Mis­guided de­por­ta­tion pol­icy

Jamaica Gleaner - - IN FOCUS - Orville Tay­lor

OK, SO THE Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment has tem­po­rar­ily sus­pended the de­por­ta­tion of guns to Ja­maica be­cause, I sus­pect, of the rev­e­la­tions from the Firearms Li­cens­ing Au­thor­ity (FLA) that there have been se­ri­ous ac­count­abil­ity gaps in the is­su­ing of firearms.

Of course, I’m once again an­noyed that it has been done in a puni­tive way af­ter it was in­ter­nal checks by our lo­cal Ja­maican au­thor­i­ties that re­vealed the flaws. More­over, as in­di­cated in last week’s col­umn, fewer than 10 per cent of legally bought firearms that dis­ap­pear in the USA are ever found. Thus, while it is ap­pre­ci­ated that the Amer­i­cans are help­ing us to stem the tide on the re­ceiv­ing side it is so hard to un­der­stand why firearm and se­cu­rity in­ter­ests in that coun­try are not recog­nis­ing the impact their own lax­ity in firearm trad­ing over­sight has on crime in the USA and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

But that is an­other type of de­por­ta­tion. It is the planned ‘ex­pa­tri­a­tion’ of mil­lions of il­le­gal im­mi­grants, a plat­form for the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump as pres­i­dent, which has once again pointed to the need for so­ci­ol­o­gists, so­cial work­ers, and psy­chol­o­gists to guide Amer­i­can for­eign pol­icy.

Thir­teen years ago when the last Repub­li­can pres­i­dent was bent on go­ing into ‘I-Rak’ in search of non-ex­is­tent weapons of mass dis­trac­tion, I, along with a group of black so­ci­ol­o­gists and econ­o­mists, lamented the folly in think­ing that one could bomb peo­ple who are not

afraid to die and make them sub­mit. ‘Bomb­ing the ‘sh**’ out of sus­pected ter­ror­ists is only us­ing the mid­dle part of one’s ini­tia­tive and will most likely blow back into one’s face when it hits the fan.

Re­mem­ber here in The Gleaner on Sun­day, Novem­ber 20, 2016, I am warn­ing again: If there is any mass round­ing up and de­por­ta­tion of in­doc­u­men­ta­dos, there is go­ing to be a spike in so­cial violence in the USA and an un­mit­i­gated expansion of ex­treme ter­ror­ist groups, in­clud­ing gangs whose mem­bers can barely spell Qur’an,

much less know any­thing about Islam.

The re­cent protests since Trump won are only the tip of the ice­berg, and even so, those per­sons who are brave enough to come out with plac­ards are not the likely ones to be carted off like yes­ter­day’s news­pa­per.

Ig­no­rance is a won­der­ful in­struc­tor, but a lux­ury that se­ri­ous pol­i­cy­mak­ers can­not af­ford. True, there are around 11 mil­lion il­le­gal im­mi­grants in the USA, and Mex­i­cans are ap­prox­i­mately half of those. How­ever, there has been a con­sis­tent de­cline in il­le­gal Mex­i­can

im­mi­grants since Barack Obama be­came pres­i­dent. Yup, from around 6.4 mil­lion in 2009, the last es­ti­mates were around 5.6 mil­lion a year ago.

On the other hand, an amount equiv­a­lent to one per cent of the Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion has been added from other coun­tries apart from Mex­ico. So, in con­struct­ing a wall to solve a diminishing prob­lem, Trump will not only build a bar­rier, but also un­nec­es­sary strife.

For the record, given that more than 30 ‘white’ coun­tries have no visa re­quire­ment, it is not sur­pris­ing that there are around 430 mil­lion Euro­peans liv­ing un­der the Amer­i­can radar, which is al­most twice that from the Caribbean.

How­ever, there are some ir­refutable facts. Un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants can­not all be re­moved, and most of them helped ‘make Amer­ica great’ in the first place. Fur­ther­more, il­le­gal im­mi­grants are not like neutered feral cats in a na­tive pop­u­la­tion. On the contrary, it is not only the con­tempt, which their fa­mil­iar­ity breeds, and most un­doc­u­mented res­i­dents in the USA are part of fam­i­lies and play­ing crit­i­cal bread­win­ning and so­cial­i­sa­tion roles.

Just 20 years ago, only two per cent of kinder­garten chil­dren had an il­le­gal im­mi­grant par­ent. To­day, the num­ber is around eight per cent and is likely to reach 10 per cent by the time Trump gets to take off his train­ing wheels.

So don’t do the maths; do the so­ci­ol­ogy. In Amer­ica, un­like the An­glo­phone Caribbean, a larger per­cent­age of black house­holds are fe­male-headed. More­over, there is co­pi­ous lit­er­a­ture that points to the so­cial patholo­gies, in­clud­ing gang mem­ber­ship and homi­ci­dal be­hav­iour among chil­dren whose par­ents, whether male or fe­male, are re­moved from their lives.

In­deed, some of my own col­leagues here at the Univer­sity of the West In­dies have demon­strated how par­ents who are not free to travel but who live in ‘for­eign’ can con­trib­ute to neg­a­tive be­hav­iours in their ‘bar­rel chil­dren’. Imag­ine where the par­ents are de­ported and those Amer­i­can kids wan­der like sheep un­til their wolf cloth­ing emerges. Worse, with the re­moval of au­to­matic birth right, Amer­i­can-born chil­dren of il­le­gals could end up be­ing de­ported to coun­tries to which they have never been.

The pro­fessed mass-de­por­ta­tion pol­icy elic­its a four-let­ter word start­ing with F and an­other dirty word with the same num­ber of let­ters: ‘fear’ and ‘ISIS’. There are at least 1,000 Amer­i­can teens who the FBI be­lieves have been ac­tively re­cruited by ISIS. Contrary to the stereo­type of the Is­lamic ex­trem­ist who holds the Qur’an in one hand and an AK-47 in the other, the typ­i­cal re­cruit for ISIS is a dis­af­fected youth whose link with the firm arms of fam­ily and sec­ondary so­cial­i­sa­tion is ex­tremely weak.

In fact, he knows very lit­tle about the tenets of the Is­lamic faith or how to prop­erly re­vert to Islam. This weak-minded in­di­vid­ual, who is not un­e­d­u­cated, is likely to have ben­e­fited from West­ern ed­u­ca­tion and un­der­stands its val­ues but doesn’t feel at home in his so­ci­ety.

Now this oc­curs when the par­ents live in the coun­try. Gam­ble on what hap­pens when Daddy and Mama are de­ported.

Trump may build his wall, but if he is blind enough to de­port peo­ple loyal to Amer­ica and who have built their fam­i­lies there, imag­ine the back­lash. Worse, not only will the Amer­i­can chil­dren be in danger, but he must know that from The Ba­hamas to Guyana, the fence can be no defence. More than ever, he needs peo­ple from this Caribbean Basin on his side.

Dr Orville Tay­lor, se­nior lec­turer in so­ci­ol­ogy at the UWI and a ra­dio talk-show host, is the au­thor of ‘Bro­ken Prom­ises, Hearts and Pock­ets’. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­erjm.com and tay­loron­black­line@hot­mail.com.


Bag in hand and face cov­ered, one of the 42 Ja­maicans de­ported by the United King­dom gov­ern­ment ex­its the gates of the Mo­bile Re­serve head­quar­ters in St Andrew on Septem­ber 7 af­ter be­ing pro­cessed by the po­lice. CLIMB­ING NUM­BERS

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