Immigration facts spark a torrent of criticism
First, please permit me a clarification. In Tuesday’s article “Latinos sound off on raid rumors” (The Aspen Times, July 20), the information attributed to me was unintentionally misleading. I should have explained to reporter Katie Clary more thoroughly the difference between the two types of undocumented immigrants: those who reside in this country after their visas have expired, and those who came without visas.Today I had a long conversation with the Supervisory Special Agent, who is in charge of three offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This person confirmed that my information was correct.”Overstays,” i.e. people who come here with legitimate visas, and do not return home when the visas expire, are committing an “administrative violation.” The Special Agent said: “It is not a violation of a statute or law.” It is basically the same as a “civil violation” – NOT a crime.”Overstays” are not the same as “EWIs,” i.e. people who “entered without inspection.” That is a misdemeanor (Title 8 USC 1325), though rarely enforced unless there are other circumstances, such as previous deportation or violations of state statutes.Why do immigrants come here without proper documents? That’s a long and detailed discussion, but simply put, “green cards” are no longer available to unskilled laborers. Here is an economic illustration: There are three minimum wages in Mexico (depending on the region), ranging from $3.69-$4.10 per day, if you are lucky enough to have a job. That means workers can earn about 3,000 percent more by coming here.Let’s compare that to a U.S. citizen who earns $15 per hour. If our economic situation deteriorated to a point where that citizen couldn’t feed his children on that wage, but could move to another country and make 3,000 percent more, or more than $900,000 – would he?Since Tuesday’s article about Latino immigration, I have received numerous phone calls and e-mails from members of a national anti-immigration group. They obviously have not spoken with the immigration agents in Glenwood Springs to learn that I periodically send them information along with requests to remove criminal immigrants. Along with personal attacks against me and the work they think I am doing, they encouraged me to look at their Web sites, some of which were alarmingly hateful, bordering on white supremacy. Luckily most of these people live outside of the Roaring Fork Valley.I find it hard to believe that some people can live with so much hatred in their hearts. Since their surnames don’t suggest they are Native Americans, they must be descendants of immigrants, right? Perhaps they are merely ignorant of the reasons people leave their loved ones and their homeland. They are drawn here as people have been for centuries – seeking freedom and the opportunity to achieve a better life. They follow the light that beckons: “Give me your tired, your poor …”Marie Munday is the Latino-Anglo liaison at the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
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