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The term Immigrant designates an individual who has permanently relocated to a foreign country to settle, and inhabit as a way of new life. Those who enter the United States are usually seeking resources, employment, healthcare, education, and/or are in need of refuge. In the United States alone, there are more than 40 million immigrants that represent the highest population from any other nation in the world. A study prepared at the new Pew Research Center specified that 76% of immigrants are living in the U.
S legally, while 24% are unauthorized and illegal (Lopez, et.al., 2018). America has always been a country that’s accepted people of all ethnicities and cultures however, in the colonial era even “attempts to banish outsiders” were always effective. Thus, suggesting that the country was always in favor of excluding any inhabitants that may have encumbered any public resources and public costs during that time period. “Although the United States prides itself on being a “nation of immigrants,” concerns about “undesirable” newcomers- convicts, the poor, the infirm, and those from groups considered to be “racially inferior”- have been features of American immigration policy from its inception (Armenta, 2017).
” Having a strict border could mean the prevention of terrorists, illegal trafficking, violence, or drugs. On the contrary, it could mean invasion of civil liberties, human values, American purpose, and discernment of potential citizens.
Government officials should, if not already, be bombarded with questions like: Why are there innocent people being questioned about their legal status in America and is it a plausible source to make arrests based on cultural/racial profiling? Also, why should other federal agencies get involved in these issues that pertain mostly to immigration officers, when they have their own duties to protect? Is it fair for undocumented people to fear being deported under any circumstance whether they are in trouble or not? Is this type of motion in government, constitutional?
Since the passing of Senate Bill 4, the Texas Legislature is allowing the assistance of federal agencies such as police departments, military, etc.
to enforce immigration law that initially supports immigration officers. “It punishes local officials who choose to prioritize their communities’ safety over the anti-immigrant agenda of politicians, diverts precious local resources away from communities to serve the needs of the federal government, corrodes public trust in law enforcement, and drives victims and witnesses of crime into the shadows, making everyone less safe (ACLU, 2018).”
Regardless of lawful status in Texas, immigrants continue to deliver and enrich the economy by diversifying the communities that make up the state. Continuous acts of racial profiling, harassment, and detainment of these inhabitants are still being enforced by law as it continues to violate their rights and exploitation. Therefore, initiating change in this policy should start with the Texas government because the federal government has already recognized that parts of Senate Bill 4 is in violation of the Constitution.
Governor Gregg Abbott is in full support of this bill; SB 4 is allowing police officers to distinctly target the Latino population in Texas. For instance, city cops can now have someone pulled over for a minor traffic violation and simply ask about their immigration status. What if the person was of Latino/Hispanic descent and they felt a sense of helplessness? Besides, the bill is currently trying to block safe cities for those individuals without documentation, meanwhile being anti-immigrant and discriminatory against these individuals. This law is differentiating people of color without regard to what their actual status is. Even if the individual is a non-citizen, it does not give anyone the right to question their legal status if they are truly in need of protection. The policy is basically initiating mass deportation and making communities in Texas feel unsafe because people believe they can’t go to authorities for assistance.
In May of 2017, an undocumented man from Key West, Fl. was left wounded without prior medical assistance because he was originally asked about his immigration status, as opposed to whether he needed aid. The man was struck by an SUV while innocently riding his bicycle and instead of the police rendering first aid, they interrogated him. The officer asked, “Do you speak English? Are you a legal Citizen or no?” Finally, the policeman asked if he needed an ambulance and was then sent to the nearest hospital. After the man was treated, the police asked him to report back to the scene of the accident where Border Patrol agents were waiting to detain him for his illegal status (Alvarez, 2017).
Although this incident happened in a Florida city, it certainly proves that this issue is everywhere in the United States, not just in Texas. “Six states account for 60 percent of all undocumented immigrants: California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois” (Gonzales & Rafael, 2017). Local counties and cities in Texas should definitely take into consideration the options that would keep these people safe. One possibility would be to advocate for these immigrant communities and earn their trust, so they can feel welcome and secure in their own neighborhoods. If the public worked together to bring forth awareness and promote the rights of these immigrants, eventually the elected officials of each district would feel the pressure to act and represent each community. A disadvantage to this option would be that police would continue to target minority communities and damage any liaison between them with little effort to work together. Perhaps immigrants will lose hope in the justice system and be less likely to testify against offenses, oblige with officer requests, or stand as an eyewitness due to the apprehension of being deported.
In the case of the Florida cop, he was obviously not fluent in Spanish because he did not understand what the hurt man was saying; The Police Academy should’ve addressed this type of action immediately. There should be special procedures in officer trainings for working with Non-English speakers. Another disadvantage to this option would be that officials would automatically assume that the person was foreign and was never taught English as a second language. This type of bias is essentially unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment. “Equal protection forces a state to govern impartially—not draw distinctions between individuals solely on differences that are irrelevant to a legitimate governmental objective. Thus, the equal protection clause is crucial to the protection of civil rights” (Cornell Law School, 1992).
Also, the policeman kept asking for the undocumented man’s passport and ID without considering other forms of identification. Additional forms of identification should be acceptable incase a person does not have attainable access to their possessions. A school ID, insurance card, library card, bank card, etc. should be valid and adequate to obtain some kind of significance in Texas. While these are traditional police procedures in any arrest or interrogation, it is important to encourage these types of local reforms to end bigotry that immigrants continue to face. State officials have the control to authorize whether or not they want to move forward with a citation or arrest. If police would just give people the opportunity to prove themselves through other methods, non-citizens would feel secure and protected. Without proper identification however, government officials would literally have no type of knowledge of the inhabitant. Thus, law enforcement agents will then feed off of what politicians assume illegal immigrants are- “rapists, criminals, drug dealers, etc.”
Again, the disadvantage to this would mean automatic detainment in a facility due to lack of residency. Many of these un-lawful residents have built their lives in Texas, and deportation is tearing their families apart.
Furthermore, the suggested course of action with Senate Bill 4 and the immigration injustices would be to allow the police to perform their civil duty without continuously inquiring on a person’s legal status. In fact, the state of Texas has already cracked down on Senate Bill 4 and its unconstitutionality; several Texas cities have already sued the state in order to stop the law. Since the Texas legislative only meets once every two years, the reversal of this law cannot yet be enforced. The best way to handle this current issue in local government is to “know your rights” and convey any illegal actions to federal court.
The purpose of allowing individuals their freedoms and civil liberties is to acknowledge that they too are human, and although they cannot vote, they still have a political voice. “We do not assess other general political behaviors or perceptions and feelings about American politics; we do not try to examine phenomena like voting because so many Latino immigrants, because they are not citizens, are ineligible to vote. Without immigration reform, a greater proportion of today’s unauthorized population will remain excluded longer, and under harsher circumstances, than their predecessors who came in the 1960s and 1970s” (Brown & Bean, 2016). With this being said, Texas courts should allow due process and the impartiality for immigrants so that they may feel protected lawfully without fear of expulsion.
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