The Color of Immigration

What do think of when you talk about the color of immigration? Do you think of the color of human beings? Thus: Skin color? Melanin? Tone gradations? The colors White, Black, Yellow, Red? Skin hues: Apricot, Black, Burnt Sienna, Mahogany, Peach, Sepia, Tan, White? People of color? See The Journey From ‘Colored’ To ‘Minorities’ To ‘People Of Color’:

How about the color Green? Read on…

But while the immigration debate revolves around politics, the root of the issue is economics. In other words, does it cost more to keep illegal immigrants in this country, or does it cost more to deport them?

The very recent Fortune article (January 29, 2015) I quoted from above, Does it cost more to keep unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. — or deport them?, presents a listing of the pros and cons of immigration reform by the numbers. The article ends with the following cautionary note:

One figure that should focus politicians and lobbyists as they battle it out over immigration reform: experts say that expelling immigrants could cost an estimated $8,318 to deport each of the 11 million undocumented people now in the United States.

So what about the immigrants themselves? The humanitarian aspect? The compassion for living human beings? And especially, the young, helpless ones, the unaccompanied children fleeing dreadful conditions in their countries? A Forbes article addresses this:

The different policy preferences on immigration reform are probably less a function of different feelings about the immigrants themselves and more about different views of income redistribution and the welfare state.

The article concludes:

Most illegal immigrants are hard working people who have braved dangerous conditions to come to America and improve their families’ futures. I suspect most Americans have compassion for them and would like to find some solution besides the monumentally disruptive task of deporting them all.

Yet that compassion for the people has to be balanced with the cost of any policy changes. Unless special rules are put in place to limit their collection of government benefits, the price of compassion will be trillions of dollars over the next fifty years or so. Such special rules might be work permits with no road to citizenship and a clear, explicit ban from eligibility for non-educational government benefits. Compassion is definitely something to be encouraged, but it should not be treated as if it were free.

Bloomberg Business offered the following:

Between an approach that looks at immigrants as takers and one that maximizes all possible contributions immigrants could make to society, the latter is the one favored by economists, who tend to think that immigration will add jobs and wealth to the economy. Opponents of immigration reform will be disappointed to find that the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] will likely adopt more of a macroeconomic approach.

You get the drift. There are financial pros and cons. There are potential downsides and upsides.

Thus, the color of immigration is Green.

Now it would be sophomoric and irresponsible for me to toss all caution to the wind and say, open up the floodgates no matter what, human lives are at stake, and money is no object.

But we’ve seen that the green stuff places very real curtailments on what services, assistance, and benefits undocumented immigrants receive. Many fend for themselves and actually do very well. The greater concern for me invoves the more helpless immigrants, and certainly the unaccompanied children. The human beings already in this country.

Money of course is a driving – and limiting – force. But the articles have not delved into the compassion of citizens who reach out and make donations: not just money, but services and goods. These are the ones for whom the value of life takes priority over cost. They look not to answer the following question:

What will it cost to keep them in the U.S. v. deport them?

But to answer this question:

What will it take to help them?

We are a great country – I hear this often enough. I am amazed over and over again by how people pull through and render humanitarian support in the face of tragedy and adversity.

Fiscal management and responsibility certainly outweighs fiscal folly. But viable solutions can be sought and pushed to help immigrants – particularly the kids – while the powers that be grapple over the immigration reform issue in the midst of a hot political climate.

Want to help?

  • Homeland Security Information on Donations:

At the direction of President Barack Obama and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate is coordinating a government-wide response to address the needs of an influx of unaccompanied children crossing into the United States creating a humanitarian situation along the southwest U.S. border.

  • Refugee Procession Center Affiliate Center. Scroll down to state of interest. New York lists twenty:

Want to foster an immigrant child?

  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS):

  • United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB):

See the services offered by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Division of Children Services/Unaccompanied Alien Children:

Here is a listing of unaccompanied children released to sponsors by state:

And by county:

Where I’m from, Long Island leads the pack in NY.

What might help the onslaught of children fleeing their countries to escape untold horrible conditions is to offer some assistance to them where they live so that they can live healthier, happier, and safer lives. I’ve sponsored Honduran children for years. My “little girl” just turned 8 a few months ago. Perhaps one day we’ll meet.

There are far more agencies than what I listed that offer help to these children. And there are many things and ways that we – on a personal level – can do to render some assistance.

Long-lasting change will likely require going to the source. There are organizations working to provide assistance at the source of the problem and I cannot do justice to all. As an example, see Cross-Cultural Solutions (for instance, volunteer opportunities in Guatemala):

If interested in why I picked Honduras and Guatemala, ask.


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