The fundamental problem with the immigration debate is that it is all argued based on political rhetoric instead of reality. Having the important discussion about immigration cannot be had if the debate is framed on falsehoods. Forget whether immigrants are a danger to the nation or whether they take American jobs away because no one is seriously talking about those issues. Instead, and as exemplified by Donald Trump’s rhetoric, the discussion is centered on rhetoric.

Consider the immigrant caravan that started in southern México and worked its way up to the United States. The discussion centered around “illegal” immigrants headed towards the border to “why doesn’t México stop them” unto Trump’s promise to keep them out of America. Trump even deployed the National Guard to the border ostensibly to protect America against an “invasion.”

So, let’s dissect the rhetoric so that a better understanding the problem can be had. Let’s start with the “invasion” rhetoric. About 400 immigrants reached the border last week. The 400 unarmed immigrants seeking a respite from violence is not an “invasion” force under any true definition of invading forces. This reality brings us to the most egregious misuse of the political rhetoric, the use of the word “illegal”.

Using “illegal” along with immigrants is designed to make it more palatable to argue for keeping them out of the country, after all “illegal” signifies dangerous to most people. Yet, the word is often misused because U.S. immigration law treats undocumented immigrants civilly and criminally, meaning that not all undocumented immigrants are “illegal”. The word also demonizes immigrants.

In the case of the caravan, none of the immigrants are “illegal” under U.S. law, not from the moment they entered México to today, where those that wanted to, are now in the United States. The word is obviously being misused to label the immigrants in the caravan to garner public support to separate them from law abiding citizens and immigrants. The fact is that the caravan immigrants did precisely what the law requires, they traveled to the U.S. border and turned themselves in, through a proper border crossing, into a border agent, and requested asylum.

That is the law and that is what the immigrants did – follow the law.

When the immigrants brought attention to following the law, the rhetoric moved towards the demand that México stop them. First and most important is that México should never enforce laws on the behalf of the United States. Americans would not want México to act as proxy to American laws and Mexicans would obviously not want their country to be subservient to American interests. Both U.S. and Mexican citizens will agree that each country should enforce their own laws in their own countries.

But the underlining reason for the demand that México stop the caravan had to do with the reality faced by the Trump administration – that the immigrants were following the law!

But it didn’t stop there as Donald Trump tweeted that the “border is under siege” and his administration promised to keep the immigrants out.

Yet, the reality is much different today. Of the 400 or so immigrants that made it to the border, about 228 decided to seek asylum under U.S. laws. The rest have decided to remain in México. All the 228 are now in the United States awaiting a decision on their petitions for asylum.

That’s right, Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions and cohorts while demonizing the immigrants promised to keep them out of the country. They did not.

The reason is simple, they followed the law.

As is typical with the immigration debate, the discussion has now moved away from the immigrants need to follow the law, like many have demanded to “weak and ineffective immigration laws.”

Notice what happened there?

Now the argument is centered on the laws of the United States because the immigrants did as many demanded – follow the laws.

Therein lies the problem for immigrants, the immigration process is a moving target. It is impossible to follow the law when the law is applied or blamed depending on the political rhetoric of the day.

The fundamental problem that no one in America wants to talk about is that immigrants are fundamentally economically necessary for the United States.

The left wants to use immigrants as political tools to oppose the right who also use immigrants as fodder to blame the Democrats for all that ails the country.

In the middle are the immigrants who are just pawns in a debate nobody wants to have a serious discussion about.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...