The Melting Pot of America

BY MATEO SANTIAGO

The United States of America is a nation of immigrants. However, not everyone accepts each other. Some citizens claim that this is their land and people arriving either legally or illegally after them should not be here.

Since 1986, the Department of Homeland Security has been trying to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country, but it has not been successful. Nowadays, there are 11 million illegal aliens in the U.S. Both the past and present U.S. immigration policy does not control illegal immigrants from crossing the border or legalize millions who are living illegally in the country.

In 1986, Congress took a serious step to stop illegal immigrants from entering the country, choosing to pass the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). This act provided reprieve to illegal aliens that met the requirements, such as proof of living and working continually in the United States since 1982. The second part of the act was to penalize employers who hired any illegal aliens.

The IRCA was created to legalize the immigrants, but also to stop those who would try to enter the U.S. illegally. IRCA was not enough to control illegals entering the country. According to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, about 200,000 to 300,000 immigrants were illegally entering the country annually. There are several reasons people immigrate to America and, for the majority of these illegal immigrants, the U.S. is the only way to reach their dreams.

Ten years later, for illegal immigrants nothing was getting easier. Once again, immigration laws would try to stop illegal migrants from entering the country. In “1996 Another [sic] recession and economic tension lead to the enactment of the Illegal Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which toughens border enforcement and made it more difficult to gain asylum” (Benson, Matuszak, and O’Meara 11).

During Bill Clinton’s presidency he created a policy called Operation Gatekeeper, its tagline: “We must not tolerate illegal immigration” (qtd. in Akers 128). For a second time, new strategies to stop illegal immigrants entering the country was created.

The Operation Gatekeeper policy created more Border Patrols, miles of fences to block the border, and a number of strategies to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing over to the U.S. The Gatekeeper policy, as other policies previous, was a failure. The only effect it made was forcing immigrants to cross on rough land and causing death. Illegal immigrants crossing an unknown land exposed their lives to high risk. Operation Gatekeeper, as the IRCA in 1986, was not enough to stop illegal immigrants to cross the border illegally.

After numbers of policies to stop immigrants from entering the country illegally, the United States of America is trying to find a way to legalize those that are already in the country. However, they are also looking to secure the border to prevent more illegals from crossing over. 

In 2012, there was a big impact of Latinos in the elections: “Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote” (“Immigration”). As a result, the U.S. Senate started to work to legalize the immigrants that are in the country at the very beginning of 2013.

For the third time, new systems will be created to stop people who would try to cross the border illegally. People who are in the country would get the opportunity to legalize their immigration status, but there are a number of requirements in order to qualify. “Applicants would have to have arrived before Jan. 1, 2012, pay a $1,000 fine along with federal back taxes, learn English pass criminal background  check and remain employed” (“Immigration”).

The United States of America, started to have concern about the overwhelming number of illegal immigrants crossing the border illegally since 1986; therefore, the Illegal Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act policy was created. The policy was created to secure the border, but also to legalize immigrants. By 1996, a new policy called Illegal Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act was introduced. This policy made it harder for illegal immigrants to obtain asylum, and also obligated illegal immigrants to cross mountains and deserts where the temperature is high during the day and low at night.

At the beginning of 2013, a new proposal was introduced to legalize the millions of illegal immigrants that are currently living in the country. There would be several requirements that will be presented by applicants. Illegal immigrants, who would be able to have all of the requirements, would also have the opportunity to get citizenship in the future.

For the millions of immigrants who cross our borders, there are millions of stories. During their journey illegals can be kidnapped or lose their lives while crossing the border. Once immigrants make a successful trip, they face additional barriers such as learning a new language, new laws, and new customs. Illegal immigrants are always at risk of getting trapped at any time and deported by U.S. Immigration. It is unfair that illegal immigrants do not have the same opportunity, protection, and freedom as everyone else.

The illegal immigrants currently living in the United States of America don’t have the same opportunity as a U.S. citizen. The most recent and controversial issue about U.S. Immigration policy is the numbers of families that are getting separated because they are illegal.

Before an immigrant is deported, he serves a sentence in jail for entering the country illegally. If both parents are detained, their children’s grades drop or they stop attending school entirely. “These children are also three times more likely to be involved in antisocial behavior such as violence or drug abuse” (Sullivan).

Parents and children that are getting separated by U.S. Immigration policy have been increasing. “In the past two years, more than 200,000 deportees reported having U.S.-born children” (Hendrix). Their children are forced to stay in the country because they were U.S. born, but also because their parents are in the immigration detention. Joseacute Serrano a journalist said, “I have to express my profound disgust with a system that has left more than 5,000 citizen children in foster care because their parents were deported. These policies are un-American and deeply troubling.”

The heartbreaking part of the separation of parents and their children by U.S. Immigration is that it takes months or even years to be able to see each other again. “In one case, doctors treated an 8-month-old baby, Keylyn Zusana Lopez Ayala, for pneumonia and possible dehydration after her mother was detained and unable to breast-feed her. Keylyn is an American citizen”(“Hypocrisy on Immigration”).

Several states have created their own law to deal with illegal immigrants such as police officers participating in immigration enforcement, thereby increasing the percentage of families getting separated. By not having a visa, a green card or some type of legal status, illegal immigrants are at risk to get separated from their family at any time. If the U.S. Immigration continues to separate families, the number of children in foster care will increase. Joseacute Serrano’s describes the most recent research done in regard to this subject: “At least 5100 children currently living in foster care whose parents have been either detained or deported.” This congressman also believes that: “An immigration policy that separates children from their parents is inhumane and un-American… Keeping families united is a basic human right, and a fundamental principle in our nation” (Serrano). Giving illegal immigrants the opportunity to legalize their status would keep thousands, if not millions, of families united.

