Let’s talk about immigration today.
As I did with the first three topics, I will intentionally pay close attention to the tone of my words while also keeping honesty and forthrightness at the center. I will also include source links throughout (click on the blue words) for you to fact-check if this is the first time you are hearing this.
Alright, deep breath…
Nation of Immigrants
The simple truth is we are a nation of immigrants. There is no American Story without immigrants.
In fact, saying “America’s Story is that we are a nation of immigrants” would be entirely correct. While we can talk about all kinds of other things that are uniquely American, those things will always be connected to our great immigrant families and individuals.
Immigrants and immigrant families established this country. They have laid the foundation for what is America today, often times taking the hardest jobs available. They built this country up to be what it is today and they continue to move it forward through hard work and progress. They have become America’s finest citizens.
There’s a chance some reading this may assume that when I refer to immigrants, I am talking about non-white families only. You would be wrong. I am talking about all of our families. White, black, yellow, brown, red and everything in between. We are all from immigrant families. The only exception would be the first nation peoples who were here for thousands of years prior to the European settlers.
In my own family, my great grandparents on my dad’s side arrived to the United States at the turn of last century (early 1900s) from Portugal and Greece. On my mom’s side, my great great grandparents arrived here around the mid-1800s from Germany and France; the region they were from had switched hands so many times, some official documents said France and others said Germany. Thanks to my sister’s hard work and research, we can now trace back our my family lineage on both my dad and mom’s side of the family.
For my wife, immigration is much much closer to the present day. Her and her family immigrated to the US in the 1980’s to escape communism and pursue better life conditions and economic opportunity.
We are both proud to come from a family of immigrants.
Immigration under the Trump Administration
At his formal announcement to run for president in June 2015, then candidate Donald Trump gave a clear and startling snapshot of what would become his overarching immigration policy: “The US has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems…And these aren’t the best and the finest.” Trump went on to describe Mexicans, other Latinos and Muslims with crass, demeaning and racially inflammatory language:
“When Mexico sends its people, they are not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs; they’re bringing crime; they’re rapists, and some I assume are good people. But I speak to border guards, and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people. It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably, probably from the Middle East.”
Yes, Trump said this.
While it’s true that immigrants can sometimes be criminals, the general sentiment that Trump left us in his opening presidential run speech is that immigrants are a problem instead of a blessing. His language about being a “dumping ground for everybody else’s problems” was particularly distasteful, if not bordering xenophobic.
While I also understand that having and maintaining an ethical US immigration policy involves a range of complexities and differing assumptions, this should not amount to creating a general climate of hostility toward immigrants and immigration.
To get a more detailed picture, here are President Trump’s Immigration policies and policy actions since taking office in 2017.
Building a Border Wall
One of President Trump’s campaign promises was that he was going to build a wall on the southern border of the United States and make Mexico pay for it. After being elected president, Trump continued to move forward this plan. What many Americans have wondered, and for good reason, is what this wall will symbolize to Americans, to immigrants and to the world about the future of US immigration policy. Will we become more and more a country that is welcoming or unwelcoming to immigrants committed to a path of citizenship?
The Future of Immigration
Since Trump took office, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services removed the phrase “a nation of immigrants” from its mission statement. The hard and undeniable truth is that under President Trump’s administration and leadership, federal agencies may very well move further in a direction that is increasingly hostile to immigrants who desire to make America their country as they pursue citizenship. While this is not a new problem in our country’s history, it is without question one of our worst historical trends in times past.
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