The act of separating families, whether that be at our southern border or here in Imlay City, is troubling and, I would argue, demonstrates just how impractical our immigration system really is.
Sure, law and order is necessary but it appears our elected leaders have lost sight of what's sensible when it comes to dealing with nearly anyone who wants to call this country "home."
Recently I wrote about Juan Carlos Puentes-Martinez, the Imlay City father and husband who was deported. His family and friends lobbied Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to let him stay in the U.S. while his case works through the immigration court system but that didn't happen.
It's believed that ICE agents surveilled Juan's family for six weeks before sweeping in to dramatically arrest him in an Imlay City parking lot. He was housed in a detention center for nearly a month before he was sent to Mexico. What did all of this accomplish other than generate a big bill we taxpayers must foot plus four heartbroken kids? He lived a quiet life as a stay-at-home dad and was obviously not a threat to this community.
Two weeks ago, the Associated Press reported that immigrant U.S. Army recruits were suddenly being discharged. The second President Bush created a program to allow expedited naturalization for immigrant soldiers that were medical specialists or fluent speakers of some 40 plus languages. Now their status as legal immigrants could be in jeopardy because of new arbitrary security hurdles the current administration has imposed.
These are people who had committed to risking their lives for this country who hadn't yet gained the rights of citizenship and we've told them "no thanks."
In recent days, national media outlets have reported on the issues that have cropped up as the feds attempt to reunify families. Defenders of the current administration keep trying to stress that "only 2,000" kids were taken from their parents at the border but apparently that volume has proven to overwhelm their records system.
The fact that toddlers are now being paraded into deportation hearings alone...well, that's not even a matter of being impractical—its inhumane.
Society seems to recognize that stiff fines and imprisonment for non-violent offenses doesn't accomplish much. Recreational drug use is being legalized across this country and Michigan leaders recently abolished the Driver Responsibility fees, noting that the program didn't promote public safety but only made it harder for residents to pick up their kids from school or get to work if they'd lost their drivers license.
This country hasn't ever really had a fair immigration system. We've always favored bringing in more of the same—western Europeans—but it appears the tide is turning and the average citizen understands past practice is no longer practical.
We need that military recruit for his Chinese language skills. It's only humane to welcome that Guatemalan mother and her children fleeing gang violence. That Imlay City husband and father deserves to be with his family while he pursues a path to citizenship.
Contact Maria at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she and her family reside in the Capac area where she enjoys gardening and reading.