As Trump passes the hundred day mark of his presidency, anywhere from 12 to 20 million undocumented people in the U.S. are holding their breath. The increased deportations that have marked the Trump era are striking fear into illegal immigrants across the country.
Over the past three months, stories have surfaced of people being deported to violent nations, putting their lives back into the danger they came to the U.S. to escape. This blatant disregard for the safety and human rights of these people is inexcusable and goes against everything that the U.S. stands for.
Just last week Senator Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-PA) pleaded with the president in a stream of tweets as a woman and her child were being deported back to Honduras, which they fled after witnessing the murder of a family member and being pursued by a violent gang. This situation was all the more disturbing as the child was eligible for a Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.
The Trump administration’s stricter immigration policies seem to threaten not just illegal immigrants, but the industries that rely on their labor. According to data from the U.S. Departments of Labor and Agriculture, illegal immigrants made up 46 percent of the 800,000 farmworkers in recent years.
Immigration policy reform made up much of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Capitalizing on the growing trends of xenophobia and racism, he cornered the votes of many rural, white americans with half-baked campaign promises of “putting Americans back to work.” But many Americans aren’t willing to fill the positions being left open by the deportation of undocumented workers.
Farm labor is backbreaking work, and is often paid under-the-table with rates below the minimum wage, making it undesirable for American workers and difficult for farm owners to find employees. Ironically, many of the proprietors of these same farms that are now unsure of their workforce, were Trump voters last fall.
Sadly, these low-wage positions are critical to the economic viability of agricultural ventures in the United States.
According to a 2012 U.S. Department of Agriculture study the increased deportation of undocumented manual laborers could have “significant economic implications.” This does not bode well for agriculture, one of Oregon’s primary industries.
These economic implications are just one piece of the issue as with increased deportations become violations of the illegal immigrants’ human rights. Reports are circulating throughout the country of violent confrontations between the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and their detainees, and fear of deportation and violence has many illegal immigrants unable to work, cash checks or even leave their homes.
Our country was founded on the immigration of marginalized groups looking for safety and freedom, so how can we excuse denying these people those very same basic human rights? Immigration reform is necessary to provide clemency for people that have fled violence, as well as providing routes to citizenship for all of those who came to our country without proper documentation.