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Immigration issue needs more consideration

Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, October 30, 2007

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” This is the beginning of the inscription on the Statue of Liberty, one of the United States’ proudest monuments. It’s amazing how much our attitude has changed towards immigrants since this symbol of hope was erected in 1884. Today, presidential candidates’ strength on the issue is judged by how tough their policies are on “illegal aliens,” rather than on how humanitarian or, at the very least, pragmatic they are.

Last year I went to El Paso on a trip with twelve other Notre Dame students to get a first-hand look at the immigration issue, and I came back to South Bend with many insights. First, because of how bureaucratic and expensive the legalization process is, it is much easier (and makes much more sense) for immigrants to enter our country illegally. Second, a Border Patrol officer who we met with admitted that of the hundreds of thousands of potential immigrants apprehended by the El Paso border patrol over the past ten years, zero were suspected terrorists. Third, when fences went up in Tijuana in the 1990s to prevent immigration flows into California, Latin Americans began entering through the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. This treacherous journey has led to hundreds of deaths annually in the deserts of the Southwest. While these facts are overlooked by the popular media in our country, we are constantly bombarded with possibly false claims of how immigrants are putting a strain on our public resources.

What I remember most about my time in El Paso was our group’s meeting with two Mexican teenagers who had crossed from Mexico the day before. When asked why he risked so much to come to the United States, one replied that he needed to support his girlfriend who he had just gotten pregnant, and had no opportunity for work in Mexico. The proposed $7 billion dollar fence along the U.S.-Mexico border would attempt to keep thousands of desperate people like him out. However, history has shown that the fence would probably cause them to find another, more dangerous way into our country. Why are we willing to go to such lengths to deny help to those in the world who need it most?

Charlie Cummingsjunior off campusOct. 29