Immigration debate needs humanization

Every time I hear someone call a person “illegal,” a chill goes down my spine.

No one is illegal. A human cannot be illegal.

Calling someone illegal is like treating the individual as a product, comparable to a banned substance and dehumanizing the person.

Hye You | Daily Trojan

Since when did human beings become commodities that had the potential to be banned?

Even though I find the concept of labeling people illegal baffling at its core, many Californians are beginning to direct their anger at so-called illegal immigrants as the source of the state’s misfortune as universities, schools, hospitals and other institutions face severe budget cuts by Sacramento.

Those individuals might have an example to follow with a new piece of legislation approved by Arizona’s legislature, which calls for much stricter measures in trying to deport all illegal immigrants. The bill was written by the Republican State Sen. Russell Pearce and includes measures that would allow law enforcement officials to stop any presumed immigrant in the state and demand their respective federal and state forms of identification on the spot, even if the individual is a legal immigrant.

If the person turns out to be illegal, he would be transferred to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and deported. And if a legal immigrant is caught without appropriate forms, he could face up to six months in jail and a $500 fine. Even more shocking is that citizens could be held just for not having proper identification papers on them during the time of questioning.

The bill stipulates that if a police station is enforcing the new rules “to less than the full extent permitted,” it could face thousands of dollars in fines. Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the bill is that police officers can stop any individual for “reasonable suspicion” based on any two of the following: race, nationality and color. Supporters of the bill allege the legislation will pick out illegal immigrants and have them deported, which will free up government funds to benefit legal citizens.

However, many lawmakers and activists have criticized the bill, calling it reminiscent of apartheid-era South Africa and simply deplorable. State Rep. Raul Grijalva said the bill targets and discriminates against a specific demographic of the population. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who is also the Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Task Force on Immigration Reform, made a personal remark in an interview with CNN regarding the effect of the bill on average Hispanic-Americans: “I’m Puerto Rican. I was born in Chicago, and my family has been U.S. citizens for generations. But look at my face, listen to my voice. I’d probably get picked up in Arizona and questioned. Is that what we want in America?”

The immigration debate soon made its way closer to home when Roger Mahony, the cardinal of Los Angeles, compared the law to “German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques” on his website.

However, in the same city Mahony made that statement, supporters of tougher laws on illegal immigration pointed to crumbling schools and universities that have been greatly affected by the state’s budget cuts. In 2009, state officials estimated that illegal immigrants accounted for “$4 billion and $6 billion in costs, primarily for prisons and jails, schools and emergency rooms,” according to the Los Angeles Times. This fact infuriates some individuals who feel every dollar should only be spent on legal citizens.

After hearing the monetary-based argument of individuals against using government money for illegal immigrants, I am often stunned at how money seems to drive people’s decisions and not the need to help fellow human beings.

We have to understand the plight of illegal immigrants entering our state. Most leave their families in their hometown — a decision painful enough — to risk their lives and travel across the border to provide money to their families. After paying people most of their savings to sneak them across the border, many immigrants risk sheer humiliation, injury or death if caught and deported.

Those who make it here are given little if no respect in society and are forced to work for wages well below minimum wage — wages that are mostly sent to their families in their home countries that are counting on the money for food and other basic necessities.

After understanding the dismal situations most illegal immigrants face in coming to the United States, is it right to call them “criminals” and “illegals?” Are they really doing the wrong thing in trying to provide basic necessities for their families and provide better lives for their children?

Every human in California deserves at least the most basic of services such as emergency medical care and public education.

We are not wasting money by helping fellow human beings — we are doing the right thing. I am not advocating an open border situation in which everyone can easily and openly enter this state and nation ­— rather, amnesty should be granted to the present illegal immigrants and we should leave the border and immigration laws the way they are. If anything, the government needs to provide a fast-track for most illegal immigrants to achieve citizenship.

We need to look at the issue of illegal immigration not with a financial viewpoint but through the viewpoint of helping fellow humans.

Let’s hope everyone realizes that people aren’t costs — they’re people.

Angad Singh is a sophomore majoring in communication and international relations.

