Illegal Immigration: An Immense Ignorance
By Yorkelis, age 18, Dominican Republic / Florida*
As the presidential election approaches, the news and the media seem to be highlighting the main political concerns, one of them being illegal immigration. This is a topic many American citizens consider taboo because they aren't well informed about it. Misconceptions of a certain topic or subject can often lead to a compromising and embarrassing position which can make others confront you with an awry attitude. It's vital for people in society to be very aware of all topics and take into consideration other beliefs besides their own. The media often manages to feature only one side instead of opposing views. For example, CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight often insinuates how immigration is bad for the United States. The online website freerepublic.com points out how Dobbs' television broadcast should be dealt with:
"Lou Dobbs has become the champion zealot of bashing 'illegal immigration' each night at CNN, promoting HR 4437 as the only way of dealing with 'Broken Borders' to protect the USA. The only way to stop Lou Dobbs, the raving populist xenophobe, is to invoke 'The Achilles heel: AOL.'"
I think that it is only fair when both positive and negative views are put out in the public eye so a person can gain a perspective of their own.
Since it's the 21st century, our expectations of people having a certain level of comprehension and a sense of knowledge is quite high. In my opinion, our expectations surpass the actual level of ignorance in today's society and in government. The United States has always been a land of abundance, a country where people come to seek opportunities and move forward in life. The United States has been a nation made up of immigrants since the beginning. Millions of immigrants have emigrated from Europe to Ellis Island, New York, hoping to live a finer life. Through the decades the U.S. has had several confrontations with foreign policy, one of them being the 1924 Immigration Act, which required immigrants over the age of 16 entering the country to take a literacy test. Another controversial movement was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1888.
In 1986, during Reagan's presidency, the Immigration Reform and Control Act was passed to allow illegal immigrants amnesty in terms of their United States residency. Amnesty, according to theamericanresistance.com, forgives illegal aliens for using false identification for work and driving. The IRCA provided a "blanket" for an average of 2.7 million of illegal immigrants who could prove their residency in the United States from 1982.
Many immigrants living in the United States today are legal because of the IRCA, one of those being my father. My dad emigrated from the Dominican Republic to New York at the very tender age of two, along with his mother and younger sister. My grandmother was a hard working woman trying to raise her children in a better environment and provide them with habiliments she couldn't in the Dominican Republic. We represent millions of other immigrants who come to the United States illegally trying to better themselves, and instead we get judged. And lately this has become more rigorous.
Americans (and even some immigrants) have a certain outlook and very strong opinions about the immigration issue happening today. These opinions often create negative remarks toward illegal aliens. That's because their ignorance doesn't allow them to broaden their opinions and beliefs. On CNN.com a blogger gives his imbecilic opinion on illegal immigration:
"WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!!!! Stop defending these law breaking ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. They are doing no good for our country. Do you know why we can't do without them now? Business owners got real greedy when they discovered that they can hire Mexicans/Cubans and all the other illegals to do the same work that our fathers and grandfathers did, but for far less money. Now Americans don't want those factory jobs, or the dishwashing jobs, or the hotel maid jobs, because illegals will do it for very little money and that's all the employers are willing to pay now. Don't get me wrong. I am all for immigration. Just do it the legal way. Like my grandparents did. Oh, and one other thing. Learn the d*** language."
Posted by Brian, Belleville, IL
What many Americans like Brian don't realize is that in many countries applying for a visa can be a huge challenge. Time and money are immense factors in acquiring a visa. There are four types of visas that provide legal entry for immigrants trying to enter the United States: immediate relatives, special immigrants, family sponsored, and employer sponsored. All of these may take a long period of time to be approved, since there are millions of people waiting in line. Money is also a big obstacle. There is a certain fee for getting a visa and passport. Many people don't have that kind of money or time, and desperate times call for desperate measures. If money wasn't an issue in the first place, I highly doubt that immigrants would leave their countries and live in one where they will be classified as criminals just for wanting to better themselves.
