Migrants are Humans Too

For people across the world seeking a better life, the United States of America has long served as a symbol of optimism, freedom, and endless opportunities. However, the current state of U.S. immigration laws and policies fall short of reflecting these values, leading to the increasing and drastic dehumanization of individuals seeking refuge within the country’s borders, like for example, a Muslim travel ban and mass deportations. It is time that the U.S. government addresses these issues and implements a comprehensive reform of its immigration laws not only to address the urgent challenges of our time, but also to send a message abroad and reaffirm the country’s continuous commitment to humanity and compassion.

The current U.S. immigration system is famous, but for the wrong reasons. In recent years, the American immigration system is often characterized by its complexity, ineffectiveness, and rigidity. When immigrants arrive for the first time in America, families are quickly separated; asylum seekers face uncertainty; and thousands of individuals endure inhumane treatment due to outdated regulations. Unfortunately, these experiences do not align with the core principles that America glorifies itself with. A reform of the system, therefore, is not just a practical necessity for the nation, but a must to ensure that the U.S. upholds democratic values.

One critical area of reform required is the asylum process. Many individuals, due to reasons including poverty or conflict, may decide to seek asylum in the United States. Even though the approval of their asylum application is desperately needed, many face a bureaucratic labyrinth that prolongs their suffering. Here, it would be productive for the U.S. to further expand and expedite its asylum process. One way to start, for instance, is to remove the extensive list of exceptions that one must meet in order to be admitted. If one is seeking asylum, there is already a need for it, and it is immoral to deny those who so desperately seek it. It has long been clear that the United States is capable of properly managing the influx of migrants, like – for example – during the late 19th and early 20th century in Ellis Island and Angel Island. What must not happen, however, are immigrants suffering through no fault of their own. Reform would not only make the overall process easier and quicker but would also humanize it, removing an added burden of suffering experienced by vulnerable individuals.

Another significant issue is the impact that the asylum-seeking process has on families. Under the current system, families are separated for an absurd amount of time, forcing them to essentially navigate this convoluted process alone. Moreover, bureaucratic obstacles and lengthy legal requirements exacerbate prolonged times of separation. Such an environment has the potential to be emotionally devastating, especially for children, who can remain separated from their families for years, perpetuating a sense of loss and instability that drastically impacts their ability to later integrate into American society. Here, a comprehensive reform would prioritize family reunification, putting humanity and dignity at the heart of the asylum process.

Lastly, millions of undocumented immigrants currently reside in the U.S., some living with daily fears of deportation and exploitation due to their status. Not only is this a heavy mental burden to carry, but this can affect aspects of an immigrant’s life that are unknown to many. Their ability to work, seek medical help, report crimes, or engage in their communities, for example, are numerous areas impacted by a lack of proper documentation. A comprehensive reform would rectify this, providing a fair and accessible pathway to legal status and, ultimately, citizenship. Not only, but the U.S. should also focus on hiring more immigration judges and staff so that trials happen quicker. Additionally, detention centers should be completely rebranded, and instead of confining migrants there for an unlimited amount of time, they would be provided with appropriate housing, legal assistance, medical care, and so forth. More importantly, however, the initial screening process should drastically be improved. These would lessen the burden of living undocumented by offering immigrants the tolerant and respectful treatment that they are entitled to.

Iuri M. Piovezan is a graduate student at Villanova University studying Political Science. He has also received a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies from Temple University in 2022.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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