21 replies
  1. Rick
    Rick says:

    Did I also forget to mention that my Korean wife and Step Daughter also speak FLUENT ENGLISH and almost only speak Korean at home. I don’t believe that anyone should lose their native language but when you are out on the street and doing Business in this country believe it or not our national language is english

  2. Rick
    Rick says:

    What part of ILLEGAL do people not understand? These people, and I am not just talking about Mexicans, but they are the main culprits here, are all breaking federal laws that have been on the books for years. There is no need to enact new laws against illegal immigration if our moronic federal government would enforce the laws already established. I’m all for LEGAL immigration. Hell my wife is a Legal immigrant from South Korea. She waited her 4-5 years while the paperwork was processed and her uncle, who earned his citizenship fighting with us in Vietnam and her father who fought with us in Korea, sponsored her and her daughter to come to this country for a shot at a better life. That was in 2005, we met in 2006 at a Korean restaurant and married 2 years later. She went about coming to this country the correct way. She didn’t sneak across the border and drop a kid in the nearest San Diego Hospital and sponge off of everybody. We as American Citizens need to pull our nut sacks down and take a stand against what is happening in this country and that means sending “ALL” illegal’s back no matter what country they are from. I don’t want to live by the adage “I work hard because millions of ILLEGALS need OBAMA care” That is another subject left for another day. I have worked hard for this university for the past 5 years as a plumber and would hate to see that my step daughter and my new baby daughter wont get the chance to go to this university for free as part of my incentive to work here because some ILLEGAL needs their spaces in line for a quality education. I guarantee that is not too far off if we keep going the way we are now. It is time to strip away citizenship for anchor babies. Just because you sneak across this border and plop down a kid should not make that kid an instant Citizen with all my free tax money. AMERICA, wake up and smell the crap storm coming.

  3. parent
    parent says:

    Hey if we get stopped driving without a License we go to jail. If there is a warrent out for my arrest for doing something illegal I go to jail. If they are legal and doing things above board they will have nothing to hide or worry about! If not C-Ya!

  4. AN
    AN says:

    George, I do not know of a time when I do not have any ID, be it my DL or some other form of ID. This law does not allow people to be stopped merely because they are walking down the street as some claim or taking a walk in the park. There has to be reasonable cause. I am also sure if I do not have any ID the police will give me reasonable opportunity of obtaining it. (although I always have my wallet with me) The only people who do not have any ID are the illegals.

  5. George
    George says:

    AN, suppose you don’t have you are stopped by an officer and DON’T have your identification or papers on you. You do realize that you could be jailed and fined for this, don’t you? Like I said, I believe we need to tighten our borders and crack down on employers who hire illegal aliens, but this dangerous bill is not the right way to do that.

  6. parent
    parent says:

    Bottom Line the Illegal Aliens want all the benefits and do not particpate any any way positive to help uot our country. I have zero compasion for any of them. They are the first one’s on line when they can get something for nothing and the last one on line when it is good for our country. SEND THEM ALL BACK THEY ARE A CANCER! They get free lunches in public schools, free medical, educations, financial aid yet for some resaon they do not pay taxes, get car insurance, or contribute on any level. The illegals are all a buch of selfish takers who are drowning all of us!

  7. Ras
    Ras says:

    “We are not wasting money by helping fellow human beings — we are doing the right thing.”

    Yeah except for the part that eventually you will go broke with only this philosophy and no actual plan to intelligently implement economic growth for all nations involved. The US and Los Angeles, CA in particular will not be doing anyone any favors in the long run by slowly lowering living standards and become more like Mexico. Mexico is such a failed state that its people are killing themselves to come across the border. Now we are slowly becoming more like Mexico and we can not even talk about this as a problem. Just drive through East LA – is this what we want the US to become? What should be happening is Mexico try and turn their country like the US – not the US slowly morph into Mexico.

    Or Mexico can just admit they do not know how to run a country and we can turn it into the largest 51st State of the USA.

  8. AN
    AN says:

    Do you know what sends a chill down my spine? when I hear of a father and son being murdered in cold blood by an illegal in SFO (a sanctuary city) or when I hear of a rancher being murdered in Az. also by an illegal. Lets not play with semantics here. Illegal means against a law or statute and these people are here against the law or illegally. The Az law is in reaction to the inaction by the government to protect its citizens. While not all illegals are violent criminals (only about 17% are) they have ALL broken a federal law. I also agree that granting amnesty will only encourage more people to cross the border – after all why not if they are given all the benefits with none of the downsides. Why wait like the rest of us did? and oh by the way I have brown skin and fully support this Az law even if it means I may be stopped by a cop there and asked for my ID. I do that at airports anyway.

  9. George
    George says:

    The border laws need to be changed and security tightened! I agree 100% Illegal immigration has to be better controlled. And yes, businesses that hire illegals need to be prosecuted.

    What really makes me sad is the enthusiasm expressed by so many for this bill, which does nothing to address border security but merely promotes racial profiling, as the above poster pointed out.

