FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity

I don’t think I’m alone in believing there’s an intrinsic value to human life.

That is, any human, no matter who they are or what they’re like, has worth simply because they’re human. On some basic level, all of us are equal and precious.

That’s why many of us would save a human from a burning building before we’d try to save a dog. And why we’d go to extreme lengths to save the human if it’s at all possible.

No doubt you have people you love, people you like, and people you dislike. There are people you wouldn’t want to have as a neighbor, co-worker, or friend. But even when you dislike someone personally, and wish to avoid them, you wouldn’t deny their fundamental humanity.

Or at least, I like to think most of us wouldn’t. Apparently, though, some of us would.

I’ve been deeply uneasy with some trends that seem to rank some people as more valuable and others as less. One of them is the idea that immigration should be based on “merit.”

What does merit mean? Merit as a human being?

What’s actually meant by proposals to allow immigration based solely on “merit” is that only the wealthiest and most educated people can come to the U.S.

Calling that “merit” implies that one’s worth as a human is dictated by their wealth and education. I don’t believe that’s true. I believe the poorest and most destitute refugee has equal worth to the wealthiest billionaire.

Beyond their intrinsic worth, immigrants who lack money and education make tremendous contributions. Not least, they put food on America’s tables.

Immigration crackdowns in AlabamaGeorgia, and California led to crops rotting in the field when undocumented immigrants were unavailable to pick them, and nobody documented was willing to do the job under the pay and working conditions being offered.

An even more troubling devaluation of human life was Trump’s assertion that Central American gang members are “violent animals.”

Obviously, few of us would defend or invite members of a violent gang into the United States. The problem here is that Trump has routinely tried to associate all immigrants — and particularly those from Latin America — with criminality.

He’s done this from when he first entered office, when he created a phone line for people to use to report crimes by immigrants.

First of all, we don’t need a phone line for that. We already have a phone line. It’s called 911. Or, in a non-emergency, you report crimes to your local police.

Second, immigrants actually commit crimes at a lower rate than native born citizens.

Third, and most troublingly, calling human beings animals is one of the steps toward genocide. (Specifically, according to Greg Stanton of Genocide Watch, it’s step three: dehumanization.)

Nobody, even the Nazis, began with concentration camps. They began by creating an idea of us vs. them, dehumanizing Jews by calling them “rats,” and then gradually more extreme steps like forbidding intermarriage or forcing Jews into a ghetto.

Let’s not go there. Immigrants have an intrinsic worth as human beings. We can debate how many people to let into the country, how best to do it, or what sensible precautions to take.

But whatever we do, our immigration policy — and our politics — should recognize every person’s common humanity.

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
February 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Timothy M. Gill
Why is the Venezuelan Government Rejecting U.S. Food Supplies?
John Pilger
The War on Venezuela is Built on Lies
Andrew Levine
Ilhan Omar Owes No Apologies, Apologies Are Owed Her
Jeffrey St. Clair
That Magic Feeling: the Strange Mystique of Bernie Sanders
David Rosen
Will Venezuela Crisis Split Democrats?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
Curtain Call: A Response to Edward Curtin
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump’s National Emergency Is The Exact Same As Barack Obama’s National Emergency
Paul Street
Buried Alive: The Story of Chicago Police State Racism
Rob Seimetz
Imagined Communities and Omitting Carbon Emissions: Shifting the Discussion On Climate Change
Ramzy Baroud
Russian Mediation: The Critical Messages of the Hamas-Fatah Talks in Moscow
Michael Welton
Dreaming Their Sweet Dreams: a Peace to End Peace
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming’s Monster Awakens
Huma Yasin
Chris Christie Spins a Story, Once Again
Ron Jacobs
Twenty-First Century Indian Wars
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Venezuela: a Long History of Hostility
Lance Olsen
Climate and Money: a Tale of Two Accounts
Louis Proyect
El Chapo and the Path Taken
Fred Gardner
The Rise of Kamala Harris
John W. Whitehead
Rule by Fiat: National Crises, Fake Emergencies and Other Dangerous Presidential Powers
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Biomass is Not “Green”: an Interview With Josh Schlossberg
John Feffer
Answering Attacks on the Green New Deal
W. T. Whitney
US Racism and Imperialism Fuel Turbulence in Haiti
Kim Ives
How Trump’s Attacks on Venezuela Sparked a Revolution in Haiti
Mike Ferner
What War Films Never Show You
Lawrence Wittner
Should the U.S. Government Abide by the International Law It Has Created and Claims to Uphold?
James Graham
A Slow Motion Striptease in France
Dave Lindorff
Could Sanders 2.0 Win It All, Getting the Democratic Nomination and Defeating Trump?
Jill Richardson
Take It From Me, Addiction Doesn’t Start at the Border
Yves Engler
Canada and the Venezuela Coup Attempt
Tracey L. Rogers
We Need a New Standard for When Politicians Should Step Down
Gary Leupp
The Sounds of Silence
Dan Bacher
Appeals Court Rejects Big Oil’s Lawsuit Against L.A. Youth Groups, City of Los Angeles
Robert Koehler
Are You White, Black or Human?
Ralph Nader
What are Torts? They’re Everywhere!
Sarah Schulz
Immigrants Aren’t the Emergency, Naked Capitalism Is
James Campbell
In the Arctic Refuge, a Life Force Hangs in the Balance
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Corregidor’s Iconography of Empire
Jonah Raskin
The Muckraking Novelist Dashiell Hammett: A Red Literary Harvest
Kim C. Domenico
Revolutionary Art and the Redemption of the Local
Paul Buhle
Life and Crime in Blue Collar Rhode Island
Eugene Schulman
J’Accuse!
Nicky Reid
Zionists are the Most Precious Snowflakes
Jim Goodman
The Green New Deal Outlines the Change Society Needs
David Yearsley
The Political Lyre
Cesar Chelala
The Blue Angel and JFK: One Night in Camelot
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail