By Hania Raza '24
America is a nation built by immigrants, but the policies regarding immigration do not often get the attention from lawmakers and administration that they deserve.
Throughout recent history, people from all around the world have come to America, the “land of opportunity,” looking to make a life for themselves. They often start off doing the jobs that nobody wants to do, and even that is better than the dangers they sometimes face in their own countries. The American government therefore should create a just and quick process of obtaining legal citizenship, provided that the security concerns should not be overlooked.
The current imigration policy has many issues. It has caused many people to be forced to go back to their previous countries, where it may be extremely dangerous for them to live.
Currently the United States immigraion system is severely backlogged, making it very difficult to become an American. Undocumented immigrants are considered criminals. Any immigrant unable to show correct documents is liable to be detained and deported.
The last administration, of President Trump, took a number of steps to make it even more difficult for anyone to enter and live in the United States legally, using the pandemic as an excuse.
According to an Associated Press article from October 2020, White House officials influenced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services to stop the flow of immigation in order to protect Americans from the pandemic. The CDC was given this authority in Title 42 of the Public Service Act.
The Biden Administration has made some progress regarding immigration. The travel ban on many Muslim-majority countries has been lifted. However, against the hopes of many immigrant families at the southern border, Title 42 is still in effect and has expelled over one million people without processing in 2021.
However, according to a Vox article from August of 2021, “Experts have repeatedly said that migrants can be processed and admitted to the US safely.” The article further says that “In March, the acting head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) told Congress that less than 6 percent of migrants at the border had tested positive for Covid-19, a lower percentage than the Texas positivity rate at that time.”
This problem has personally touched many people, including my family. My cousin has spent many years of his youth trying to obtain citizenship legally. He came to the United States to have more opportunities and be able to live a better life than in Pakistan, but he was forced to put his life on hold in order to keep a legal status. After becoming an accountant, he wants to start his own firm, creating jobs for many. I have witnessed much of my family struggle to stay in America and have lived my whole life aware of this issue.
This global problem should be discussed more often so that more voices can be heard by those in power. The American government needs to begin giving more attention to the United States immigration policy to make it a just process for all immigrants.