During one of the recent debates, the issue of immigration was raised. The leading candidate proffered that this issue was “simple.” He said that the “simple” solution is to insist that everyone here in the United States who is not currently in a legal status should be forced to return to their country of origin. He went on by clarifying that they would go to “the end of the line” when asking for legal status in the United States while waiting in their country.
I remembered this a few days later a young man came to my office with an injury. He had suffered a noticeable and legitimate injury at no fault of his own. He had approached the person responsible to ask for assistance with medical bills and was rejected. He came to me for help but was nervous about pursuit of recovery for damages because he was not in a legal status.
This young man spoke exceptional English and explained that he was brought here as a child so this is really the only country he knows. We talked about the difficulty he has since he can’t get a driver’s license and needs to drive in order to work. If he were stopped for a traffic infraction, there was a real possibility of him being deported.
He imagined the possibility out loud and he said something like, “I don’t know what I would do. I don’t know anything about that country, this is where I grew up. This is where my family is.”
There is absolutely nothing simple about the lives of people. The ramifications of a policy such as the one as the condescending political candidate proposes are disastrous for millions of people such as this young man. The simplicity of the solution is only from the perspective of the relatively privileged white people who self-righteously declare others to be “illegal.”
We need leadership that has the courage to recognize the ramifications of difficult issues while considering realistic and thoughtful solutions. We need leaders that recognize the complexity of the human condition in this and other contexts. We need leaders that respect human life without picking and choosing which lives to respect regardless of the political benefit.