Regarding blogger Brian's remark about coming in the legal way like his ancestors did, assuming his ancestors came to this country back when Ellis Island was still in operation, the situation back then was more open to immigrants. Even so, immigrants have always had a difficult time in this country. The United States is seen as a country with a great diversity of cultural backgrounds, but only those who have lived here can tell how it feels to live under the shadow of discrimination. Newcomers to America: Stories of Today's Young Immigrants by Judith E. Greenberg is an anthology of stories of immigrants from all over the world sharing their experiences coming to "the land of dreams" and their transitions from one culture to another. An excerpt that caught my eye was the story of a Salvadorian immigrant named Enrique.
"I was the third one who was supposed to come here, but because in 1980 a lot was going on in my life that could have made it difficult for me to stay longer - the political situation, the war, the guerrillas - I had a choice of either joining the guerrillas against my government or leaving. The relatives took me to get my visa right away. I was told I was on the hit list of the National Guard. The mayor of the town came to me and said, "You are on the list so you better get the hell out of here and go somewhere else". So I left, and that's the way it happened."
Like Enrique, many other immigrants are put up against a wall and have no other choice but to depart from their mother country the illegal way.
By 2006 immigrants felt they had been kept in the shadows for too long. They felt the need to speak up and let their voices be heard. On May 1st, 2006, immigrants and illegal aliens formed peaceful rallies throughout the United States. Immigrant students and students with immigrant parents walked out of schools, workers didn't go to work, and big companies owned by immigrants and those of Hispanic origin closed their businesses. America got a very small demonstration of what the nation would become without immigrants. During this whole week news channels were bombarded with comments, questions, and most of all ignorance. I recall watching the news, since my family and I were part of the millions of immigrants standing up for the cause, and observing pompous political icons displaying their lack of intelligence.
MAIA (Mothers Against Illegal Aliens) is an organization of women who do not wish that immigrants become a part of the United States, and think immigrants are of no use to the United States. On their website MAIA posted their mission statement that to any civilized person would sound completely absurd and inconsistent:
"The members and volunteers of MAIA have made a commitment to continue to educate and inform all legal citizens of America, since our government and the media are side-stepping the real issues: that our children and our country are at risk of being eliminated!
THEREFORE, it is up to a mother to protect her family, and it is a family's job to protect each other. Members and families of MAIA are NOT only mothers; they are fathers, sisters, brothers and legal citizens of America!
Discover the real threat to America by reading about radical and well-organized 'Hispanic' organizations whose goal is the reconquering of the Southwest. These groups are known as Atzlan, La Raza, LULAC, LaMecha, MALDEF, and others not as well-known."
The real issue in America is that after gaining such a great title as the "Dream Nation", and with so many years having passed since Abraham Lincoln ended slavery and since Kennedy, King, and others ended segregation there still is discrimination and judgment toward a human being just because of their cultural background and differences. I must admit that there have been cases where illegal immigrants have broken the law (other than entering the United States illegally), but there are also a great number of crimes by American born delinquents. The point I am trying to convey is that there will always be demented people who, regardless of their ethnic background, will murder, steal, and rape.
A big concern that Americans have toward legalizing illegal aliens is its effect on the economy. 99% of the time illegal aliens will do jobs that legalized immigrants and American born citizens will refuse to do, and for less than half of the pay. Michael Mandel's Bordering on Absurdity refers to how America's legalizing illegal immigrants is more of a political issue than an economic one. "The political and cultural obstacles are too large, as the latest immigration debate in the U.S. shows. But over time, facilitating the free flow of people is going to be a critical step toward achieving a truly global economy."
"The American Dream" is gradually becoming "The American Nightmare" for the millions of immigrants that inhabit the United States. Fixing the borders will not stop immigrants from coming to the United States, since not all immigrants are native Mexicans. Immigrants from the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia, and Europe will continue to migrate to the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave". As an immigrant I feel like I am often part of a group of outcasts.
Immigrants often dream of becoming an American and their children to be born on American soil. Is this such a bad thing to wish for? It should be more of a compliment to wish to be an American! It's such a hurtful situation to see how hard work doesn't always pay off, especially in a country were everyone is considered to be equal. There is still plenty of hope for this situation to be resolved. In the state of Florida 17.7% of immigrants cannot simply be shipped back to their countries. This is a very unreasonable and unrealistic way to look for a solution. Soon a new government will take office and hopefully new laws will be passed in our favor.
* I am currently residing in the United States.