Why We Can’t Just Deport Everyone: And Other Dumb Questions

As the topic of immigration takes a front seat in the headlines it also becomes a key conversation topic. A topic that undoubtedly is controversial and not surprisingly very misunderstood. In fact it is so misunderstood that several anti-immigrant conservatives spew incorrect information with certainty and no data to back up their claims. My favorite was a recent poster on a Las Vegas Review-Journal article that wrote “illegals have it better than U.S. citizens.” Really dude?! So that is why they are fighting for a path to citizenship huh?

First off, the term is “undocumented” not “illegal” because a person cannot be illegal only their actions can. Whatever your position is on this immigrant debate and I love to have friends with varying opinions on everything (keeps me well rounded) I respectfully ask that you use the term undocumented instead. Both “Illegal” and “Undocumented” are interchangeable so I would see no reason not to use “Undocumented” other than to be a jerk. In which case I guess there is no reasoning. Anyway…below I will address several of the misnomers I read in the on-line comment sections about undocumented immigrants:

To the lady that says undocumented immigrants “are here to just leech off the system and get welfare and food stamps.”

Ma’am you are incorrect, undocumented immigrants do not qualify for these services, by law they cannot receive them and they simply don’t.

The rebuttal: “But they use fake or stolen I’D’s to get these services!”

Again ma’am you are wrong. Applying for and qualifying for these services is a tedious process that involves showing identifications. If undocumented immigrants are in fact using a fake ID it would be foolish to think that they would risk getting caught. In fact, undocumented immigrants have a reputation for staying away from government programs or services for fear of deportation, even when it means having to call the police. They are simply too scared.

To the man who says undocumented immigrants are “a drain on our hospitals and healthcare systems”.

Sir, that is true, but so is everyone without health insurance, which is at least a quarter of Nevadans. Generally insurance companies do not provide policies for undocumented immigrants and even then if you’ve checked on what it would cost an individual to get health insurance before the Affordable Care Act you’d see the average citizen Joe could probably not afford it.

Undocumented immigrants, however, do resort to health clinics where they pay a reduced amount and with no social security number or credit cards to put the bill on they typically pay up-front in cash. In fact, several studies suggest that Hispanic immigrants tend to be healthier than most Americans and this is with most of them being uninsured.

Here’s a good one “Why don’t they learn English? “

Good question, I wish they would just flip the “Speak English” switch they have attached to their backs. Look, they are immigrants and they usually come from non-English speaking countries so they don’t speak English. It takes time, but they do learn English. In fact by the third generation the Spanish-language is all but demised in a Hispanic immigrant family, which is very sad. Then those same third generation Hispanics get asked “Why don’t you know Spanish?” Perhaps if people wouldn’t look down on people for not speaking English Hispanics would preserve both languages better.

Here’s another good one. “Those illegal kids are a drain on our school system and we pay for their education”.

Actually, our weak tax structure is a drain on our school system, we have among the lowest funded per pupil districts in the country and that is what is reflected in our poor ranking. However, parents of undocumented children do pay for their children’s education because our schools are funded primarily by the sales and property tax since we have no state tax. Immigrants pay property taxes in their rent, they pay taxes in their purchases and in taxes they never claim back. In fact, many undocumented immigrants leave their families behind in their home country and their children are not educated here, but those same immigrants do pay for your child’s education – they just don’t complain about it.

This one is my favorite: “Why don’t they just get in line and come legally the way my ancestors did?”

Well Mrs./Mr. Smith, your ancestors most likely landed in Ellis Island stepped on land and registered for automatic citizenship. That is not an option for immigrants today. It’s apples to oranges. Yes, I understand your ancestors traveled by ship for weeks enduring hardships, dehydration, lack of food and unsanitary conditions to come here. Perhaps you’d like to have had them cross a desert for weeks instead?

Oh, and this line you speak of, it’s TEN YEARS LONG for immigrants wanting to come from Latin American countries, compared to two to five years for countries in Europe. Additionally, after paying a hefty application fee, often times the paperwork gets lost, delayed or is done incorrectly causing the applicant to start the process and the ten year wait all over again. We all know immigrants come here for a better life  and to support their families and many cannot wait a decade for that.

And finally….”Why don’t we just deport them all?”

Seriously? Even the most conservative of politicians and most vile of conservative commentators have admitted it would be impossible to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. The “why don’t we just deport them all?” comment – is just dumb!

These are just a few of the common misnomers about undocumented immigrants…stay tuned next week so that I may school you all on more common misperceptions.

Got to go do our office version of the “Harlem Shake” now….not sure you should stay tuned for that as my “shake” skills are a little “shaky”.

Till Next Time,

Michelle