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Taking the Hate Out of Immigration

August 2015 - ByShahzad Ahmed with NeJame Law

~ Let not the hatred of any people swerve you from justice. ~ The Sustenance 5:8 (Qur'an)

Once again as we enter the political season, the opposition to immigrants is at a high pitch. Immigrants are stereotyped as "illegals" or "criminals." To many, the term "immigration" conjures up images of workers in the fields who have snuck through the border and live in the shadows. However, the xenophobic approach to immigration hurts the very ideals upon which our nation was founded.

For the undocumented immigrants already in the United States, we must use the due process of law, which is embedded within our jurisprudence. We must continue to grant hearings via immigration judges in order to determine who is legally entitled to stay. Also, the Department of Homeland Security has already implemented a system whereby it prioritizes for deportation, and even detention, those aliens that have committed serious crimes or violations. Those who violate our criminal laws face our criminal justice system and then the deportation procedure. In addition, Congress must come up with a reasonable bipartisan solution which upholds our ideals of justice and liberty while dealing equitably with the undocumented immigrants living amongst us.

For those who are attempting to enter our borders surreptitiously, we must deal with them swiftly but humanely. Our Customs and Borders Protection should continue to honor our multinational treaty obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention, along with its 1967 Protocol. Refugees who articulate a credible fear due to the limited protected grounds, should be allowed a proper hearing for asylum. The relief of asylum does not extend to those who are solely fleeing poverty. In actuality, many refugees have a bona fide fear of being persecuted. Some are victims of human trafficking caused by the demand within the United States. Those who do not articulate a credible fear, are not victims, and who have no legal basis for being admitted to the United States, should be returned from the border. Moreover, our government should come up with along term preventative solutions to cure the problem of illegal entries. Our foreign policy with our neighbors and other countries should address the problem of illegal immigration. For example, our foreign aid can be made contingent upon the borrowing country's demonstration that it is curbing violent conditions within its borders which are causing refugees to flee to the United States.

It is also noteworthy that the economic contributions of aliens is often overlooked. In addition to the blue collar workers, which constitute an important part of our labor force, many immigrants are investors, entrepreneurs, doctors, engineers and other white collar workers. I represent many such clients. Thus stereotyping immigrants blurs the reality and prevents us from finding proper solutions.

Therefore, we must keep the name-calling and hate out of the immigration debate. We must recognize the human side of this issue and deal with immigrants with justice and due process of law. Do what you must, enforce the law, keep out the violators . . . but also take out the hate.

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