OPINION | We should have open borders in the south

Photo by Creative Commons

Photo by Creative Commons

Ankush Vyas, Online Editor

A number of immigration issues have surfaced during President Donald Trump’s presidency. Many of these issues–such as border security, the construction of a wall on the southern border, detainment, deportation of undocumented immigrants and family separation at the U.S. border–are issues relating primarily to immigrants coming from the U.S.-Mexico border. However, these same issues do not extend to the U.S.-Canada border as the U.S.-Canada border is regulated differently than the U.S.-Mexico border. 

While Canadian citizens are not required to possess a visa to enter the United States,  Mexican immigrants are. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Canadian citizens only require a valid Canadian passport or another form of identification, such as an enhanced driver’s license or enhanced identification card, to legally visit for up to 180 days. Canadian citizens do require a visa if they plan to study, work, invest or immigrate. 

Because they can visit the United States, Canadian citizens are more familiar with American culture and the opportunities available, making it easier for Canadians to assimilate. More importantly, they are able to build a social network of safety nets, plan out their living requirements and gain access to work institutions without having to deal with immigration issues in their future.

On the other hand, Mexican citizens coming from the U.S.-Mexico border are required to have a visa to enter the United States, even for leisure purposes. The United States issues visas on a case-by-case basis, where every individual is profiled and has a greater chance of having their visa denied. Meanwhile, Canadians aren’t bound by visa requirements such as obtaining a B-1 tourist visa. Unlike Canadian citizens, the Mexican citizens who seek safety or asylum have to worry about crossing borders, the possibility of being killed at the border or separated from their families and losing their children. Ultimately, if Mexican citizens were allowed to visit the United States in the same manner as Canadian citizens, families wouldn’t be separated at such staggering rates.

It’s time to open borders in the south to visitors. Every person who enters the United States from the southern border would have a public and documented record that can help the government track those who overstay in the United States. If this is done, no one coming from the U.S.-Mexico border could be killed or separated from their families and children. Of less importance, more tourists would boost the U.S. economy and expose Mexicans and Central Americans to U.S. culture. More tourism will lead to the advancement of communication and a better understanding between the United States and Mexico, subsequently reducing tensions between the two countries. 

Against that view, many argue that Mexicans will invade the country, bringing drugs and crime with them.  In his presidential announcement speech on June 16, 2015, Trump accused Mexican citizens of “bringing drugs” and “crime” into the United States, and topped it off by calling Mexicans “rapists.” But there is no concrete evidence that suggests immigrants are more likely to commit a crime. Acting upon concerns rather than concrete evidence is just irrational and inspires societal division. 

If the United States’ concern is that it will destroy itself, then I believe such concern is misplaced. Currently, The European Union has open border policies that allow 27 countries to openly share borders among themselves for positive sociopolitical and economic relations. If the 27 countries that are part of the European Union can agree on open border policies, the United States can do the same with Mexico and potentially Central America. An open border will stop the meaningless persecution and killing of migrants and the separation of families.