Undocumented Immigrants in the US: Between Terror and Hope

I don’t believe that any sovereign country exists in the world that accepts or can be convinced to allow anyone who illegally crosses its borders to remain and live within them. It is difficult to believe that someone has the right to move from one country to another without first requesting permission from the authorities of the receiving nation. If I’m not mistaken, the only case I know of where citizens of a country arrive in another illegally and are received with open arms is that of the Cubans who are able to set foot on United States soil.

The famous Cuban Adjustment Act, from which countless tragedies have arisen throughout the years, is the only exception of which I know. This law, which can very well be considered criminal due to its terrible consequences, was initiated in 1966, and has served as a magnet for attracting Cubans who seek a new life in the United States. Many Cuban compatriots have lost their lives trying to reach the coast of this country, aware that they must only set foot in it in order to have legal status.

The Canal de la Mona, which separates the Dominican Republic from Puerto Rico, has witnessed the deaths of thousands of Dominicans and Haitians who have tried to cross it, seeking a better life. Thousands more have succeeded in reaching land and live clandestinely, hidden from North American immigration authorities in cities such as New York, Washington or Miami. All of them know that if they are found, they will be put on a plane or boat and will be sent back to their respective countries. Mexicans and Central Americans have lived in the same way for years, between terror and hope, and have bet their own lives by crossing the Rio Grande in search of the “American dream.”

It is estimated that 11 million people live undocumented in this country, and that thousands continue to arrive daily via different routes in order to live the same way. Among them are not only adults, but also children and adolescents, who come to look for their parents, who live stranded here for fear that immigration authorities will discover them. They are human beings without legal documents, who, in the majority of cases, are sadly exploited by people who take advantage of their migratory condition to turn them into modern-day slaves, paying them miserable salaries for their work.

It is a monumental problem that the authorities of this country have in their hands because even if at this moment they resolve the legal status of the millions who are residing here, what are they going to do with those who are constantly arriving without having previously been to a consulate to get a visa?

The worst part of this situation is that instead of searching for legal means to resolve the problem of these millions of human beings, the governing bodies of this country have done absolutely nothing to find a definitive solution. Many different politicians who have passed through the White House have foolishly continued to just put tape on this delicate problem, and lawmakers have continued to politicize an inherently humanitarian topic. Every time they have tried to reach the bottom of the matter, for one reason or another, they have only scratched the surface.

The topic of illegal immigration in this country, after the latest failure in Congress, has been once more swept under the rug by the decision of President Barack Obama, by means of presidential decree and without congressional consent, to put a Band-Aid on illegal immigration. Obama, who promised a profound reform when he was running for the presidency, has had to conform to simply and slightly bending the immigration laws.

Since the president has acted by means of decree, his enemies in Congress are accusing him of acting in a dictatorial manner, of which they did not accuse George W. Bush, who governed all that he wanted by decree during his eight years in the White House. What’s more, Obama is the president who has least utilized the power of executive order since the time of William McKinley, between 1897 and 1901.

I imagine that someday, the governing powers of this country will make the decision to undertake true and integral migratory reform that will be able to provide for the indiscriminate arrival of undocumented immigrants and that will legalize those who already reside here. Meanwhile, millions of human beings in this country will continue to live between terror and hope.

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