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Dissension: Keep everything in context

Approved by a 2-7 vote of the Scroll editorial board.

In 2017 alone, the people in the U.S. visited 27.9 billion media piracy sites, making our country the most frequent visitor of these illegal sites, according to Statista.

So why is it when we have a civil discussion about illegal immigration, we look down on those immigrants as if they were below us? If we fail to recognize the number of laws broken in this country daily, why do we choose to look down on immigrants illegally entering the country?

Yes, it is a crime, and no, we should not rid our nation of the rule of law, but it is important to recognize motive over everything.

These immigrants’ motives are not that of a teenager who downloads illegal music just to hear the new Drake album, or that of a businesswoman who speeds past a cop at 45 mph in a 35 mph zone. These people crossing the border are fleeing poverty, violence and gang or cartel-related issues that the majority in this country has the privilege to be safe from.

El Salvador, the Central American country where over one-fifth (1.1 million) of the population resides in the U.S., was the murder capital of the world with a rate of 104 people per 100,000 in 2015, according to Small Arms Survey. Violence can also be seen in areas of Honduras and in the northern state of Chihuahua, Mexico, where cartels run rampant.

To say that breaking the law is always justified is false, but to say it is never justified is even more false. As the 12th wealthiest country in the world, we have a moral obligation to be a safe haven and a light to our brothers and sisters not fortunate enough to have been born in our own circumstances. Besides, many immigrants are fleeing problems the U.S. had a hand in creating.

According to federal and international law, when immigrants come here and plead for asylum, they’re not breaking any laws. Under federal and international law, the U.S. is required to hear every single asylum claim. The majority of immigrants coming to the border are seeking asylum. They’re not coming here for economic reasons. They’re coming here because if they stay behind, they will die.

The asylum seekers’ stories detail the violence in their countries. Some of them tried to make their home countries better, but they lost family members, had their homes burned down or were personally attacked. Gangs told them their children had to join or die. When faced with that choice, the only option they truly had, for their family’s safety, was to run. They’re running from violence, just like the early pioneers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ran from violence and persecution.

If seeking asylum in a foreign country is illegal, then the early pioneers of the Church were all criminals. When the pioneers ran for their lives, they left the U.S. and crossed into Mexico. The pioneers didn’t have the option to stay and neither do many of these immigrants. They don’t have the option to wait six to 10 plus years for a visa.

Laws are important, but sometimes they’re morally wrong. Slavery and segregation were legal, but that didn’t make those laws right. We changed those laws then, and we can fix these immigration laws now.

We all know people who came here without documents due to no fault of their own; from DACA recipients who were brought here as kids to parents of citizens who left their country for a better life. They’re not “invading” our country as the president and attorney general would lead us to believe. They’re helping make the U.S. great.

Undocumented immigrants do not harm the country. Multiple studies have proven time and time again that, as a whole, they help the country, they’re not criminals and they’re less likely to commit crimes than citizens.

This country needs immigration laws; we’re aware of that. However, the U.S. must help everyone we can. It is what this country stood for when “The New Colossus” was mounted on the Statue of Liberty, and it is what the U.S. needs to stand for today.


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