The issue of immigration and border security presents many challenges, but I believe our current policy is ineffective. Certainly, we must secure our borders to prevent drug smuggling, human trafficking, and the infiltration of violent criminals and potential terrorists. In addition, illegal and undocumented immigrants burden social and community resources, such as medical clinics and schools, as they do not typically pay income taxes on their wages.
Finding solutions to this problem, however, is hindered by the provocative rhetoric used by Republicans to frame the issue. It is critical to have accurate information in order to develop effective solutions. Contrary to what President Trump would have people believe, the vast majority of illegal immigrants are not violent criminals. They are attempting to live outside of government awareness as they fear deportation, resulting in the violent crime rate for illegal immigrants actually being lower than it is for American citizens. In addition, the vast majority of illegal immigrants come through designated points of entry, not simply by walking across the border. As such, building a massive concrete wall across the border will do very little to prevent illegal immigration. Building the wall has cost billions of dollars, will cost additional billions to maintain, and it will not solve the problem of illegal immigration.
The motivation for illegal immigrants coming to the United States is the same that drove the ancestors of most Americans: to seek a better life for themselves and their children. Once we accept that reality, a number of more effective policy options present themselves. First, we must secure the border through the use of technological advances and the hiring of more border patrol officers. Second, we must reform our immigration system by hiring more judges to hear asylum claims and speed up the process so cases are not in limbo for years. Third, our State Department must work with the governments of the countries people are fleeing to address the crime and poverty that is often the cause of their attempts to reach United States. Fourth, we must streamline the process for those wishing to immigrate to the United States to provide acceptable alternatives beyond attempting illegal entry. Finally, we must not forget our humanity, and reclaim the moral high ground for which America was long admired around the world. Actions such as separating children from their families or forcing medical procedures upon detained individuals against their consent must never be accepted policy positions.