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Is Deportation Compassionate?

“America is the last best hope of humankind.  To show true compassion globally, we should work to transplant the ideas that made it that way.”

To hear Democrats tell it (in public), U.S. immigration policy should be governed by compassion.  We learned this week from the infamous Jennifer Palmieri memo that in private, Democrat immigration policy actually is governed by a desire for new Democrat voters.  But if compassion were the motive, then why would it stop at U.S. borders?  Is deportation compassionate?

To show true compassion globally, we should work to transplant the ideas that made it that way.

If we really care about improving people’s lives, we should care about all God’s children, not solely those who are already within our borders.  People take enormous risks to come here from other countries because America is so much better than the countries they left.  Why not try to improve those countries by exporting our ideas?  Nobody is better positioned to do that than people who have lived here, seen what makes America great, and can go back and apply those principles at home.

If we really care about improving people’s lives, we should care about all God’ children, not solely those who are already within our borders.

When they put their skills and abilities to work, they will create a movement to clean up the corruption and economic stagnation that drove them – or their parents – to come here in the first place.  America is the last best hope of humankind.  To show true compassion globally, we should work to transplant the ideas that made it that way.

The Ones You Don’t See

When I was a young diplomat, part of my training as a Foreign Service Officer was to man the visa line at the embassy.  One day early in my training, I observed a very happy young man come to the window to apply for visas to take his wife and children to New York.  To prove his trustworthiness, he showed the vice consul that he already possessed a valid business/tourist visa, good for five years.  I expected the vice consul to issue the visas for the family trip, since he already had been to the States and returned.

“It’s easy to feel compassion for the ones you see, and know.  It’s much harder to feel compassion for the ones you don’t see – the ones who are waiting 6 years, 12 years, patiently following the law.”

However, when she looked at his prior travel, she saw that he had gone to the States six months earlier, stayed 5 and half months, and was returning with his family.  She suggested to him that he had come to America and gotten a job, and was about to bring his family to start a new life in New York.  He sheepishly admitted that she was right.

The vice consul canceled his existing visa, and added the dreaded “214(b)” stamp to his passport and those of each of his family members.  Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act declares that an applicant is ineligible for a visitor’s visa if there is reasonable suspicion that the person actually intends to immigrate.  Once that stamp is in the passport, that person will be rejected for every visa application.

The man looked at his passport and was visibly sick.  He fought back tears.  She explained that it was a violation of U.S. law for him to work in the U.S., or to try to immigrate here, without a valid immigrant visa.

My boss, the consul, had been watching me as I observed this, and suggested we go for a walk.  He asked me how I felt about what I had just witnessed.  I told him I had rarely seen such sorrow on a human face, and I felt sorry for the guy.  He had just achieved his life’s dream, and it had been taken from him.

I’ll never forget the consul’s reaction.  “You feel sorry for him because he’s there in front of you.  It’s easy to feel compassion for the ones you see, and know.  It’s much harder to feel compassion for the ones you don’t see – the ones who are waiting 6 years, 12 years, patiently following the law.  When you feel sorry for the ones you can’t see, then compassion becomes a more reliable guide.”

A Pathway to Citizenship Already Exists

Contrast that story with your friends and relatives who have immigrated by following the law.  How many years did they wait?  And how do they feel about living here?  Aren’t they eternally grateful for the privilege, and eager to repay their adopted country for the great benefits of living here?

In fact, for those who really love America, there already exists a pathway to citizenship, created by President Bush in 2002.  USCIS explains that any noncitizen can apply for citizenship by serving in the armed forces.  “The President signed an executive order on July 3, 2002, authorizing all noncitizens who have served honorably in the U.S. armed forces on or after Sept. 11, 2001, to file for citizenship under section 329 of the INA. Section 329 also covers veterans of certain designated past wars and conflicts. The authorization related to the War on Terrorism will remain in effect until a date designated by a future presidential executive order.”

We are a nation of immigrants, and we like it that way.  Let them come, legally, with true appreciation of what America is.  For those who are here illegally, a path to citizenship exists through honorable military service.  Those who choose not to take that path should be deported, where they can work together to improve their countries of birth.

It’s the compassionate thing to do.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Bart Marcois

Bart Marcois (@bmarcois) was the principal deputy assistant secretary of energy for international affairs during the Bush administration. Additionally, Marcois served as a career foreign service officer with the State Department.

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