Immigration debate has become twisted

Updated 1/29/2018 5:01 PM

The Trump administration makes false and misleading statements about immigration that misinform the public and significantly increase the risk of bad policymaking. Chain migration, formerly known as family reunification, was popular with conservatives, who bill themselves as the party of family values. Recently, however, Trump twisted this concept into a dog-whistle for those who fear culture shifts that come along with demographic changes.

Countries are not "sending us their worst people," as Trump falsely insists. No one is automatically allowed to immigrate to the US. Every person applying for residency in the U.S., including those winning visas under the lottery program, must go through a thorough vetting process that includes substantial criminal background checks, proof of financial security and a health exam. If an applicant fails any part of this process, their entire application fails. My Australian husband went through this process when he applied for his green card. It was lengthy, rigorous and expensive.

As Americans, we must work to confront the deeper issues clouding our political conversations about immigration: prejudice, racism, and fear. In times like these, we must remind one another that feeling uncomfortable is not the same as being unsafe. If we confuse those things, we risk protecting our personal comfort at the expense of other people's liberty. That is un-American.

I assure you it is no small thing to forsake your native land for a chance to adopt the banner of another. It demonstrates tenacity, courage and commitment - values Americans cherish. Those values can see us through this time of intense division, where politicians exploit our divisions for cheap votes. We must come together and reaffirm what it really means to be American: "e pluribus unum," out of many -- one, this time with liberty and justice for all.

Kim Cavill


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