I am an immigrant. My family traces its origins largely from Belarus. When the failure that was the Soviet Union finally collapsed in 1991, my family, like millions of Ashkenazi Jews at the time, emigrated to Israel. I was born there in 1997, and two years later, my parents decided to move to America on work visas. It would take 13 years before my parents and I became citizens in 2012.
Fast forward to today — immigration has been politicized like never before in this country, to the point where it is one of the primary issues of this election. Last Tuesday, some people took to chalking the streets with phrases like “Viva la deportation,” “Make America Great Again” and “Deport force coming,” obvious references to Donald Trump’s intended policy of deporting undocumented immigrants. In response, the Center for Latino Arts and Culture decided to hold an “emergency community gathering” about “anti-immigrant rhetoric.” This Tuesday, a “March for Justice” run by “UndocuRutgers” will take place, with the slogan “I am an immigrant” to combat these “acts of prejudice.” So, being an immigrant, I thought that I would weigh in.
Since 1875, the United States has had laws controlling immigration, which have steadily become more organized and comprehensive over time. Today, immigration is largely defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act. In his interview with the Targum, Carlos Fernandez claimed that “the myths of undocumented people, specifically, being criminals is simply not true.” However, this is a blatantly false statement. I would like to make this abundantly clear: Every single undocumented immigrant is in fact a criminal, having violated Title 8, U.S. Code § 1325, for which the punishment is imprisonment and fines. Moreover, every alien that crosses the border illegally or overstays their visa is subject to immediate deportation by Title 8, U.S. Code § 1227. As an immigrant, I do not take offense, nor do I see it as an act of prejudice to threaten “undocumented immigrants” with deportation, but rather the rightful enforcement of the law. This should not be controversial to state, in the same way that it should not be controversial to threaten murderers with jail time. Undocumented immigrants must serve their sentences, and then be immediately deported. In fact, as an immigrant, I find it much, much more offensive that UndocuRutgers has the gall to promote, condone and support breaking the law, after my parents and I had to wait 13 years to proceed from L-1 and L-2 visas to H-1B and H-4 visas, to green cards and finally to citizenship.
A nation has the right to determine who can and cannot come into it and how, and the enforcement of immigration law and the securing of borders is one of the most vital functions a government can undertake. Under every administration after Eisenhower, the federal government has made virtually no large-scale efforts to enforce the law and deport undocumented immigrants, and the population of such immigrants has skyrocketed to somewhere around 12 million.
Many protest that an effort to deport all undocumented immigrants would be too expensive, but this claim is easily disproven. The undocumented immigrant population, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, costs the American taxpayer $113 billion every year. As to their contributions, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy calculated that the undocumented population pays nearly $12 billion in taxes annually. This results in a net cost of about $100 billion a year, while the American Action Forum has estimated a cost of about $400 to $600 billion to deport all undocumented immigrants. In four to six years, therefore, the removed tax drain of undocumented immigrants would pay for the deportation, and then go on to save hundreds of billions for American taxpayers.
It is often claimed that America is a country of immigrants, usually followed by some recitation of the “New Colossus” poem on the Statue of Liberty. However, our immigration policy is based on laws, not poems. High-skilled immigrants are a boon to our economy and national character, and worker visa programs that bring them in should be increased. Undocumented immigrants, on the other hand, the majority of which are low-skilled according to Pew Research, depress American wages and directly compete with American low-skilled workers for jobs, workers for whom the unemployment rate is already nearly twice the national rate.
But most importantly, undocumented immigrants broke the law. UndocuRutgers claims their march is for “justice,” but they don’t know what that word means. Justice is mass deportation. Justice is respecting my family and millions of others like us. Justice is being anti-criminal, not “anti-immigrant.” Justice is enforcement of the law. I am an immigrant. Justice will be served.
Aviv Khavich is a School of Engineering sophomore majoring in computer engineering and computer science. His column, "Self-Evident Truths," runs on alternate Mondays.
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