Immigration: the hot-button conservative topic of the 2016 election. It has been the centerpiece issue of the Trump campaign, earning the belligerent candidate a strong following as well as a certain notoriety. Everyone wants to talk about being tough on illegal immigration. And yet, no one will even pay lip service to addressing its root causes. No one really wants to fix America’s flawed immigration system.
U.S. immigration policy has been broken for half a century. Prior to 1965, the Bracero guest worker program allowed almost five million Mexican workers to enter the U.S. for low-skilled seasonal labor. Unfortunately, the program was ended by Congress, and has not since been replaced. Meanwhile, American demand for low-skilled labor, along with Mexican demand for employment in that field, continues regardless. This has resulted in the same worker program continuing, and expanding, outside of the confines of the law. Business continues as usual. It’s the government that hasn’t gotten with the times.
Now, as we find ourselves with 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., still no one addresses the root cause of the problem. Candidates rail against illegal immigration, talk of putting up a giant wall, oppose sanctuary cities, and even end birthright citizenship in order to spite the undocumented as much as possible. All the while, you’d be hard-pressed to find any talk of reestablishing a guest worker program, allowing low-skilled labor, or relaxing immigration quotas. Instead, the incredibly complex and expensive option of mass deportation is touted as the sensible solution. Why? Because there’s no political leverage behind actually solving a problem. Campaigns are built on blame and breathlessly promising to save the public from a crisis. Immigration has become just that: a manufactured crisis.
This election cycle, and every one that comes after, don’t let politicians use fear of illegal immigrants to convince you to put them in power. Ask for a real solution. Ask for a fixed immigration system.
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