Maria Yeager

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The Truth About Immigration – Part I

After I posted my last blog on immigration, a friend of mine, who happens to also be an immigration attorney, contacted me. He offered to send me some facts on immigration. I am so thankful to him for this information as it really clarified the situation for me. I feel that it is very important to do research and  share actual facts instead of relying on unknown sources and opinions of others which may not be based in fact.

The truth is that most immigrants are not criminals. This is a fact based on many studies. Trump wants the citizens of the U.S. to believe that crime is “pouring into the country”, but the facts are that this simply isn’t true. In fact, experts say that today’s immigration policy is mostly based on fear rather than facts.

According to the article “The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States”, written by Walter Ewing, PhD, Daniel Martinez, PhD and Ruben Rumbaut, PhD:

“Innumerable studies have confirmed two simple yet powerful truths about the relationship between immigration and crime: Immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime.”

How can we be sure about this? Well, here are some important statistics:

Between 1990 and 2013, the number of unauthorized immigrants grew from 3.5 million to 11.5 million. During that same period of time, violent crime in the U.S. declined by 48 percent, and property crime declined by 41 percent.

A study showed that in 2010, 1.6 percent of immigrant males aged 18-39 were incarcerated as compared to 3.3 percent of those who are native-born. In addition, the 1980, 1990 and 2000 censuses showed that the incarceration rate of native-born persons were 2-5 times higher than for immigrants. Among the less-educated, the incarceration rate for native-born citizens was 10.7 percent while the Mexican rate was 2.8 percent and the Salvadoran/Guatemalan rate was 1.7 percent.

These stats clearly show that overall, immigrants are not the dangerous criminals that Trump likes to push people to believe. Yes, there are always going to be some dangerous people who try to cross the border, but these people are clearly in a minority, and it is imperative to understand this fact instead of viewing all immigrants as criminals.

I will get into much more detail in future blogs about how immigrants are being criminalized, but for now, I will give you a general idea of what is happening in the system.

Since about 1996, immigration laws have become increasingly stringent. From the years 2000 to 2010, there was a significant increase in the incarceration rate of immigrants due to these stricter laws. New classes of felonies were developed which only applied to immigrants. More minor offenses such as illegal entry or traffic offenses are now considered “criminal”. Essentially, the government is not applying the same rules to immigrants as to those who are native-born. For immigrants, a minor offense can get them detained and deported whereas the same offense committed by someone who is a native of the U.S. would get a suspended sentence or a fine.

In 2014, Obama recognized the problem with the immigration policies. So many immigrants were being detained and deported because of the stricter laws that he recognized that the U.S. government did not have all the resources they needed to process all of them. It also became apparent that by using so many resources to deport immigrants who pose no threat, they were using less of their resources on keeping the drug cartels and human traffickers out of the U.S. Through executive action, Obama provided a temporary reprieve from deportation along with work authorizations to 5.3 million immigrants. This eased the strain on resources and allow immigration enforcement officials to put more time and effort toward keeping actual criminals such as drug cartels out of the country.

Enter Trump and his administration. In March, 2017, John Kelly told CNN in an interview that he was considering separating children from their families at the border if they enter the country illegally. So the administration had been considering this since early in Trump’s presidency. Then, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the implementation of the zero-tolerance policy in April, 2018. This policy criminalizes everyone who crosses the border illegally, and as a result, all children would be separated from their families. The children would automatically go to the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement while their parent/parents are criminally prosecuted. As a result, over 2,000 children were separated from their families in a period of a couple of months.

So what exactly happened here? Well, in previous administrations, families generally were allowed to stay together. They were usually released together to await their case in court. Under Trump’s zero tolerance policy, all families who crossed illegally are separated and the adults are criminally prosecuted. However, remember how, since about 1996, the immigration rules had progressively become stricter? Even under Bush, Clinton and Obama, immigrants were treated more harshly than native-born Americans. So the implementation of Trump’s zero-tolerance policy was particularly harsh.

During the time that children were separated, Trump and others in his administration insisted on many occasions that the law forced them to separate children from their parents. This is false. There is no law that says that children must be separated from their families at the border. However, there are restrictions on how long a minor can be held in custody. The 1997 Flores settlement says that a minor cannot be held in custody for more than 20 days. This complicates the matter at the border, but let’s be very clear – there is no law that says that children must be separated from their families.

Now, let’s think about this zero tolerance policy for a minute. We have already seen in the past that the immigration system is strained because we are criminalizing immigrants who pose no threat to the U.S. (asylum seekers). By putting the zero tolerance policy into place, the system is strained past its limits. We saw this with the “tent city” that was being erected to house separated children. If Trump and his administration had done any research at all, they would have known that this policy was doomed to failure. The U.S. government does not have the resources to criminalize every single immigrant that crosses the border, and it’s ridiculous to do so since the majority of them are asylum seekers that pose no threat to the U.S. In addition, there are little to no resources left to aggressively pursue the detention and deportation of known drug cartel members and human traffickers. I hope you see how ridiculous and unprepared this administration is when it comes to immigration enforcement.

