For a country populated almost entirely by immigrants America is amazingly xenophobic. As a second generation American I never gave immigration policy much thought. The extremely conservative political philosophies that drove me to law rarely contemplated immigration policy. Three years ago my life changed when I began working as an immigration attorney in New York City. Minutes after I took my first step into an immigration courtroom I was struck with an overwhelming realization. Regardless of one’s personal opinion regarding the economic or social ramifications of immigration, the undeniable truth is that America’s immigration policy is totally fucked.
I was fascinated by lack of humanity and utter disregard for the rule of law and individual liberties that built this country. I spent the past three years learning everything I could about America’s immigration laws, immigration policy throughout the country’s history, and trying to make sense of it. I began taking on pro-bono cases and volunteering at community events to help immigrants in need.
One evening I was sitting in traffic on a bus on a single lane road of in some neglected neighborhood I could not name, making my two-hour trek home from an immigration detention center in Hudson Country New Jersey. I was anxious having just left a jail with loud clanking doors that had to be buzzed open. I was depressed having just met with a father of two young children who reminded me of my own father. I felt sudden relief. I finally realized that I could not help this man or any one else victimized by the Federal Government. No matter how hard I worked, no matter how well meaning my motives, I couldn’t fix this mess.
Golf is a game in which a person hits a tiny ball great distances into a tiny hole using tools intentionally ill-deigned for the said task. Similarly, America’s immigration system is, by design, overly complicated and difficult. I fucking hate golf. I believe Mark Twain most accurately described golf as, “a walk in the park spoiled.” Golf is of course a voluntary challenge taken on by men with too much money and loveless lives. America’s immigration system on the other hand, is violent, and involuntarily forced upon people.
Immigration laws are all premised upon the concept that people born outside a particular geographical area (the United States) are not people. America proudly declared that “all men are born equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.” Over the decades our Courts have recognized that “all men” includes black men and even women, thus all human beings. However, America’s immigration laws draw a line in the sand, all humans does not include human born outside the country. Immigration law is the organization and codifying of discrimination.