Why has immigration become such a divisive issue in America?
Immigration has been problematic in America since Europeans began to arrive in the 1500’s. By historical accounts, Native Americans reception of this land’s first immigrants was mixed, ranging from a violent reaction to one of open arms; however, the great majority of accounts were welcoming.
European settlers saw the land as theirs for the taking and natives as an obstacle to colonialism. While Native Americans sought cooperation with Europeans under treaties, Europeans saw cooperation as a temporary necessity.
Certain nationalities saw America as their own, such as the English and Scottish. They did not take kindly to German, Irish, and Polish immigrants, who did not take kindly to Italian and Spanish immigrants. Angel Island was the Ellis Island for the Chinese and other Asian ethnic groups. Mexicans had long inhabited America’s South and West, but millions were sent to Mexico after land acquisitions by America. Colonists and immigrants formed the workforce and armies of America. While the divide between the North and South over slavery culminated into a civil war, Americans continued the “Indian Wars,” which finally ended in 1924.
America’s immigration policies were never without nationalist and racist underpinnings. There was a period of time, from 1947 to 1970, when Americans seemed less concerned about immigration, compared to prior periods in American history. However, the extremist wing of the Republican party has grown from a marginalized aspect to the predominant platform it is today. As recent as 1990, Republican rhetoric regarding immigration was relatively tame compared to today. Moderate Democrats of the Democratic Leadership Council lead by President Clinton gave in to pressures from the Republican right win and signed into law the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA) which was a conservative bill. Although President Obama supported DACA and the DREAM Act, he deported more undocumented immigrants than any president since 1940.
Perhaps the greatest tragedy of the immigration problems today is the fact that negative attitudes towards immigration are based on misinformation, along with racism and nationalism. Donald Trump has promoted misinformation about immigrants to gain votes. Trump encouraged his voters to see enemies of America everywhere. He repeated the lie that the cause of low wages for American workers was because of immigrants. The fact is that the loss of union manufacturing jobs to Mexico and China and a failure of Republicans to agree to raise the minimum wage to keep up with inflation are the most significant wage suppressors. What is so much worse about Trump is how he is willing to promote racist talk and aggressive behaviors towards undocumented immigrants, Muslims, and Black Americans as well, who have been de facto citizens as long as Whites. We must all speak out against his racist comments at every turn.
Aside from slavery, we are a nation of immigrants who pushed out indigenous people to make room for Western European economic expansion. Other than Native Americans, no one ethnic group can lay claim to the identity of America.
American businesses along with the US Government have always sought out immigrants to provide labor for economic growth – both industrial and agricultural. My maternal great grandfather, who was a son a serf from Poland came to America after seeing flyers in his hometown that read, “The streets in America are paved in gold.” But many American leaders pretend the immigrants need us more than we need them. In fact, the current leadership of the Republican party is hurting the American economy and the soul of our nation by how they are treating immigrants and refugees. It is nothing less than evil as well as economically unsound. The bottom line is that our economy will decline without immigrants, and our moral standing has seriously declined as well. There is one organization who is demanding better treatment of immigrants and refugees. COSECHA’s Demands
- Permanent Protection: Legalization for all undocumented immigrants.
- Licenses for All: All undocumented immigrants who work, live, and contribute to the Indiana economy deserve the right to drive without fear. We demand that the legislative council assign to a summer study committee the topic of issuing driver’s licenses for all.
- Dignity for Immigrant Workers: Labor rights such as access to unemployment. Payment of time lost due to illnesses, especially COVID19. Access to the FMLA. Hazard pay for work under risky conditions. Health and safety measures in workplaces. Protections against dismissals and retaliation following COVID19.
- State Aid and Relief: Access to state support packages, funds and stimulus checks, and creation of funds for the undocumented community. Access to education with paying the same tuition prices as any other resident. Access to occupational licenses regardless of legal status.
- Rent Cancellation: Cancellation of rent and mortgage payments during the crisis.
- Right to Health and Survival: Universal health care, including access to testing and hospitalization, for the entire immigrant community. Access to information on the health crisis in our language. Access to mental health providers and specialists.
- Freedom for All: Stop all deportations. The release of all immigrants in detention on humanitarian parole or release on recognizance, not conditioned on bond, at the border, in Indiana, and throughout the country.
Below is the link to COSECHA movement:
I am for developing a pathway to citizenship. We should waive fees for citizenship applications because people coming to America are too poor to afford it; fees make them vulnerable to further victimization.
I understand many Americans worry about immigrants taking their jobs. However, there are much more humane and creative solutions to employment problems than putting people in jail or deporting them.
I support repealing the racist and arbitrary Muslim ban and a moratorium on deportations.
April 14th, 2020
Town Hall: Immigration, Legalization & Decriminalization
Medicare for All
Healthcare, Education & Taxes
The Other Issues