The immorality of Trumpist immigration enforcement: Criminalizing poverty

Metal Prison Barbed Fence Wire Detention Jail

Dear Rebecca:

The good folks at Cato, a libertarian think tank, have an analysis of the Securing America’s Future (SAF) Act, a House GOP bill that “is a comprehensive immigration reform bill posing as a DACA fix.”

Here’s the horrific part:

The worst enforcement provision is criminalizing simply being in the United States without status or violating any aspect of civil immigration law (p. 170). This would turn millions of unauthorized immigrants into criminals overnight. It would also criminalize legal immigrants who fail to update their addresses, carry their green card with them at all times, or otherwise abide by the million inane regulations that Congress imposes on them. Take, for example, the status provided to Dreamers in this bill. It requires them to maintain an annual income of at least 125 percent of the poverty line (p. 396). If they fall below that level for 90 days—not only are they subject to deportation again—they would be criminals. This bill literally criminalizes poverty among Dreamers.

I honestly don’t care about the rationale for this measure; I don’t care to try and examine it even-handedly. Criminalizing poverty — even among immigrants — is immoral and wrong. It’s a policy that’s wrong on its face, and it has the added compounded sin of making it even more difficult for that immigrant ever to climb above the poverty level. If it’s not purely evil, it’s dumb. Either way, the anti-immigration crowd continues to show a dearth of humanity.


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