Written by Isaac Netherton
Edited by Annika Lilja
Immigration has always been at the forefront of American culture. Considered the “Melting Pot of the World,” our society has been defined by its diversity, and the hope that a better life can be found in the United States of America. In recent years, however, views on immigration have become increasingly polarizing. According to the Pew Research Center, “Liberal Democrats, in particular, emphasize the importance of allowing unauthorized immigrants to stay and admitting refugees into the country,” whereas 81% of Republicans say that increasing security along the border, and, in turn, keeping out illegal immigrants, is very important.
Democratic Senator, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has called for the abolition of Immigration Customs and Enforcements, citing that the ICE has, “Been the United States' agency for committing human rights abuses against immigrants.” On the other hand, Republican Senator Ted Cruz has voiced support in repealing the Fourteenth Amendment, which allows those born in the United States immediate citizenship, and opposes a pathway to citizenship for those who came to America as children, saying that, “Doing so is inconsistent with the promises we made to the men and women who elected us."
Among the ordinary citizens, there seems to be a similar contrast, though according to certain studies, it seems that an American citizen is more likely to be accepting of immigration. According to a Cato Institute study, 91% of the American people welcome immigration, while only 9% want to shut down the border.
In recent years, opposition to immigration has been a focal point in American politics. Republican President Donald Trump ran his immigration stances on the platform of “Build the Wall,” a concept that would decrease immigration and provide protection to the people of the United States from those who ‘violate our borders’ and ‘break into our country illegally,’ according to President Trump. Met with support from most Republicans, his border policy has garnered much controversy, as most journalists and reporters have cited that his policies on limiting asylum for those seeking refuge in the United States, instituting a family separation policy, and increasing the use of detention for illegal immigrants will “Undermine human rights,” according to the Center for Migration Studies.
A popular belief that ‘immigrants will take American jobs, lower our wages, and especially hurt the poor' is, according to another Cato Institute, a false belief, as, “Immigrants are typically attracted to growing regions and they increase the supply and demand sides of the economy once they are there, expanding employment opportunities.” This fear, however, is not unwarranted, as is stated in the article “A Conservative Pathway to to Immigration Reform” from Heritage.Org, “The United States should seek to attract high-skill labor, both through the immigration and non-immigration systems.” Many politicians, such as House Representative Rooney Davis of Illinois, have cited concerns in the federal budget, with Davis himself saying, “Studies have shown that passing legislation to permanently protect these individuals [recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that allows children of illegal immigrants to stay in the US] would add hundreds of billions to our country’s gross domestic product (GDP).”
One major concern that has been brought up by multiple Congressmen is that there is a lack of proper immigration reform in the United States. Going back to the Obama Administration and the pushback by conservative politicians for a tighter control of immigrants crossing the border, the massive influx of immigrants during President Obama’s tenure called many to question his amnesty policy. From the Heritage.Org article, it states that the wisest path, “Is one in which Americans enforce their laws, secure their borders, work with other countries to combat illegal immigration and create a legal immigration system that is easier to use, brings in more high-skilled immigrants and creates well-functioning, temporary worker programs to improve the economy.”
As Senator Robert F. Kennedy once said, “Our attitude towards immigration reflects our faith in the American ideal.” Whether those ideals are reflected in the idea of increasing our focus on the border, or figuring out ways for immigrants to become naturalized citizens, a divide is clearly represented in the picture. And even then, 48% of registered Republicans say that allowing a way for immigrants to stay here is important, and 52% of Democrats say that “increasing security is very important.” There will always be a clear contrast between people, regardless of political affiliation, in the international movement of immigration. To quote another political great, President George Washington, and his thoughts regarding immigration, “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges…”
“4. Views on Race and Immigration.” Pew Research Center - U.S. Politics & Policy, 27 May 2020, www.pewresearch.org/politics/2019/12/17/views-on-race-and-immigration.
CitizenPath. “Immigration Quotes from Great Americans.” CitizenPath, 4 Feb. 2022, citizenpath.com/immigration-quotes-great-americans/#:%7E:text=%E2%80%9CWe%20the%20people%20of%20this,of%20us%20were%20once%20foreigners.%E2%80%9D&text=%22Every%20aspect%20of%20the%20American,from%20the%20contributions%20of%20immigrants.%E2%80%9D&text=%E2%80%9CA%20child%20on%20the%20other,compassion%20than%20my%20own%20child.%E2%80%9D
“The Conservative Consensus on Immigration.” Becoming American Initiative, 29 June 2018, www.becomingamericaninitiative.org/the-conservative-consensus-on-immigration
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Ekins, Emily, and David Kemp. “Poll: 72% of Americans Say Immigrants Come to the United States for Jobs and to Improve Their Lives.” Cato Institute, 27 Apr. 2021, www.cato.org/blog/poll-72-americans-say-immigrants-come-us-jobs-improve-their-lives-53-say-ability-immigrate.
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