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Immigration: do not fear the “other”

Getty Image photo by Justin Sullivan

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Getty Image photo by Justin Sullivan

Rachael Bayuk

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Immigrants are part of the lifeblood of the United States. Since the beginning, the integration of new ideas has launched our great nation forward into the ever-expanding future.

A lot of born citizens, including the president, have a tendency to discredit immigrants. To lump them all into a group and say that they are simply welfare recipients who do nothing for our country.

However, they are not here for a handout. They are here because they believe in our American message. Our freedom, our dreams and our ability to be whoever we want to be.

Yet, it does not seem that the American message is allowed for immigrants. When they seek work; people say they are stealing jobs. When they seek schooling; people say they are getting a “free ride.” When they starve and ask for food; people say they are “egg sucking.”

Do not hate someone for where they came from. Ignorance is said to be bliss, but I can see no happiness in the eyes of hatred. Many immigrants do work that born citizens would never do. How are they taking jobs from you when you are too lazy to do them in the first place?

Let us also not forget that it is native-born white citizens that hold the majority of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) “handouts.” It is not the Hispanic or the Asian immigrants. As a matter of fact, Asians make up only 2.4 percent of SNAP recipients and Hispanics 10.9 percent.

These are very different numbers from the ones thrown across fighting lines.

Immigrants are labeled as unwanted before they even arrive. We should be proud of our nation for being a place of refuge and freedom. Hatred of the “other” has led our nation down a very dark road before. Let us not tread those paths again.

Not all immigrants are unwanted. Just those deemed “unfit” for the United States. This reminds me of the harsh immigration differences at Angel Island versus those at Ellis Island.

President Trump has proposed new restrictions on immigrants based on income and the probability of them needing government assistance. However, this is not a new idea. This has been flirted with before in the use of “public charge.” Which has been a clause in the immigration policy for over 30 years that had been changed by multiple presidents, including Bill Clinton.

No rules to it have been so bold before. However, it is unlikely to affect many immigrants. The proposal is filled with jargon but it really reads as a guideline for officers to go off of and judge on their own.

Data does seem to point to there being a gap in pay between many immigrants and those born citizens. Why is that? Reports would suggest that, after being in this country for 20 years, many immigrants are still living with significantly lower levels of income than born citizens. This must suggest something about our system, not the immigrants who come here to build new lives.

Ask yourself, do you look at or treat immigrants differently? Does an accent make you giggle or judge? Do you believe you are smarter than someone because you understand English “better?” If you answered yes to any of these questions you are an asshole.

The worry is that immigration will become a wealthy individuals luxury. Making a certain amount a year is an impossible indicator of how they will do while in the United States. Buying the ability to be here should not be the objective. I am all about using our tax dollars wisely, however, it is not a solution to tax issues that I stand behind.

How will this help anyone? They are attempting to make it easier to bar our doors to people who want to legally immigrate here. This will only lead to more people immigrating to our country through secrecy. Traveling in the shadows and living in fear. I don’t want this fate for anyone.

As a nation we should be encouraging legal immigration, we should be making it a better process. Something that isn’t so expensive. Do not let the country’s deep seeded fear of people who don’t feel “American” continue.

Citizens are not better just because they were born here. Our generational history does not make us more American. Immigrants today are searching for the same things that immigrants were looking for 100 years ago; a better life.

If you don’t support immigration than you ought to consider what it is you are afraid of. It is something so vile to you that you would push people away from a good life to avoid it. What is it? What power do you think you will lose?

Rachael Bayuk can be reached at [email protected] or @BayukRachael on Twitter

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Immigration: do not fear the “other”