Recognizing the inherent dignity of undocumented immigrants


Ana López del Punta '23

Southern Republican Governors Mr. Ronald DeSantis and Mr. Gregory Abbott, as well as their supporters, must cease to take advantage of undocumented Hispanic immigrants and learn to respect them.

The unexpected arrival of 150 undocumented Hispanic immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts and the United States Naval Observatory, Washington, District of Columbia (DC) September 14 and 15 startled both local residents and Americans around the nation, according to  Republican Governors Mr. Ronald DeSantis of Florida and Mr. Gregory Abbott of Texas misled these immigrants who crossed the Mexican-American border to believe that they would find work opportunities, housing, and security if they traveled northward.  How could this be, however, if the leaders of Massachusetts and Washington DC did not know that these immigrants were coming?  Although states can legally pay for migrants’ travel, the Republican governors’ actions reveal a disregard for immigrants who seek asylum.  The politicians involved and their supporters need to recognize the human dignity of migrants who seek a better life, rather than using them for political gain.

When immigrants arrive at the Mexican-American border, they can turn themselves in to the United States Border Patrol to request asylum from political, racial, or religious persecution or violence in their native country, according to  These migrants can remain in the United States until their court hearing when a judge determines whether they can legally live in the nation. 

This summer, I volunteered at ARISE Adelante, an organization in the Río Grande Valley, Texas dedicated to empowering the Hispanic border community to promote change for themselves, according to  Many families that work with ARISE had to leave behind their family in order to cross the border, which is incredibly dangerous.  The resilience, empathy, and diligence that I encountered in adults and children alike further attest that undocumented immigrants work incredibly hard to earn a better life. 

The number of unauthorized newcomers, including those who seek asylum and those who remain undocumented, to the United States continues to rise as socioeconomic conflicts in Latin America persist, according to  Mr. DeSantis legally offered free flights to Martha’s Vineyard to 50 recent Venezuelan immigrants, most of whom are in the process of applying for asylum.  He falsely assured them that they would find labor opportunities and housing there because Massachusetts is a Democratic state, according to The New York Times.  Under similar promises, Mr. Abbott sent two buses with 100 Hispanic immigrants from Colombia, Cuba, Guyana, Nicaragua, and Panama to Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in the Naval Observatory, according to The New York Times.  However, Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Abbott did not notify the leaders of Massachusetts and Washington DC that immigrants were arriving imminently.

Families were surprised to arrive at the island of Martha’s Vineyard.  Courtesy of Matt Cosby

The planes that began to land on Martha’s Vineyard, which has no refugee services, troubled many residents.  However, the immigrants themselves, who were not aware of their destination, were also worried.  Although many residents of Martha’s Vineyard want to help these immigrants, they are struggling to support them because the island is a vacation site and there is a scarcity of jobs outside the summer months, according to  Similarly, the immigrants in Ms. Harris’ residence are currently struggling to find housing and work. 

However, this was just the beginning.  Hispanic immigrants continued to arrive at the Naval Observatory the week of October 3, according to that they are far from Texas, all these immigrants might be unable to attend their immigration court hearings, according to The New York Times.  

With midterm elections November 8, Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Abbott endeavor to engross their party members by sending undocumented immigrants to Democratic states.  They seek to call attention to the soaring number of Hispanics who have been crossing the Mexican-American border illegally during the Biden administration.  What is most troublesome and alarming is the number of Americans who support the governors’ political tactic for votes.

Many southerners to whom Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Abbott appeal in this respect believe that immigrants impair the United States’ welfare, educational, and health systems, according to The New York Times.  In reality, however, the majority of undocumented immigrants do not utilize these services due to ineligibility or fear of deportation, according to

Some against immigration also claim that newcomers harm the American economy.  Conversely, unauthorized Mexicans paid $9.8 billion in taxes in 2019, even though they often do not receive the benefits for which they pay.  That same year, almost 97 percent of undocumented Mexicans held jobs, stimulating the economy, according to

Many Republicans worry about the exponential growth of unauthorized immigrants in the United States since President Mr. Joseph Biden came into office January 2021.  Ana López del Punta ’23

Regardless of the beneficial economic impact of immigrants, data should not determine the treatment of people.  Indeed, supporters of Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Abbott’s actions must transcend political divisions and acknowledge the dignity of unauthorized immigrants.  These newcomers are fleeing poverty, violence, or social and political instability in pursuit of safety, education, and hope for future generations.  As a meritocracy, the United States should offer them the opportunity to lead a better life.  The use of migrants as a commodity must stop.

Unauthorized immigrants deserve respect due to their determination to provide for themselves and their families despite the hardships and hostility they encounter in their native country and in the United States.  Therefore, Mr. DeSantis, Mr. Abbott, and their supporters must rid themselves of their prejudice against Hispanic people to cease using them as a political ploy and recognize their inherent dignity.   

Featured Image by Ana López del Punta ’23