U.S. immigration’s road to nowhere

By Loquitur Editorial Board
November 29, 2022

Pro-Immigration rally
Protest in support of migrants. Photo by LWPrencipe from Creative Commons.

Nearly two months after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sent Venezuelan and Columbian migrants and asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts without any prior accommodations, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continues the Trump handbook.

Multiple buses carrying migrants from Texas were sent to Philadelphia without any warning. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, city officials and immigrant aid groups were not told the buses were coming, or that promises that were made to the migrants to convince them to come here. 

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that in October, 230,678 migrants were met at the southwest land border, adding to 2.37 million border encounters in 2022 (surpassing the 1.73 million total in 2021). The mass numbers of Latino migrants encountering the border are seemingly not met with logical solutions or policies from bordering states, such as Texas. Vulnerable people are not objects politicians can dump onto others for political gain if they have no sustainable plan of action.

Cities including Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Chicago, and New York City are sanctuary or welcoming cities. The City of Philadelphia avoids the term sanctuary city and calls itself a welcoming city. Philadelphia uses no concrete definition of the term, but says, “We do not allow our city employees, including police officers, to ask about the documentation status of people they encounter.” 

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that all the migrants recently sent to the city, many seeking asylum, are allowed to be in the United States. Asylum seekers may stay in the U.S. as long as they work with federal immigration court to be granted asylum. 

Sanctuary cities for asylum seekers

The Center for Immigration Studies shows a map of sanctuary cities across the nation. According to the website, these cities, counties, and states providing immigrants with shelter have laws and regulations that prevent ICE from interfering with immigration enforcement and removal. 

If immigrants are not sent to sanctuary cities, they can be sent to detention centers, such as Berks County Detention Center in Leesport, Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, PICC, started the Shut Down Berks campaign in 2015 to combat the incarceration of immigrants and to seek the institution’s closure.

Rather than treating immigrants as political sheep to be herded to varying locations, we need to care for and take into account migrants’ trauma and fear as they arrive in the United States. Sending people to Democratic cities deemed sanctuary cities for a cruel joke and to flex political power cannot be tolerated when lives are at stake.  

Pennsylvania’s future governor 

Recently elected Governor of Pennsylvania Josh Shapiro is on a mission to alleviate this ongoing issue. In a statement to AL DÍA, Shapiro targeted the immigration system and its flaws. 

“We need comprehensive immigration reform coming out of Washington. It’s one of the few required actions of our federal elected officials, and yet they have failed in doing so over multiple administrations,” Shapiro said. Immigration reform is needed in times like this and Shapiro proclaimed that he will advocate for it as governor.

Having solid reform in place will assist with immigrants’ well-being and security. The United States needs a sustainable plan to foster the overwhelming number of migrants arriving at the border. We must also examine inefficiencies in the use of resources. Rather than shuttling migrants to other cities with no warning, states can work together with the federal government to establish routes of travel, drop people at specific places, and alleviate a concentration of migrants.

We need community now

In July 2022, Philadelphia welcomed over 10,000 Ukrainians and they were sponsored immediately. The different communities in Philadelphia came together to provide food and shelter as part of the Uniting for Ukraine program. Where is that same energy for the migrants from Texas?

Understandably, Philadelphia was not prepared for these Latino migrants; there was no cooperation from Texas officials. The city stated they have been preparing for surprise buses since this past summer, so why wasn’t the welcome as warm? 

To donate and help the migrants from Texas, the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia have launched the Philadelphia Welcoming Fund

Greg Abbott tweeted on Nov. 28, “Texas has bussed over 13,500 migrants to sanctuary cities,” and Philadelphia was included in the list. There is still no way of knowing how many more buses can be expected, but local advocates and Philadelphia’s welcoming community are waiting with open arms.

Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini is our school’s namesake and symbolic figure. She is revered for her work in helping immigrants in the United States. As social justice school, we lead by Mother Cabrini’s example. 

Although immigration policy is controversial, we still need cooperation, empathy, and compassion. These are people, not objects. 


The Loquitur Editors 

The Center on Immigration invites students, faculty, and staff to a vigil hosted by the Shut Down Berks Coalition on Dec. 7 at 10 a.m. at the Berks Detention Center. The Center on Immigration is a member of the coalition and stands in solidarity with immigrant women who have been unfairly detained and sent to detention centers. Transportation from Cabrini will be provided. 

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