Immigration: The Line That Divides Us

High Street Salon takes on the issue of immigration

Rick Rozet’s High Street Salon took on one of the most contentious political issues of the day on Friday night — immigration — offering presentations from a local immigration attorney, three local activists and an undocumented immigrant who shared her experiences of crossing the border and her life in Sonoma County.

The panel sought to clarify immigration issues, expose immigration myths, provide eyewitness accounts of the humanitarian crisis at the border and propose local citizen actions.

“The world is on the move,” warned local activist Margaret Howe, who cited the massive increase of displaced people worldwide (currently 70.8 million), who are refugees, asylum seekers or immigrants.

“We are living in a new era of rethinking borders. It’s time to open the conversation: What do borders mean today?” she said.

An immigration attorney’s view of immigration law

Immigration attorney and Sebastopol resident Christopher Kerosky acknowledged the standing-room-only crowd and said the turnout was proof of the public’s interest in the immigration conversation.

“This is democracy!” he affirmed.

Kerosky has practiced immigration law for over 30 years and is a member of the Sonoma County Human Rights Commission. His presentation focused on the biases in immigration law and the mythology that has developed around the current refugee situation. He wanted to debunk the following myths:

Myth: Our borders are porous, and immigrants enter the U.S. at will.

According to Kerosky, “Today, almost everyone who tries to get into the U.S. illegally is caught. There has been a net decrease in illegal immigration from Mexico over the last 10 years.”

He said the current “mania” about an invasion from Central America and Mexico falls short of the truth, and the numbers trying to cross illegally are about half what they were 10 years ago.

“The apprehensions at the border have dropped from 1.6 million in 2000 to 300,000 in 2017. They’ve gone up a little bit recently because of the crisis in Central America, but it’s still about half of what it was in 2000.”

By Cynthia Albers for SONOMAWEST.COM
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