Dear Madam or Mr President:
My name is Abigail Hedges from Grand River Preparatory High School. I was recently inspired by the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TED talk on the Danger of a Single Story. It all started when this Nigerian author was studying at a University in England. Her English roommate asked if she could listen to Adichie’s “tribal music” not knowing that Adichie listened to the same music that she did. Later on one of her professors said the novel she had written wasn’t “African” enough. Both of these situations made her realize that people have a single story of Africa: that everyone is poor and lives in mud hut. But the problem with that story is that it is just one of many stories. It does not address the many other aspects to Africa, and it minimizes the complexity of the world as a whole. Illegal immigrants are often represented in the same way by only a single story, whether one of a desperate family seeking help or a criminal fleeing from justice.
We can’t ignore the fact that some illegal immigrants are criminals and drug dealers. There are over 11.4 million illegal immigrants in the US. In 2015, about 149,513 illegal immigrants who were removed from the US were convicted of a crime. This is 59% of all removals in 2015 so you would think that means that there are more people coming in illegally who are criminal, but actually the total number of illegal immigrants that have been removed has decreased quite a bit, so there are less criminals being removed, although the percentage of criminals has gone up. But this is only part of the story.
Many illegal immigrants are women and children, such as Ana Bonilla-Martinez’s family, who are forced to move to the US because they are suffering from the violence and poverty that is prevalent in their own countries. Ana Bonilla-Martinez’s mom moved to the states so that she could support her family after the death of her husband. Many of these people are desperate and they actually need help. I am not excusing their actions - coming in illegally is still against the law - but they are in a different situation than criminal illegal immigrants and therefore they shouldn’t be dealt with in the same manner.
There are many facets to the reasons illegal immigrants come, some may be coming into our country with evil intentions, thus presenting a danger to the US and its citizens, but there are almost as many immigrants coming in illegally in order to escape from their life of poverty and violence. Neither side can be neglected when addressing this issue. Often when discussing illegal immigrants only one story of illegal immigration is talked about, while leaving the other ones out that are just as important. But policies having to do with illegal immigrants should address both instances of illegal immigration.
I would ask that as you are called to suggest laws to congress and either veto or sign them that you consider the many aspects of the illegal immigrants and that the policy you suggest would reflect both sides. On one hand, I ask that you make sure the border is secure to protect our nation, but also that those who are truly desperate and in need would be more easily able to become citizens so they don’t feel the need to come through the border illegally.