a violation of human right?
Stretching 2,000 miles between the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific ocean is the border between Mexico and the United States.
Though heavily guarded by means of a wall and border control officers, people continue to cross the desert in hopes of getting passed the border into the United States. Some succeed, others are caught and turned away, and some never make it to the wall– according to Reverend Ben Daniel’s book, “Neighbor: Christian Encounters with “Illegal” Immigration” about 283 people are found dead in the desert each year,.
On Oct. 12, Daniel came to Central Oregon to read from his book and connect with others who are concerned about possible human rights violations in America’s immigration laws.
His visit was sponsored by the First Presbyterian Church and aided by Central Oregon Community College’s director of the Student Latino program, Evelia Sandoval. When she was approached by a contact from the church, Sandoval said she was eager to get involved.
“Ever since I started at the college last year, it’s a topic I’ve worked with… it’s a huge topic in Central Oregon,” said Sandoval.
Daniel said his goal for visiting Central Oregon was to help people see through what he believes to be myths about undocumented migrants.
“We need to be better at hearing and saying true things about immigration. There’s a lot of false information,” said Daniel.
According to the the Migration Policy Institute, 500,000 immigrants come into the United States illegally each year.
The Federation of American Immigration Reform are concerned that these illegal immigrants are harming the work force and burdening tax payers.
“A lot of the things we do, we do cheaply because of the low wages of undocumented migrants,” said Daniel.
He added that there are also a lot of undocumented migrants paying into social security through the use of fake IDs.
Greg Delgado, the Bend director of the Human Rights Coalition CAUSA, said that the belief that illegal immigrants are taking jobs from legal citizens is false.
“We have a lot of people going to college and getting degrees; these are the people who need jobs,” said Delgado.
He said the jobs being taken by the undocumented migrants are labor jobs that other citizens don’t want.
What makes our immigration policy immoral, said Daniel, is that it’s nearly impossible for unskilled workers to get into the country legally and it’s deadly to try to cross the border through the desert illegally. It’s a risk that some people are bound to take, said Daniel, because they have family, including children, on the other side.
“If your only motivation for crossing the border is a job, you may not work as hard to cross it. But if you have children across, you’ll do everything you can to get across. We’re separating families, which is good for no one,” said Daniel.
Another concern, said Daniel, are the way undocumented migrants who were brought to the country as children are treated. While they don’t have papers, they haven’t broken any laws, yet as teenagers they are treated as adults who have committed a crime if they’re discovered as being undocumented.
Those children will also have to pay international fees if they go to college, because they don’t have a social security number, even though many of them have lived in the US for their entire lives.
COCC student Gerardo Zaniga, also a member of CAUSA, said that the issue of immigration is one of deep concern to him.
“I have first hand experience with family and friends…they’re not out to exploit the system, as the general populace likes to think,” said Zaniga.
Daniel said he hopes that his visit to Central Oregon helped to raise awareness for what he believes to be a very important issue, with too much misinformation circulating around it.
“There isn’t one kind of undocumented migrant,” said Daniel.
You can contact Cedar Goslin at firstname.lastname@example.org