The tragedy occurred in September 11, 2001 has made it tougher for immigrant students to get support for education; the man who flew the airplane into the World Trade Center was an international student. “Some have even argued that, had more laws been in place to restrict the education services immigrants receive in the United Sates, the tragic event on September 11 could have been avoided” (Ramos and Johnson). 

Denying financial help for immigrant students is not something new. “During the Ronald Reagan administration on the 1980s, however, public institutions-like universities- continue to inhibit access to education by requiring immigrants to verify their status in order to receive federal financial aid” (Ramos and Johnson). In addition, students without status pay higher tuition than a U.S. citizen student.

Legalizing immigrant students will give them the opportunity to become more educated, therefore, providing them the chance to jobs.  With a career, immigrant students could make a contribution to the U.S. society which in turn can raise the economy from the slump it has fallen into. A decent income can provide the chance for extra spending which, in turn, will feed back into the United States economy.

Illegal immigrants who work on farms, construction, and maintenance are also in need of documentation so they can have same rights as everyone else. Often they are exploited by their employers, but they are scared to call the authorities because they could be asked for proof of legal status. Illegal immigrants that work on these areas are often not treated well, work in poor workplace condition, and work long hours, and have low wages.

Without them, these jobs would be unfilled resulting in higher cost to consumers. Immigrants are playing a significant role in the U.S. economy. “Without immigration labor, it would be almost certainly not be possible to produce the same volume of food in the country” (qtd. in Jost). In 2012, there was a law created in Alabama to penalize employers who hired illegal immigrants. The law was created to generate jobs for U.S. Citizens that were unemployed. Consequently, a lot of businesses are falling.

 “Reed, presidents of the state’s builders and contractors’ organization, says construction companies similarly cannot find enough workers among the citizen labor force. ‘Traditionally, in our recruitment efforts we have unfortunately not found those that are unemployed are ready and willing to perform these kind of jobs that required hard labor in extreme weather conditions’ ”(Jost). 

 

With legal status, illegal immigrants who perform jobs in these areas would have the privilege to work freely and be able to call the authorities when needed.

Many U.S. citizens claim that immigrants from all over the world are a threat to their society. Worrying that the mass of immigrants would banish their culture and language. They argue that immigrants are here to take advantage of the free services that the country offers to the public while taking jobs from U.S. citizens. On the other hand, they are concerned by their immigration status. U.S. Immigration has made many attempts to legalize immigrants from all over the country, but all of them were not successful. Without documentation, immigrants are a target for deportation and fraud.

George J.Borjas, a professor of economics at the University of California in San Diego, argues that illegal immigrants are treated fairly because as long as illegal immigrants are working for low wages, employers will continue hiring cheap labor. Borjas claims illegal immigrants are treated fairly, yet that is not true. Immigrants are always being exploited by employers. For example, “some farm bosses even have been convicted in recent years of enslaving workers, most of whom are illegal aliens afraid to speak up for fear of deportation” (Triplett). In some cases illegal immigrants are not just exploited, but also have lost their lives. For instance:

 

July 2003, after picking grapes for ten hours in 100-degree heat in California’s San Joaquin Valley, Asuncion Valdivia collapsed. Coworkers poured water on the 53-year-old farmworker and he regain consciousness. But the crew boss didn’t summon an ambulance, even though Valdivia couldn’t walk without help. Instead, the boss told Valdivia’s son to take his father home. Minutes after being out in the car, however, Valdivia started foaming at the mouth and died. (Triplett)

Anti-immigrant organizations are all over the country. These organizations share something in common; they want illegal immigrants out of U.S. “About 750 volunteers spent at least one eight-hour shift in the field, patrolling a 23 mile stretch of desert along the border in Arizona to stem the flow across one of the country’s busiest illegal entries points” (Soraghan). 

Many U.S. citizens said that they are doing what the government is failing to do by not guarding the border closely enough to keep illegal immigrants from crossing it regularly. In 2005, Republican Tom Tancredo said “these folks speak for thousands of Americans who feel the same way; I call them heroes” (qtd. in Soraghan). Every single organization has created a different strategy to fight the flow of illegal immigrants.

Most immigrants come to U.S. to have freedom, but it can be the opposite due to all of the anti-immigrant organizations. These organizations are a threat to illegal immigrants because most of “the leadership of each of the major ant-immigrant organizations is linked in some way to hate groups” (Larsen). The following evidence shows that these anti-immigrants groups are mostly seniors that came from Europe. These people are “White nationalist, who think nonwhite immigrants threaten Euro-American culture” (Larsen).

Other evidence shows that immigrants are not welcome for these people. They have created “six anti-immigrants organizations that focus on promoting the English language and campaigning against the translation of official documents” (Larsen). This also shows that they want only English to be spoken. By the number of evidences, anti-immigrant organizations do not want other ethnicities to enter the United States of America.

Nobody wants to be controlled or treated like an object; however, anti-immigrants groups are making immigrants’ lives miserable. They “patrol the U.S. Mexico Border, build fences, and notes the license plate numbers of contractors who hire undocumented workers” (Larsen). Anti-immigrants groups member have been “tied to hate groups and stand accused of using excessive force on the border” (Larsen). Illegal immigrants do not deserve what all these anti-immigrant groups are causing.

The United States of American is a nation full of people from the entire world. It has been the melting pot of the world for decades, offering a better quality of life to all nationalities. However, they are not all welcomed by to many U.S. citizens. Some argue that illegal immigrants should not be here, claiming they take jobs away from hardworking United States citizens. In fact, U.S. citizens have created numbers of organizations preventing immigrants arriving in the country. Illegal immigrants do not have many options, but to deal with exploitation due to the lack of legal status. Legalizing illegal immigrants would stop some the unfair treatment they are facing.

 

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