Barred In the Land of The Free

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Ever since the election of Donald Trump, much has been going awry in the Big Apple; in fact, racial discrimination and hate crimes became second nature for America. According to an analysis of FBI hate crime statistics, racial or ethnic bias increased the day after President Trump won the 2016 election, from 10 to 27%. Needless to say, that Trump’s reign has made life a living nightmare for immigrants in the US, and it didn’t take too long for ‘great America’ to take the level of discrimination up a notch.

In April and May, nearly 2,000 immigrant children were separated from their parents in April and May, states Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In early June, news of immigrant families being separated and detained spread like wildfire. All of these were taking place under the false allegations that they were caught trying to cross the southern border. The family detention is basically a ploy to mask the fact that Trump administration was prosecuting border crossing offences. Even though the law or court ruling on family separation has been enforced, the Trump administration hasn’t revoked this policy. Ever since this ‘zero-tolerance’ policy went effective, immigrant families, particularly adults are looking at a future which leads to deportation. While some may have the privilege of relatives looking after their children in their absence, others are forced to leave theirs behind at shelters.

In the wake of this policy, both adults and children are traumatized in more ways than one. Since the justice department can’t prosecute children and parents together, it’s led to an influx of family separations. The ordeal has indeed struck a chord in the hearts and minds of people in America, giving birth to the tagline ‘Families Belong Together’. People in New York City, Washington DC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco and in several other towns and cities, thousands of Americans protested against Trump administration policies that separated more than 2,000 undocumented immigrant children and left a vast majority of such children still held in federal facilities.

At the moment, the federal government is already working to build temporary facilities on military bases to accommodate thousands of migrant families. The DHS has asked the Pentagon to provide space for 2,000 detainees within 45 days. Its ultimate goal is to create space in order to detain 12,000 more people in family detention since the current facilities in family detention is only capable of housing 1,500. Some of the detention facilities are facing challenges in providing basic amenities, one of which happens to be medical support. In an interview with HuffPost, staff members at Federal Correctional Complex, Victorville, stated that initial medical screenings of the detainees were rushed and that comprehensive checkups for all the detainees will not be completed within the two-week period that’s standard procedure. This has led to an outbreak of scabies and chickenpox among the detainees; thus creating an avenue for more widespread infectious diseases.

Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, states that since 2014, families along with children have sought refuge in the US due to the rise in gang violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. While the US laws are in favour of providing asylum or refugee status to these immigrants, the Trump administration stresses that this will only give entry to smugglers and other national threats. In the US, the illegal entry does in fact count as a misdemeanour for first-time offenders and a conviction may lead to deportation. Now under Trump’s rule, deportation can be conducted by DHS more swiftly especially for misdemeanours.

The current scenario with family detention has indeed left the world gutted. Not only because children as young as infants and toddlers are being torn apart from their families but also because the removal of immigrants brings about an imbalance to the US economy.

What Trump and his posse fail to realize is that immigrants play a pivotal role in the country’s labor force. At the moment, there are 25 million immigrants working in multifarious job sectors in America. This includes undocumented immigrants, temporary residents, refugees as well as legal residents. In an article by Fortune, a report by the right-leaning American Action Forum stated that removing all undocumented workers and barring their reentry would cost somewhere between $400 billion and $600 billion while reducing real GDP by over $1 trillion.

Additionally, labor force participation of immigrants in the US is comparatively higher than native-born Americans. What’s unfortunate is that despite being an asset to the economy, immigrants continue to consistently early less than native Americans. Moreover, educated immigrants, preferably ones with a college degree earn about 2.8% per more than native Americans, states a recent US Labor Department Data. According to an analysis by Small Business Administration, 10.5% US immigrants own a business in comparison to 9.3% of native Americans; and not just that but they are also capable of starting businesses at a higher rate. Among every 10,000 immigrants in the US, around 62 will start a business, twice the rate for the native-born.

But it doesn’t all quite end here; immigrants were responsible for establishing one-quarter of the companies in America between 1990-2005. One-third of the companies that were publicly recognized between 2006-2012 had at least one immigrant founder. 51% of immigrant founders were part of 87 privately held companies which are currently valued at over $1 billion.

So far, immigrants are contributing to sectors like buildings and ground maintenance, construction, programming (computer, production, food prepping and catering, physical and social sciences, transportation and material moving as well as architecture and engineering, far more than native Americans. A 2017 Pew Research Center study states that there were 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States in 2014 and 71%, or 8 million of those 11.3 million, participating in the U.S. labor force. In comparison to the 49% in 2014, this is a significantly higher percentage than the U.S. population participation rate, estimates Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While America’s Fuhrer continues to impose the strict immigration policies, he loses sight of the fact that this poses a serious faux pas for his government, in terms of revenue. If the family detention ends with deportation, jobs occupied by migrants will be left behind. In addition to that, states like California, Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and Texas will incur severe losses, as these six states are home to the majority of unauthorized immigrants.

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