Friday, July 3, 2015
Undocumented Immigrants are victims, not criminals by Louis Marinelli President, Sovereign California PAC
There’s a reason millions of people make the journey to come to this country without a visa and millions more overstay their visa when they get here – life is “better” here. Or so they say. We don’t have the best education system in the world – that honor goes to South Korea. We don’t have the best health care system or the safest society. Those accolades go to the United Kingdom and Iceland, respectively. Yet the age-old adage that America is the land of opportunity endures.
It’s frightening to consider how bad life must be south of the border that millions seek a better life for themselves and their families in the United States and even risk their lives getting here. This is a country where you can be harassed by the police because of your skin color, where you can be fired and evicted from your home because of your sexual orientation, and where schools, cinemas, and now even churches are the scenes of horrific mass murder.
Yet millions make that perilous journey and are branded as criminals when they get here. The truth is that undocumented immigrants are not criminals, they are victims. Victims of the same federal government that we citizens are victims of. The federal government is responsible for racking up trillions of dollars of debt in our name, for mass surveillance programs spying on us, for an insolvent social security system threatening our livelihood, and for the militarized police force that has collectively killed 551 American citizens in the first six months of this year alone. To put that in perspective, one single person was killed by a police officer in the United Kingdom in 2013 and 2014 combined. During the same two-year time period, not one person was killed by a police officer in Germany for any reason.
If that is a glimpse of how our government treats the citizens and body politic of this country, it is depressing to consider how that very same government has behaved itself on the world stage. I submit to you that millions of undocumented immigrants from south of the border live in this country today not because America is such a great place but because it is merely a better place than the disaster zone that exists in Central America today as a result of a century of interventionist foreign policies.
The United States has been responsible for instituting forced labor and slavery, enacting embargoes and blockades, launching military invasions, planning government overthrows, encouraging civil wars, backing rebellions, seizing government assets, and conducting assassinations in Latin American countries everywhere from our southern border with Mexico to the southern tip of South America – and all in the last century. With this disturbing level of instability caused by American foreign policy and economic interests, it is no surprise that many Central American countries have not been able to develop societies from which people don’t need to flee in search of a better life.
Those who do flee come to the United States, ironically, the very country responsible for much of the instability that has plagued their nations for decades. When they get here they are called criminals? They are called illegal? It is the American government that is criminal. It is the American government that acts illegally. It is the American government that refuses to modernize its own immigration system.
And if there’s any doubt of the American government’s ability to create instability, look at the Middle East: Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein, the situation with Israel, the Iranian Revolution – all products of American interventionism. Given this history, the least we can do is embrace our fellow Americans from south of the border and that’s what the California Immigration Reform Act does.
First, I’d like to point out that the California Immigration Reform Act is not amnesty. It is a program that allows undocumented immigrants to live in California without fear of deportation or exploitation. In order to participate, undocumented immigrants must register and pay state income taxes. Currently we don’t know exactly how many undocumented immigrants are here. This initiative changes that. Currently we don’t know that all undocumented workers pay state income taxes. This initiative changes that. This is a very practical state solution to a federal problem.
Now, a lot of thought went into creating a system to protect the undocumented throughout this process. This initiative prohibits sharing any information with the federal government. The initiative also transforms your local DMV into the Department of Citizen Services where everyone will go for driver licenses, to register to vote, to register a car or a boat… and to register as an undocumented immigrant. Federal agents parked outside in a black suburban will not be able to tell the difference between citizens, documented immigrants, and undocumented immigrants standing together in the same lines.
Undocumented immigrants will have a very real reason to come forward and register. This initiative provides undocumented immigrants who come forward a guarantee that no state or local funds or resources will be used to assist the federal government in locating, detaining, or deporting them. Undocumented immigrants who remain unregistered are not provided with the same guarantee.
Our ballot proposal is very practical. No legitimate immigration plan includes rounding up millions of people and deporting them. That means millions of undocumented immigrants are here and are here to stay. Personally, I welcome them. Sovereign California welcomes them. We believe the majority of Californians will welcome them, too. For those who don’t, I ask you to ask yourself these questions:
- Is it better for us to have an accurate number of how many undocumented immigrants are living in California, or better not to know?
- Is it better for us to have millions of undocumented immigrants using taxpayer-funded public services who pay state income taxes, or better that some did not pay state income taxes?
From a practical dollars and cents standpoint alone, clearly the answer is to encourage registration and the payment of state income taxes and that’s what this ballot proposal achieves.