AFRICANGLOBE – For the first time in many years, major immigration reform appears like a real possibility. Labeled as the mother of all policies, it is now considered the most crucial policy of the Obama administration.
However, while it is illuminating to quench the fire of illegal immigration and all the callous, cruel, stubborn, rhetoric that are dissipated in the alphabet of Republican woe; it’s also important to recognize the other groups involved in this debate. The majority of undocumented immigrants are not all Latinos. Illegal Caribbean and African immigrants and their descendants also share in the history and culture of the United States as well.
The children of farm workers and illegal nannies that clean hotels by day and sell Avon at night have now grown to maturity and they seek their place in this vast narrative, for rightly so they make up the numbers in the thriving populace of Americans. Like every illegal immigrant in America, they too have ingrained seeds with optimistic hearts hoping for that glorious moment when their story can be swathed into that fine and exclusive linen that augments the national character of America.
It follows, that if a swift, shiny path to citizenship for the roughly 3 percent of the illegal Caribbean and African population is to be accomplished, then legalization will undoubtedly have positive impacts on the children of unauthorized immigrants who were born in the United States. Studies indicate that “increased family incomes and greater stability would promote assimilation and socioeconomic advancement.” Their everyday lives would vastly improve by moving from the shadows of society into the mainstream.
Moreover, if natural experiment is correct, then it will at once be seen that illegal Caribbean and African immigrants expand the size of the economic pie by creating new businesses, new jobs, and new consumers in the United States.
It is recognized that an illegal immigrant cannot be considered an employee under ‘The Immigration Reform and Control Act’ (IRCA), but if we look at this dispatch from another lens, we will also see that illegal immigrants play a vital role in keeping a number of industries competitive, such as domestic workers and agriculture.
Critics argue that illegal immigrants tend to send their US dollars outside of America to their families and that this lowers the cost of production and prices go down. Nonetheless, it also strengthens the value of the dollar, making it more valuable, thereby making the economy of the United States stronger.
Illegal Caribbean and African immigrants are usually skilled labor and they help increase the local production of the United States. Almost every illegal Caribbean immigrant in the US has a file at USCIS, – the successor agency to the immigration and naturalization service under the new department of homeland security, because they were legally processed upon entry with a student or tourist visa with an expiration date.
Those who are undocumented often fall out of status by overstaying these visas. Many have not been convicted of any felony, significant misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to public safety or the national security of America. Therefore, the illegal Caribbean and African immigrant cannot remain alienated. All of the voices need to be heard in this debate. The question of illegal Caribbean and African immigration should not be an afterthought, but the center of conversation on national politics and policy as well.
Likewise, if the themes of pluralism are constantly being ridiculed in a country that boasts itself as the greatest democracy on earth, then arraigning illegal immigrants for immigration offenses, while at the same time reinvigorating investigation and prosecutorial efforts for a corporate America kills the American dream by halting progress.
In a country built on principles of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and other basic human rights, the value and dignity of all people regardless of their racial origins, language or religious affiliations should continue to be a major source of population growth and cultural change instead of a political, economic or security issue.
Hence, the time to move beyond the ongoing dispute of definitions and hypothetical and policy-oriented literature to one that involves a bi-partisan will, and an outline for evaluating illegal immigration not only Caribbean and African immigrant but all immigrant is at hand.
By: Rebecca Theodore
Rebecca Theodore is a popular Op-Ed columnist based in Atlanta GA. Follow her on twitter @rebethd.