Families without resident status live in fear. Fear of separation, fear of discovery, fear of being torn away from their children, the fear that the place where they reside has the power to abruptly void their efforts at happiness and success, to abritarily interrupt their security and peace, to arrest their hard work to build a life of promise–merely because they live in a place that places property rights in front of people–that to live in this place, people not born here must get in line.
But what happens when there’s no line? Three percent of America, around ten million people including children, entered the country outside of the non-existent line and their presence challenges whether the laws of immigration are just. That argument, whether the law is fair or just, is ignored by politicians and many citizens who claim a law is a law–until they find a law with which they disagree–Obamacare, for example, one they claim denies their freedoms; or background checks for gun ownership which is envisioned as part of an imagined conspiracy to create a national roster in order to take away private guns.
What happens when there is no line is people who entered the country without attention to the administrative details are left in limbo and hide in the shadows. They feel hunted, haunted by living on the edge even as they join in the mainstream to cook meals and make beds, even for the families of persons nominated to Cabinet offices, so deeply are they a part of America’s fabric.
Myths about these families and workers are a part of politics of denigration: among the disaraging claims: “they” hold down wages, overcrowd schools, draw heavily on social benefits, deny others opportunity, undermine the social order. Much of this is victim blaming: often low wage jobs are all that is open to them as workers; many are not eligible for social benefits. They work jobs for which there is little demand or competition. Their incomes help the American economy grow.
Because they were unable to get in line, they are a constant source of blame. Even the exodus of children from Central America in the spring and early summer of 2014 were seen as willing to walk hundreds of miles for a hot box lunch and an air conditioned cot, even as the children themselves spoke of the desire for education and opportunity, or reunification with their family, or spoke of fleeing gangs in their communities who had threatened them with rape or violence, even death.
Is it illegal, under the authority of law by precedent and court rulings, to grant work permits to families already working? Is it illegal to say you will not be removed from your jobs? Is it illegal to perform background checks on people already here? Is it illegal to charge a $500 fee to meet the administrative costs? Is it legal to set priorities for deportation that puts working families who have been here for 5 years, who pay the fees and pass the review in a program category safe from deportation for the next 3 years?
Congress only funds 400,000 deportations annually. Sensibly, creating effective priorities for deportation means sorting out bad guys and latecomers from the earnest and long term earners. The funded level of deportations will continue–as the law requires–400,000 annually, by why is it illegal to secure in a program those working who represent no threat?
Especially, when Congress has repeatedly failed by law to establish a line?