The Biggest Reason We Need Comprehensive Immigration Reform? Saving lives from human smugglers.

A glance at any major news site in the last year, and especially in the last few weeks, and it is impossible not to notice the massive migration of immigrants around the world of a historical magnitude. With the tremendous influx of refugees into Europe from war torn and impoverished regions of Africa, Syria, Afghanistan and other areas of the Middle East, coupled with the continued stream of immigrants from Central and South America into the United States, the vast shift of populations is now impossible to ignore. CNN reported today that US government officials are seeing an unexpected “uptick” in border crossings into the United States in recent weeks, most likely fueled by misrepresented news that the United States would be taking in additional refugees. This is raising concerns that many more migrants may be heading into the US through Mexico. When fleeing poverty and crime and war, semantics and conditions of the US accepting new refugees get ignored by desperate people trying to create a better life for themselves and their families and children. Smugglers have a field day misrepresenting the news to individuals who would love to come to the United States or Europe.

While the United States has been wrestling with immigration reform and illegal border crossings for decades, the major 2014 spike of unaccompanied minors from Central and South America raised increased visibility about the problem, and highlighted the fact border security remains a debatable issue. The news today of a spike in southern border crossings in recent weeks continues to keep immigration reform and border control front and center in the US, particularly as we enter the frenzied circus of another presidential election season. But what is fairly new, is that now the European Union is dealing with massive refugee immigration through its southern borders. Immigration policies relating to refugees and undocumented immigrants are no longer just a United States issue.. they are now turning into a global issue. Unfortunately, just as the United States has been unable to reach an effective and workable policy on border security and immigration reform as it pertains to the rights of refugees and undocumented immigrants, now Europe is unable to forge a uniform workable policy towards its refugee immigrants. In fact, the refugee crisis, and lack of cohesive approach, is creating diplomatic rows not seen in decades. Without dialogue and resolution, its not unforeseeable to think this new immigration crisis could lead to the ultimate dissolution of the EU, especially as border closings between EU countries are now being implemented with regularity in the past few weeks.

The border crisis in both the United States and European Union illustrate the glaring need for, and importance of, comprehensive and humane immigration policies and reform as to the issue of refugees and other undocumented immigrants arriving from impoverished and war torn areas. But ultimately, the lack of immigration policy and reform, and “political football” that results, causes tens of thousands of needless deaths at the hands of migrant smuggling. In an article a couple of weeks ago, the New York Times reported how migrant smuggling in Europe is now an “industry” measured in the billions of dollars, exceeding illegal arms and drug smuggling. Criminal gangs and organizations capitalize on chaotic government responses to immigrant inflows, and the desperation of the immigrants themselves, at the cost of countless lives. All government inaction has done, is create a well-oiled criminal pipeline of human smuggling that brings in MORE immigrants, not less. And these organizations are responsible for the senseless deaths of numerous children as well as adults. The news stories these days are replete with emotionally revolting photographs of immigrants who have died at the hands of human smugglers. As a father of six wonderful children, seeing pictures of dead immigrant toddlers who are victims of human smugglers, drives me to tears.

There are no easy answers to the historical migrant flows that are now facing the United States and Europe. But the United States and Europe, as well as other wealthy countries of the world, must unify together to immediately create workable immigration reform and policies. Certainly enhanced border security is part of this effort, but so is a recognition that refugees and undocumented immigrants must be treated humanely and with recognition of the desperation that drives most of them to flee for better opportunities. The failure of governments worldwide to adequately address changing immigration patterns and policies, is a human smuggler’s best dream come true. Tens of thousands of lives can be saved from these human smugglers through the implementation of workable immigration solutions. Will our governments have the courage to value these lives more than the continued cowardly political convenience of inaction?