The controversy on deportations and citizenship

Immigration trends and regulations have been points of interest in the past few years with the decisions of Congress having far reaching impacts in areas all over the country.  In response to the number of deportations, reaching up to 1,100 a day according to the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ), undocumented residents and their supporters have come together as part of a national campaign to stop deportations.  An example of one such response happened on March 25, 2014, when a group of undocumented residents and their supporters locked themselves together in front of the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Alabama as part of the protest.

This is a sticky situation.  Although these residents have built lives here in the States with their families, they do not have documents and are not citizens.  The supporters argue that deporting, or worse, detaining, one of their family members is unjust because it tears families.  When that family member is detained they are forced to live in conditions that may be less than desirable.  According to a recorded conversation with one of the detainees, they are made to feel like prisoners.

Supporters report that the numbers of people detained and deported are higher than ever before.  According to the Obama Administration, that number is going to reach the 2 million mark soon.  The group for stopping the deportations argues that a path to citizenship needs to be a part of the immigration reform.

On the other side, representatives are arguing that the illegal immigration takes away jobs from native born and legal immigrants in need of work.  It has been reported that many of the deportees are involved in crime.  Also, it’s stated that about two thirds of the removals last year were not deportations, but instead were apprehensions at the border.

I know it is difficult to make a decision regarding which regulations to make and how strict to make them, however it is important to treat the people in the detention centers with respect and to offer them the opportunity to gain citizenship.

Written by Michaela Lies, writing intern at Three Rivers Community Foundation and student at Washington & Jefferson College.