Two countries, one is the oldest functioning democracy and the other the largest democracy. One , where I am a naturalized citizen now and the other, my country of birth. At this time of my life I have lived nearly half of my life in each country. Both of them are currently embroiled in the question of immigration.
When I left my country of birth, my home state was undergoing nearly six years of protests and agitations to expel the illegal immigrants from a neighboring country that was threatening to change the demography of the state. Couple of weeks after I left, an accord was signed between the Prime Minister of the country and the agitating student leaders with an agreement to identify and expel immigrants after a certain date. This date automatically legitimized people who were illegally coming into the country for more than twenty years after the first National Register of Citizens was prepared. When I arrived in the country that would ultimately be my home, I found that the same issue of illegal immigration was being debated here also. After nearly a year of my being here, the President of the country signed a sweeping immigration reform bill granting amnesty to nearly three million immigrants who were in the country without proper immigration papers.
Both the accord and the amnesty were supposed to take care of “illegal” immigration for all time to come. Little that we knew at that time that after nearly three decades the same issue would be disturbing the places that I called home. We never factored in the politicians and their lack of will to solve burning issues or their willingness to push issues to the next generation for political benefits in the short term.
Now in my country of birth, current Prime Minister and the ruling party is pushing a citizenship amendment bill (CAB) to make all people of certain religious communities coming into the country from three specific countries citizens immediately. This is being done with an eye to the elections to be held soon this year though the government is trying its best to hide its purpose behind the veil of religious persecution of minorities in those three countries. Unfortunately the government had not raised the issue of religious persecution of a certain community in one of the neighboring country at all in last five years in the UN. My home state of birth is in turmoil now after three decades of the accord being signed for fear that the indigenous people will be reduced to minority if the CAB is passed and made the law of the land. This is after more than eight hundred and fifty people had laid down their lives for the cause at the hands of their own country’s police and armed forces. On the other hand, President of the country I call home now has vowed to build a wall to keep immigrants out ( and as per his words to make the country safe) and shutdown the government partially to get his wall built. Though there is no proof that a wall is a viable solution to keep people away who are desperate to make their lives better or a wall will keep people in the country safe (all the 9/11 perpetrators entered the country legally and were from a friendly country), playing to the emotion and fear of his political base the President has made a mess of the whole immigration issue.
Will the Citizenship Amendment Bill in my country of birth or the wall in the country I call home now solve the issue of immigration for all time to come. Hardly. If without addressing the root cause of immigration (which may be a topic of future discussion), political expediency is allowed to shape decisions, we will see a repetition of the issue soon.
Unfortunately in a democracy people get the government they deserve.