This election season, we have heard some disturbing ideas regarding the future of immigration policy in our country. Donald Trump has proposed the following on his website:
Mexico must pay for the border wall and, until they do, the United States will, among other things: impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages; increase fees on all temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats
(and if necessary cancel them); increase fees on all border crossing cards; increase fees on all NAFTA worker visas; and increase fees at ports of entry to the United States from Mexico [Tariffs and foreign aid cuts are also options].
These proposed changes are completely unworkable for multiple reasons. First, Trump’s immigration ideas threaten our diplomatic relations with Mexico. The Mexican President has declared his country will absolutely not pay for the wall. Threatening to increase fees or even cancel diplomat visas poses obvious problems for diplomatic relations. If this is the way Trump approaches foreign policy and diplomacy, then our national security is at risk with him at the helm.
Second, Trump’s plan puts our nation’s food security at risk. Like it or not, the reality is many of our farmers depend on migrant workers to harvest food. “Agricultural labor is basically a 100 percent immigrant category,” says Princeton University sociologist Doug Massey, who studies population migration. If we force undocumented workers out of agriculture, then our American farms will not be operational. We will have no choice to rely on imports from other nations, which leaves us completely at their mercy.
Even if we believe our agricultural industry needs to offer more protections and benefits to workers, we need to make sure the farm owners are in control of their business models, supporting wise and practical changes that empower our businesses and strengthen workers rather than crashing a whole industry and taking away locally grown foods. Trump’s plan would rob farmers of labor; his proposal increases government involvement in one of our most important industries, among the many others that rely on immigrant workers.
We must learn lessons from places like Venezuela. In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez believed he knew how to run industries better than the people who had run them for decades or centuries. In the quest to benefit his people, particularly the poor, his government took control. The state meddled in business, driving the economy straight into the ground. Today, the Venezuelan people are worse off than ever. It is difficult for them to buy daily necessities such as toilet paper, and many foods are in short supply. Similar situations occurred in Cuba and the USSR when the Communists centralized control over industry.
While Trump is certainly not using Communist language or rationale to justify his immigration or other plans, his arrogance in assuming he knows how agriculture and other migrant-dependent industries should run is similar and poses the same threats.
We must not allow xenophobia to crush wisdom and paralyze our industries. May we honor the spirit of freedom, respecting both our captains of industry and the workers who breathe life into our businesses and put food onto our tables. We must understand just how important immigrants are to our nation; we must carefully choose immigration policies which support immigrants’ best interests as well as the interests of our national security and economy.
If you or someone you know needs the help of an immigration attorney, our highly experienced team is here to assist you. Please contact our experts today to schedule your consultation.