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The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

Immigration mindset outdated, needs reform

art by Yasmeen El-Jayyousi
art by Yasmeen El-Jayyousi
art by Yasmeen El-Jayyousi

When discussing the issue of immigration, it is fairly common to hear an argument spring up comparing America to a house; if someone enters a house, wouldn’t the owners want them out? In other words, if “illegals” enter this country, why not kick them out?

But the issue is much more complicated than that; 20 million immigrants crossed the Mexican American border unlawfully. A very likely Republican candidate for President in 2016, Jeb Bush, recently said that unauthorized immigration should be classified as an “act of love” rather than a felony.

If parents wish to escape a bad situation to help their kids grow in a secure environment, and along the way they crossed a border, it is an act of love. It shows that the parents would go through anything to help their children grow and have a chance in life in their older ages.

All humans are legal. If we decide to break a law, we are not classified as “illegals,” but rather we have committed a crime. People never hear the phrase illegal murderer or illegal rapist. What is the logic behind the terms illegal immigrant and illegal alien?

No matter what is said, they will always be humans. Because of the way the media portrays them, It feels like there is a sense of fear among some Americans when the topic of a discussion changes to undocumented immigrants. For example, Bill O’Reilly, a talk show host on Fox News, once discussed an issue of an undocumented person in New England who went drunk driving and killed a girl after a horrific accident. O’Reilly tried to connect the fact that the killer was here illegally and the killing that took place; all he managed to do was make his viewers scared about the fact that there are millions of undocumented people in America.

Fear comes from ignorance. Most Americans don’t have the slightest idea about what unauthorized immigrants go through on a day-to-day basis. They live in a fear of deportation, a fear that though the father or mother is not “legal” and their children are, the children could still be deported. Statistically, the prison rate of unauthorized immigrants compared to citizens is insufficient for the number to even matter, so the fact that O’Reilly tried to connect conviction rates with legality is absurd.

According the the Applied Research Center, if immigration laws don’t change, more than 15,000 more children will be separated from their families in the next five years. A child could go to school one day and return home to find his or her guardians gone, already back in their country of origin.

Few options exist for these kids. They can either live with family friends, live on their own, enter the foster care system or go to a country they never lived in before to live with their families, even if they are the same citizenship status as any other person born in America. These children face problems because of stereotypes stamped onto unauthorized immigrants. It is a fact that racial stereotypes are one of many reasons that lead to anti-immigration policies.

It is not, strange that the ongoing anti-immigration sentiment against brown-skinned people in the south is happening. Just more than six decades ago, the Supreme Court repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which existed for 60 years. From 1882 till 1943, it was illegal for Chinese immigrants to work in the United States because of a stereotype that they were stealing all the gold from Americans.

During the California Gold Rush from 1848-1855, many Chinese immigrants came to America to join in on collecting the wealth, and they were tolerated, and in some instances welcomed. Once more and more people entered into the race for gold, the commodity became harder and harder to find, and the blame immediately fell on the defenceless, the Chinese immigrants.

After being kicked from work,  the Chinese minority moved to large cities and took low paying jobs. California passed multiple laws to try to ban Chinese immigrants from entering the state or from working, but most were found unconstitutional by the state supreme court, until the federal government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which took too long to be repealed.

In this country’s history, there were many times when Congress or a percentage of the United States population had a hatred toward certain types of people because of some preconceived notions about them. Even before the anti-Chinese movement early in the last century, there was an anti-French immigrant movement that started a couple decades after this great nation burst into life. Four bills, called the Alien and Sedition Acts, became law in 1798. They tried to make it more difficult for French immigrants, who were running away from an anarchist revolution in France, to become citizens. A large cliché existed, which portrayed the French immigrants as people who spread anarchist views.

The act increased the required residency time to become a citizen from five years to 14 years, and in the process gave the President the ability to deport or imprison any immigrants considered “dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States.” Another part of the law decreased the freedom of speech given to immigrants in comparison to citizens.

History is here so we learn from our mistakes. These are just two laws passed out of many to target specific ethnic groups from coming to the United States, and as Americans see them today, they were dark patches in the history of this nation.

Why don’t Americans think of the undocumented immigrants living in this country today like the French who came to this country 200 years ago to escape prosecution from the French Revolution, or like the Chinese immigrants who came 150 years ago to escape economic hardships in China, or like the Japanese immigrants who came to America to escape hardships they faced, or like any ethnic group that entered this country to find freedom but instead found racism and segregation?

The best way to solve this situation is to give a certain degree of amnesty to undocumented immigrants, thus forcing employers to pay minimum wage, which would reduce competition from American workers. While doing so, the government should strengthen the border while making immigration easier. As Senator Marco Rubio said,  emigration is a very complicated process, and it takes upwards of 20 years of waiting for a Mexican to enter America legally. That must change.

We can always contact our federal representatives in the Senate and in the House and urge them to rethink the way they deal with unauthorized immigrants. A great bill already passed the Senate, but due to the circumstances in the House, it is very unlikely to pass to the President, unless if we as Americans step up and advocate for change.

Americans should be better than their past. We should rise up and prove that our generation is better than those that came before, and we should be more accommodating towards this generation’s immigrants, because every generation had immigrants, and every generation will have immigrants, because this is America.

By Abdul-Rahman Abul-Kafi

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