Finding a solution

It is ironic and sad that a country mostly built by immigrants can’t sort out and agree on a rational policy for immigration. The byproduct of the ongoing debate over immigration is disrupted lives, anxious parents and children and long-winded arguments without a glimmer of a solution on the horizon.

Immigration is debated on the national and state levels, but immigration policies have local consequences affecting families in Lynn and communities across the country. Lynn mother of two Cecilia Larios is being held in a Boston jail facing deportation.

Tax dollars are paying for her incarceration even as advocates for Larios’ family and federal immigration authorities are in a standoff over getting her released. Her family said Larios hired an attorney to appeal a decision by immigration officials to deny her asylum.

Larios has lived in the United States for three years. Without asylum status, she must return to Guatemala where her family says she witnessed violence that affected her health. Larios reportedly does not have a criminal history. Her family says she has health problems that will worsen if she remains in jail.

Where does Larios — and, for that matter — the 5,000 El Salvadorans living under federal Temporary Protected Status in Massachusetts fall on the immigration measuring stick?

If people work, pay taxes and do not break the laws of the land, should they be allowed to stay in the United States? If an immigrant is a productive, law-abiding participant in society, why can’t he or she be allowed to stay in the country?

Larios is separated from her husband and two children at a cost to American taxpayers that can be magnified by the total number of immigrants facing deportation. She has lived in this country for years and, according to her family, attempted to follow a legal course aimed at preventing her deportation.

It is hard to believe that it makes more sense for the government to spend money on sending Cecilia Larios and thousands of other Central Americans, in addition to other immigrants, back to their countries of origin instead of providing them a path to citizenship.

It makes more sense to spend money on ensuring any immigrant who wants to live in this country meets two standards: A. They strive to become productive contributors to the economy by working and supporting their families, B. They obey this nation’s laws.

Sending Larios back to Guatemala separates her from her family, assuming they don’t rip themselves out of their lives in the U.S. and accompany her back to her homeland. Deporting Larios also deprives the economy and her community of contributions she makes and her family makes to the betterment of Lynn.

There are sensible ways to come to an agreement on immigration. Americans who have lived here for generations or who are newly arrived can strike a compromise that safeguards the country, puts people to work and leaves intact families like Cecilia Larios’.

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