“There’s a crisis at the border,” politicians love to say. “Thousands of illegal immigrants pouring in to take your job, money and drag down the economy.” But here’s the thing; they’ve been here for years, millions of them, and we’ve been perfectly fine. Instead, the true crisis at the border has to do with the people keeping immigrants out and the effect that is having on humans seeking a better life.
Perhaps you’ve seen the photo above already; it’s been circling widely for a few days now. A man and his daughter, trying to cross the border into America, drowned in a shallow pool of water. Whatever political affiliation you have, there should be one universal truth we all agree on; people shouldn’t have to die trying to find a better life. Children shouldn’t be drowning trying to enter one of the richest countries in the world.
But why not try to immigrate legally, you ask? Come across the border, apply for a green card and try to improve their lives that way? The answer is simple: these people often come with very little or nothing to their names, and legal immigration is expensive. Extremely so. It’s not as simple as filing for a green card, either.
If you are an immigrant and choose not to hire a lawyer, the average price you can expect to pay to try and become a US citizen is 2,000 dollars. Considering that some studies show that immigration law is more complex than tax law, and you can understand why this is not an option for many people. Tack on another couple thousand dollars for a lawyer, and it becomes clear why many feel their only choice is to try and cross the border illegally.
None of this even mentions the wait for a green card, which can often take years to finish, even assuming that nothing goes wrong in the process. During that time, applicants aren’t allowed to work or have a job. If they go back home to find work, they have to start the process of citizenship over when they return again.
All of that is to say that there is a huge incentive for immigrants to avoid the US legal system at all costs. Thousands of dollars and years of their lives are at stake. Can you really blame them?
So while the government argues that immigrant children don’t need soap or toothbrushes while being detained and separated from their families, remember that the easiest solution to this problem is making the immigration process cheaper and easier. No more locking children in prisons, no more separating them without any plan to reunite families.
One of the richest countries in the world shouldn’t be charging thousands for the right to live within its borders. Especially not from the poorest and most vulnerable people. And it sure as hell shouldn’t be creating a situation where a father and daughter could drown trying to find a better way. Make immigration easier. Make it cheaper. Pump money into the organizations who handle the process and streamline the entire system. No human being should be dying on our borders while we can save them. This is exactly what America was created for, and its time we started acting like that.
Caleb Edwards is a senior studying professional writing with a focus in editing and publishing. When he isn’t working or writing you can find him tending his fish, taking care of his cats and dogs or trying to find free time that he can waste (there never is any). You can follow him on Twitter @CEdwardsSam or find him at his website CalebMEdwards.com.