The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Kumar: Immigration law needs empathy

An unidentified Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation officer reviews forms at the the Pacific Enforcement Response Center in Laguna Niguel, Calif., in an April 26, 2017, file image. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

While it may be illegal to cross the border, the law needs to show empathy too.

By: Michelle Kumar

[email protected]

This week, Scott Warren was arrested for providing food, water, and medical care to migrants who had illegally crossed the border.

Warren didn’t deserve to be arrested, but the migrants in the desert don’t deserve to die, either. Many Americans have either said this was an unnecessary arrest or that it was justified, because he was aiding and abetting people who broke the law. We all know crossing the border is illegal, but thousands of people still attempt to make this dangerous journey through the desert. Most are looking for a better life, but the messy U.S. immigration system makes illegal crossing the only option for many.

The U.S.-Mexico border is almost 2,000 miles long, leaving a big job for ICE agents. Many U.S. citizens have taken pity and provide or leave food and water for those who make it across. Although this makes the ICE’s job harder when it comes to deterring crossers, the alternative is an increase in death rates.

What immigration law lacks in this country is empathy. Shooting people on sight is not an option; we are not a hostile nation. We are a developed country that plays a prominent role in world affairs, and it would be an immoral example for us to set. Moreover, nativist policies that deter any sort of immigration will not solve the issue. It’s a globalized world, whether we like it or not, and immigration is not only inevitable but necessary. The U.S. needs to make this process easier, not harder.

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Offenses of Title 8 of the U.S. Code 1324 states that “Subsection 1324(a)(1)(i)-(v) prohibits alien smuggling, domestic transportation of unauthorized aliens, concealing or harboring unauthorized aliens, encouraging or inducing unauthorized aliens to enter the United States, and engaging in a conspiracy or aiding and abetting any of the preceding acts. Subsection 1324(a)(2) prohibits bringing or attempting to bring unauthorized aliens to the United States in any manner whatsoever, even at a designated port of entry. (DOJ)”

Warren was charged with alien smuggling, and it could be said that he encouraged or induced people to cross. That’s for attorneys to argue in court. As of now, there has been no additional reports released regarding the details of the arrest and charge. It shouldn’t be the case that Warren was breaking the law by showing humanity and not wanting to see people die. It’s more than an argument of the law, it’s argument of morality.

RELATED: Immigration hits home

Research and studies have shown that nativist policies increase the rate of illegal crossings. As of May 2017, more than 6,000 migrants have been found dead in the desert. The ICE was aware that migrants could get sustenance at a variety of places. What’s disturbing is the footage released of them deliberately destroying these resources. If the ICE is aware of these locations, there’s no reason migrants can’t get medical attention and sustenance, at no cost to the taxpayer, and then be sent back.

Xenophobia and nativism are not excuses for a lack of human decency. Instead of focusing on policies that benefit individual countries, the responsibility must be shared, and the United States should negotiate a policy that helps migrants and refugees.

The issues of security and lack of resources do not justify the loss of life. Policy can be implemented and negotiated internationally without infringing on autonomy, and that will save millions of migrant and refugee lives. Hopefully, when President Donald Trump unveils his immigration policy, it will include solutions for our broken system rather than nativist rhetoric that has been proven not to work. It’s not about treating the aftermath by letting migrants die or deporting them, it’s about treating the issue at its core and working with Mexico to make migrants want to stay.

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