This Trump disaster didn’t last long. The uproar over the separations pushed Trump into signing an executive order to stop the separations. Still, Trump constantly says that crime is “pouring into our country” with the influx of these immigrants. He makes it sound like all immigrants are criminals. I see pro-Trumpers say on social media that all immigrants need to be stopped from coming into the U.S. because they are all criminals. They also insist that “most” immigrants are violent drug cartel members and/or human traffickers. These false views are fueled by Trump’s false statements, and this needs to stop.

Part II to come soon…

 

 

 

Should We Blindly Follow Government Authority? Trump, the Evangelicals, and the Immigration Problem

During the past week or so, I have been in long and very interesting discussions with followers of Franklin Graham on Twitter. As these discussions continued I realized several things:

  1. I was dumbfounded by their lack of knowledge of scripture.
  2. I realized that they blindly follow Trump even when proof of his lies are presented to them.
  3. I realized that in order to push their narrative, they quote only one or two scripture passages and take them out of context.
  4. I felt like I was talking to modern-day Pharisees.

I will address each of the above in more detail.

  1. Lack of knowledge of scripture – Over and over again, they insisted that Jesus never broke the law. When I told them this wasn’t true, they asked for scripture references. Now, if these people really followed Jesus and spent time reading the Bible, they would know that Jesus broke the law…many times. Again, I was dumbfounded. First of all, why do they think Jesus was crucified? I reminded them that Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman and that he healed on the Sabbath. I reminded them that Jesus defended his disciples when they plucked grain on the Sabbath. An additional time was when he overturned the tables in the temple. All of these actions were illegal.
  2. Many of Graham’s followers insisted that most of the people crossing at the border were criminals that had kidnapped children and/or who were involved in drug cartels. They used this as justification for child separations at the border. I know where they are getting this false info – it comes directly from Trump as he has stated many times that those crossing the border are all “bad people”. I checked the facts. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection website reports the following numbers: From October, 2017 to June, 2018, there were 286,290 unaccompanied minors and family units apprehended at the border (37,450 unaccompanied minors and 68,290 family units for a total of 286,290). During that same time period, 4,886 of those were criminal aliens. This means that 1.8 percent of people crossing at the southern border were actually “bad people” as Trump calls them. When I posted these stats on Franklin Graham’s site, I was insulted so much by one woman that I ended up having to block her. She clearly didn’t like to be proven wrong.
  3. The scripture passage that some of Graham’s followers use over and over again to justify their support of Trump’s zero tolerance policy is Romans 13:1-7. I would like to spend a little more time on this one. This verse tells us that we should obey our leaders and government. That part is true. However, should we blindly follow government and follow all rules without question? Here’s a better question – are we expected to blindly follow dictators like Hitler and Stalin? The answer is no. Here are some facts:
  • The word “governing” in this passage was translated from the Greek word “hupercho” which  means “morally excellent.” This word does not refer to a person who is corrupt or who is morally lacking.
  • Hitler used Romans 13 to force church compliance during World War II.
  • We have to remember that Jesus broke unjust man-made laws, and so did Peter and Paul.
  • There are many times in the Bible where civil disobedience was honored by God. Examples can be found in Exodus 1 (midwives not following the command of the King of Egypt, and God rewarded them), Daniel (he did not follow the rule to not pray, yet God saved him from the den of lions), Acts 4-5 (Peter and John arrested by the Sadducees for preaching about Jesus, but they were released because they were performing many miracles), and most terrifying, Revelation 13:13 (the dragon gives all AUTHORITY to the beast, and everyone whose name has not been written in the book of life will follow it).
  • The bottom line: We are to obey JUST laws and follow MORALLY EXCELLENT LEADERS. We must take Romans 13 in context with the rest of the scripture. There are many cases of civil disobedience in both the Old and New Testament. The disciples were imprisoned for civil disobedience. How can we tell when it is OK to rise up and resist against authority? The answer to that is easy…when man-made law is in conflict with God’s law. Some of those on Franklin Graham’s page insist that we must obey all laws, and they use this as a justification for separating families. When I told them that God calls us to be compassionate and that He also calls us to treat the foreigner as a native of our land, they insist that we must follow the law. I think you get the point by now. We must follow man-made law if and only if it agrees with God’s law. If it conflicts with God’s law, it is OK to resist authority.

4. During these conversations on Franklin Graham’s Twitter feed, it became apparent to me that these people appear to be modern-day Pharisees. No matter how many times I tried to explain everything that I have written in this blog, they kept going back to “we must follow the laws all the time no matter what.” This is exactly what the Pharisees did in the gospels. It’s as if they are deaf. Then I realized that Jesus told us that there will be those who won’t listen…those who will not hear because they are not of God. I, of course, accept this teaching, but it does make me sad. I really wish people would at least try to understand scripture. I keep posting on his site because you just never know what kind of impact it may have….some who remain quiet may be taking this all in and may be listening closely. I sure hope so!

Have a wonderful and blessed weekend, everyone!

 

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