LatinaLista -- One of the federal government's strategy in combating illegal immigration is to create a "culture of voluntary compliance" among businesses to not hire undocumented workers says Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Gillian Chistensen.
Of course, the voluntary compliance comes with the threat of being severely fined if the government finds out otherwise. As a result of this "voluntary compliance" the good news is less employees are being arrested but more employers are facing jail time.
Though the government is patting itself on the back for an effective way to deal with the issue of illegal immigration, it is creating -- and I don't write this lightly -- a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions.
I didn't realize or could I fully appreciate just how effective our current enforcement policies are against employing undocumented workers until I visited a clinic that counsels victims of domestic violence -- most all of them undocumented.
The day I visited the clinic every seat and bench was occupied with either mothers and their children or whole families, dad included. One group of siblings, the youngest around 5, was squealing over Justin Bieber's picture in the only teen magazine in the waiting room. It was easy to see just how immersed those kids were in American culture.
It reminded me that those who are in favor of anti-immigrant legislation and hold on to the fantasy that undocumented immigrants will voluntarily self-deport en masse back to their native countries are deluding themselves with false hopes. They just have to look at the children.
The US is their home, plain and simple.
Yet, these enforcement policies are taking a toll on the undocumented population. A friend who is a counselor told me she has seen a steady increase in the number of domestic violence cases among undocumented families. She worries constantly for her clients for the day that will keep them from receiving the kind of help they and their kids need to get through the kind of stress that cripples most "soft" Americans.
But it's not only the pressure of not finding work that sends emotions in overdrive for these families, but also not having money to buy food.
Removing the opportunity to work is not sending undocumented families fleeing out of the country but causing them to hunker down and literally make a can of beans last a week.
In states that pride themselves on just how punitive they can make laws against undocumented immigrants, they are legalizing and endorsing the most heinous treatment of mankind -- and for what?
Because it's the law of the land that no one should be in this country without the proper paperwork?
So that justifies the starving and heightened prevalence of emotional stress among undocumented families who have little to no resources to help them and their children?
I have seen firsthand the hunger, fear and desperation among undocumented immigrants who know life is far better on this side of the border than returning to less than nothing south of it.
We are not this kind of nation that we willfully starve children to prove a legal point.
We are not this kind of nation to sit silently while political extremists hijack our legislative system and crush our moral compass.
At a juncture in our history when the United States is being surpassed on the global stage on too many fronts, this is the one area -- humanitarian aid -- where we have always shone.
What a downfall it will be for this country to lose that last bit of international respect when the world realizes that this country -- for all their tough talk and military defense of oppressed peoples -- has no qualms about starving the most vulnerable within its own borders.
What kind of nation are we really?