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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Immigration debate should be focusing on human element

    Illegal immigration, while perhaps not the hot button issue it once was in the days of SB 1070’s drafting, is still a polarizing topic. It brings out perhaps the worst in our political discourse.

    This Sunday an illegal immigrant died while crossing through the hot Arizona desert. When Border Patrol agents found him and his cousin, he was unconscious. Their intentions for crossing the border were unclear, but ultimately they don’t matter. What matters is that a man died in incredible heat and although he was an illegal immigrant, Border Patrol agents still came to his aid and the aid of his cousin, although the cousin did not require medical attention. The man was airlifted to a nearby hospital, but died.

    In an unrelated incident, agents in Casa Grande saved a woman and a man, both in their late 30s. They were suffering from dehydration and severe heat exposure. Again, it doesn’t matter that they were illegal immigrants, it matters that they were human beings. Although things like this happen seemingly everyday in border states, they still deserve our attention. There’s still a lesson to be learned here.

    The immigration issue is so very sensitive that it causes schisms across America and incites highly passionate emotional responses. But it’s vital that we don’t get overly caught up in the topic and forget that we’re talking about human lives here. There’s no debating that fact.

    Those who are staunchly against illegal immigration are labeled as racists with distaste for the Latino population. Those who are supportive of an easier path to citizenship for immigrants are “soft on immigration” and are otherwise regarded as sympathizers to law-breaking individuals. What gets lost in the hoopla is that we’re not dealing with some form of alien species, we’re dealing with real human beings, flesh and bone.

    As both sides spin the topic of immigration in their light, they miss the humans involved. Yes, those adamantly opposed to immigration cite either drug trafficking or mysterious job losses in the U.S. as the burdens of illegal immigration. Meanwhile, the other side of the argument is that these are people who are in search of a better life and in pursuit of their own American Dream — no different than any of our ancestors. Regardless, they’re human beings all the same and that’s something we often forget while we’re passionately locking horns with counter arguments.

    It does not matter what your ethnicity, heritage or citizenship may be, nobody deserves to die. The response Border Patrol agents provided is truly remarkable. Even they understand that we’re dealing with people, even though we sometimes forget that humanity is at the very center of the immigration debate.

    — Storm Byrd is the Perspectives editor. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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