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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/25/18

Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity

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From Other Words

We should be able to debate immigration policy without calling people "animals" or disparaging the poor.


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I don't think I'm alone in believing there's an intrinsic value to human life.

That is, any human, no matter who they are or what they're like, has worth simply because they're human. On some basic level, all of us are equal and precious.

That's why many of us would save a human from a burning building before we'd try to save a dog. And why we'd go to extreme lengths to save the human if it's at all possible.

No doubt you have people you love, people you like, and people you dislike. There are people you wouldn't want to have as a neighbor, co-worker, or friend. But even when you dislike someone personally, and wish to avoid them, you wouldn't deny their fundamental humanity.

Or at least, I like to think most of us wouldn't. Apparently, though, some of us would.

I've been deeply uneasy with some trends that seem to rank some people as more valuable and others as less. One of them is the idea that immigration should be based on "merit."

What does merit mean? Merit as a human being?

What's actually meant by proposals to allow immigration based solely on "merit" is that only the wealthiest and most educated people can come to the U.S.

Calling that "merit" implies that one's worth as a human is dictated by their wealth and education. I don't believe that's true. I believe the poorest and most destitute refugee has equal worth to the wealthiest billionaire.

Beyond their intrinsic worth, immigrants who lack money and education make tremendous contributions. Not least, they put food on America's tables.

Immigration crackdowns in Alabama, Georgia, and California led to crops rotting in the field when undocumented immigrants were unavailable to pick them, and nobody documented was willing to do the job under the pay and working conditions being offered.

An even more troubling devaluation of human life was Trump's assertion that Central American gang members are "violent animals."

Obviously, few of us would defend or invite members of a violent gang into the United States. The problem here is that Trump has routinely tried to associate all immigrants -- and particularly those from Latin America -- with criminality.

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Jill Richardson is the proprietor of the blog La Vida Locavore. She writes on food policy issues and she is currently working on her first book, due out in 2009.

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