Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Broken System

As a Puerto Rican, my family has benefited from a unique relationship with the United States. As a Floridian, I am used to seeing Cubans arriving on boats and immediately receiving citizenship. As an American citizen, I have witnessed the flaws and hypocrisy in this current immigration system. I have seen the Cuban families who traveled 90 miles to reach Florida while I have also witnessed Haitians travel more than three times that distance only to be turned away. I have heard of the struggles and of the frequent deaths of Latin Americans who cross miles of desert in the pursuit of a better future.

I understand the American political decision to welcome Puerto Ricans and Cubans to the United States; however, I cannot accept their decision to bar others the same opportunities. The lure of a better life in the United States is enough to cause entire families to uproot themselves and then risk their lives in the pursuit of this American Dream. In the case of Puerto Rico, its unique status makes the island an extension of the American Domain. For this reason, inhabitants of the island are considered citizens. In the case of Cuba, the decision to grant amnesty to all asylum seekers is a political stance intended to show American opposition to the Cuban government. I would like to ask, what about the Haitian Government? With the threat of a Cholera epidemic after the terrible 2010 earthquake, will the US now consider opening its doors more widely to this population that is willing to travel across mines of treacherous sea in rickety boats? What about the situation in Mexico? With the Mexican Federal government currently engaged in a war of attrition with Mexican Drug Cartels, this confrontation’s death toll approaches 30,000. The violence varies from region to region with some regions being administered by the drug lords themselves. The lack of a federal presence in these regions coupled with the government’s inability to halt the corruption and violence has caused many to fear that Mexico will become a “failed state”. Will it be at that time that the US will finally consider granting amnesty to this silent population of workers, or will it continue to ignore these masses? Will it require nothing short of a communist takeover of Mexico to get the United States’ attention? Are the lives lost crossing the US-Mexico border any less tragic than the Cuban lives lost at sea? Why do we value the risks and sacrifices of one group more favorable than the rest? It is time for the United States to realize that its current immigration system is broken. It is time that we factor in human lives into our country’s political calculations.