Every year there are 500 million border crossings into the United States, according to Philip Bobbitt in his March 9, 2016, Stratfor article, “Borders in a Borderless World.” Those crossings have resulted in 11 million illegal/undocumented immigrants living the United States.
The differences between the two terms “illegal” versus “undocumented” are separated by politics. Conservatives view these immigrants as illegal who, if it were possible, should be rounded up and sent back where they came from, as Donald Trump has advocated. For liberals, they are undocumented because they have not yet been enrolled in the process of becoming legally documented. The word choice is a political decision, which shows bias no matter which word is used.
Ironically, according to Bobbitt, many of these “illegals/undocumented” are here in this nation in great part due to decisions on the part of President Reagan. In 1986, Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act with the encouragement of Reagan, to protect us from “terrorists and subversives.”
Apparently, most terrorists and subversives come through our southern borders, rather than through Canada, because there has been no talk of putting up high fences on our northern border. Is the issue on our southern border based more on race and poverty than a fear of terrorism?
Also, ironically, the 9/11 terrorists all entered this country legally. The terrorist wife of the San Bernardino shooter also entered this country legally as the spouse of a U.S. citizen.
“Until the mid-1980s, migration from Mexico to the United States was churned by the movement of Mexican males entering to find employment and then returning to spend their savings,” Bobbitt wrote. In the period from 1965-86, the number returning offset the number coming in from Mexico. The actual U.S. growth rate from these trips was around 1 percent during two decades.
Due to Reagan’s Immigration Reform and Control Act, these illegal male immigrants found crossing and re-crossing more difficult. Their solution was to bring their wives, children and other family members into the States so crossing would not be an issue. This reaction brought on the increase of immigrants from 3 million by 1986 to the current 11-12 million we see today. Many of these immigrants had children born in this country. About 80 percent of the children of undocumented immigrants now have citizenship, according to Bobbitt.
The political consequences have seen the percentage of the U.S. Latino population rising to 17.37 percent. Latinos have become a major voting block, predominantly voting Democratic, making it very difficult for Republicans to win presidential elections.
Paradoxically, Donald Trump has risen in popularity and gained support in his bid for election in great part because he has inflamed white and blue-collar males to support him by advocating that the Mexican government pay to build a wall to keep them out.
Based upon what has happened since the passage of the 1986 law, this is exactly the opposite of what should be done to keep out illegal/undocumented immigrants. It seems the more Republican candidates advocate removal of illegal immigrants to solve the immigration problem, the worse the problem becomes. The more Latino citizens hear talk of removal, the more likely they will vote Democratic in the fall.
Clearly, it’s time for Republicans to quit repeating the same mistakes over and over again, hoping for a different result. They are inflaming racial and ethnic divisions and all of us will suffer the consequences.