Mark Krikorian and Edwidge Danticat represent two different sides of the immigration issue. Krikorian’s piece, “Safety through Immigration Control,” sees a connection between loose immigration laws and terrorism. He goes further by saying that “a fuller understanding of the issue is necessary if we are to fix what needs to be fixed and reduce the likelihood of future attacks.” He doesn’t limit this terrorism to the Middle East, but he says that a major threat is in the suicide attacks. He says that “of the forty-eight al-Qaida operatives who have committed terrorist acts here since 1993…a third were here on various temporary visits, another this were legal residents or naturalized citizens, a fourth were legal aliens, and the rest had pending asylum applications. Nearly half of the total had, at some point or another, violated immigration laws.” He argues that our ineffective immigration laws leave us “naked in the face of the enemy.”
Danticat, on the other hand, speaks with the voice of an immigrant; she moved from Port-au-Prince to New York at the age of twelve. She tells of her visit to a Comfort Suites hotel, one of the asylums where women and children from Haiti are being held. The juxtaposition and irony of this adds fuel to Danticat’s argument. These people “fled their countries in haste, in desperation, hoping for a better life,” and they are being held in a mainstream, commercial hotel that seems to promise comfort. Danticat tells of many individuals who in this situation. As she continues, she tells the story of her uncle and how the immigration laws affected him.
Both of these pieces point to flaws in America’s immigration system. Krikorian sees them as too loose; the majority of al-Quaida members were working towards gaining rights as immigrants to intensify and broaden the effects of their terrorism. Danticat sees them as stringent and inhumane. When her uncle made it to the United States, he was running for his life. He was seen as a criminal, when the only reason he had these death threats was because the Haitian police and the UN used his home as part of their mission. People with bad intentions slip through the cracks while innocent and needy people can’t get the care or protection they need. Even if we tighten our immigration laws, setting way stricter procedural rules on it, I believe terrorists will still get through. America is supposed to be the shining city for all, a beacon of hope for those who need it. When we look into the face of an immigrant, we need to understand that they are human. Not all immigrants have bad intentions as those in al-Qaida do. I understand the need for standards and procedures, but do people like Danticat’s uncle need to suffer and sometimes die? I don’t think America is living up to its ideals with this social justice issue.
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