  10. Now really...
    Now really... says:

    …I’m completely in favor of tightening the border and prosecuting employers who hire illegal immigrants, but this bill is only feeding the wave of animosity people have towards an entire group, and serves to do little but enable racial profiling. Let’s say I’m Hispanic but a legal US citizen. I could be arrested for simply not carrying my papers on me at all times. How many of you have families who immigrated to the US in the last few decades? Do you carry your green card at all times?

    I agree that the onslaught of illegals causes problems for the infrastructure, but I am not so livid that I want to see families broken up to placate the masses. What I support is some form of amnesty for those already here, with new rules and conditions. Yes, they are here illegally and cannot expect to be given the same access to education and healthcare as documented immigrants, but is there so much hatred in the country that people will only be happy when illegals are treated without any decency? It’s entirely possible to crack down with humane considerations and this bill is a huge step in the opposite direction.

  11. Joe
    Joe says:

    I also disagree with the term “illegal immigrants”. They are not “immigrants”, they are temporary criminal squatters who have yet to be deported. I prefer the term “alien invaders” but that’s just me.

  12. student2
    student2 says:

    my mother works in Santa Ana and teaches the children of many illegals. The children are legally US residents because their parents jumped the border, and had their child here for free, making their child a citizen, this is what we call anchor babies.

    There is a reason that they spend so much money to get here, because they know its a free ride for health care, education and its all tax free. Meanwhile we, the tax paying citizens foot the bill, a bill we can no longer afford. Our schools cant get the resources to provide a well rounded education because all the money is going to people who milk the system. I have no problem with immigration, but go about it the right way! and yes if your here ILLEGALLY, then your ILLEGAL. If your so adamant about humanizing the process you foot their bill. You get into a car accident with one who has no insurance and be stuck paying the damages yourself when the accident was their fault.

    Its not our job to spoon-feed the weak and poor of the world when we have plenty of problems with our own legal citizens, illegals have no right to be here, LITERALLY NO RIGHT. they can earn that right if they wait in line.

    You clearly at either an international student or not from a state that deals with the heavy onset of illegals. maybe you should wake up and educate yourself. cuz your standing alone

  13. parent
    parent says:

    Please explain to my daughter (USC student) whose Grandfather came here legally,served his country in the U.S Army, took a course and became a citizen and paid taxes his entire life why and how he should welcome these freeloaders by giving them everything they want that he had to work so hard for and earn?

  14. student
    student says:

    Send them alll back each and everyone one of those self entitled morons.

    They are arrorgant in what they feel is due to them and they do nothing but drag us down. Crime, Jails, Hospitals, Schools, aid, not paying taxes, not having car insurance, I could.go on and on you get the picture just open your eyes!…They are bankrupting this country and fast. I wonder what Mexico would do for you if you were there illegally.Throw your ass right in jail!

  15. parent
    parent says:

    God forbid one of these indivduals you call human beings and not “illegal” totals your car in an accident!

    I wonder what the first word out of your mouth would be when your insurance company informs you that you are out of luck becaue the individual that demolished your car and caused 200k in medical bills by someone who was here underthe radar!

    You are so full of it!

    • Thomas
      Thomas says:

      Your argument is basically that because these people already have limitations on their rights, that indirectly threaten you, their rights should be limited even further simply in order to protect your rights. I think it is an extremely selfish argument. Also you are focusing on a extreme situation resulting from a single minor matter at risk, which you blow up as much as is possible in order to justify your argument that this minopr matter should be definite in deciding the fate of an entire group of human beings. Its very poor logic.

      • Joe
        Joe says:

        Oh yeah! Rule #1 in the liberal handbook: If you can’t win the argument, accuse your opponent of racism and run away!

  16. Chris
    Chris says:

    No one is illegal… well, except for the part where they entered the country… um… illegally. Rocket science this ain’t.

    From what I gather (and I grant that I may be wrong, since I haven’t done a whole lot of digging), asking for documents can only be done following “lawful contact,” e.g. a traffic stop or suchlike. “That guy looks Mexican!” doesn’t count.

    “I am not advocating an open border situation in which everyone can easily and openly enter this state and nation ­— rather, amnesty should be granted to the present illegal immigrants and we should leave the border and immigration laws the way they are. If anything, the government needs to provide a fast-track for most illegal immigrants to achieve citizenship.”

    We did that back in… 1986, I believe. Shockingly, granting amnesty to the current crop of illegal immigrants tells future would-be illegal immigrants that all they need to do is hang out long enough, and BAM! Citizenship! Sure does suck to be those schmucks who waited their turn in line to enter the country legally… What do you expect to see happen? And how is this proposal of yours *not* an effective open border? The border is quite porous. So if you can manage to cross it, well, welcome fellow citizen!

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