Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Two different opinions on illegal immigration

Illegal immigration is not often thought of as a human rights issue. Many think that the those in the country illegally are committing a crime and should not be in the states.

However, many immigrants are not free once they arrive here. Those who use smugglers to help them across are then used by the smugglers to do as they please. Those immigrants find themselves working for the smugglers in slave like conditions. It is for that reason that immigration can be a human rights issue.

As a part of the human trafficking series Mike McGraw of McClatchy Newspapers received two very different opinions of immigration.

The Rev. Ademar Barilli, the gun-toting, straight-talking Brazilian priest who runs a way station for migrants here, has a message for America.

Nothing, he says, will stop the flow of poor workers to higher-paying jobs in America. Not a wall, not the Border Patrol, not electronic sensors, not even the recession.

"Control of the border is a political facade," Barilli says, a facade that criminalizes migration and feeds a vast criminal network of smugglers and human traffickers.

Pushed by poverty and pulled by employers who profit from easily abused illegal workers, all migrants are trafficking victims, Barilli maintains.

While Barilli's definition of human trafficking is vastly broader than the one accepted by U.S. officials, his finer point is more subtle. Whenever illegal immigrants take out huge loans to pay smugglers and traffickers for the increasingly difficult illegal passage to the U.S., they are ripe for abuse from the moment they leave home.

And that's not likely to change, says Barilli, because "legalizing migration does not serve capitalism."

Light years separate Barilli's political philosophy from that of Aaron McKnight, a U.S. citizen and evangelical missionary working in Guatemala. But their immigration philosophies are not that far apart.

"Politically, I line up with the anti-immigration movement in the U.S.," McKnight said. "But after living here, my view has changed. I don't blame them for trying.

"After you see the poverty, see the kids that are so thin, the kids that have sores all over because they don't eat ... if I were in their parents' shoes, I would do the same thing."

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