posts 1 - 15 of 27
freemanjud
Boston, US
Posts: 205

Readings:

Scott S. Greenberger, “‘Cheap Slaves’: Trump, immigration, and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act,” Washington Post, August 3, 2017. https://drive.google.com/file/d/147VTywsTeZjNFPX8J-j9dCAt5nFfI3n_/view?usp=sharing


Scott Horsley, “5 Things to Know about Obama’s Enforcement of Immigration Laws,” National Public Radio (NPR), August 31, 2016. https://www.npr.org/2016/08/31/491965912/5-things-to-know-about-obamas-enforcement-of-immigration-laws


John Bargh, “At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions,” Washington Post, November 22, 2017.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YFPf6RLVcSMMSju0b7hL5TKJbPDuLM7w_GECykyHYxo/edit?usp=sharing


and you should have already watched:


(1) Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border (2018) [54 minutes] https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/separated-children-at-the-border/


(2) and as a follow up to this, a short interview with Jacob Soboroff (NBC reporter) on his book Separated: Inside an American Tragedy, 2020 [5:55]

https://www.msnbc.com/andrea-mitchell-reports/watch/-separated-author-jacob-soboroff-things-are-arguably-worse-than-they-were-two-years-ago-87404613543


(3) Jorge Ramos, Real America: Out of Sight and Out of Mind, 2020 [7:07] [scroll down the doc for the video]

https://www.univision.com/univision-news/immigration/real-america-with-jorge-ramos-migrant-kids-stuck-at-the-border


Here are several quotes to consider:


“In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin.


But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

― President Theodore Roosevelt (served 1901-1909), in a letter to the president of the American Defense Society, January 3, 1919.



“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”

--President Franklin D. Roosevelt (served 1933-1945), spoken at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Convention, Washington, DC, April 21, 1938


“Rather than making them, of talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems, make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit, and then, while they’re working and earning here, they pay taxes here. And when they want to go back they can go back, and cross. And open the border both ways, by understanding their problems. This is the only safety valve they have right now, with that unemployment, that probably keeps the lid from blowing off…And I think we could have a fine relationship.”

― President Ronald Reagan (served 1981-1989), while debating George H.W. Bush during the Republican primary, 1980.


“Yo no soy mexicano. Yo no soy gringo. Yo no soy chicano. No soy gringo en USA y mexicano en Mexico. Soy chicano en todas partes. No tengo que asimilarme a nada. Tengo mi propia historia.”

-- Carlos Fuentes, from Le Frontera de cristal, 1997.


“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.”

-- Warsan Shire, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth (2011)



We've been talking about the outright hostility about admitting Asian folks into this country. And we could take that further and look at the immigration bans that were instituted almost immediately after Donald Trump took office in 2017, directed at not only immigrants but people more broadly traveling from a number of predominantly Muslim countries. Keep in mind, this was not only an issue under Donald Trump. As you’ll see from Scott Horsley’s article for NPR, Barack Obama was enforcing immigration laws and deporting folks as well.


But of course, the cri de coeur that we’ve heard most often in the United States in recent years is the sheer rhetoric about people coming from “south of the border.” And from the film you watched, you saw how that rhetoric and impassioned speeches led to border walls, child separations, deportations, incarcerations, asylum seekers stuck in Mexico or returned to dangerous homelands—in other words, nightmares beyond words.


So….what motivates people who are already in the United States (or for that matter, any other nation around the world that is confronting the desire of others to migrate—often for urgent, compelling, desperate reasons—to their country) to oppose immigration? Unless you are indigenous or forcibly brought to this country, theoretically you are all descended from immigrants who chose to come here.


So why do some descendants of past or present generations of immigrants seem to express opposition to immigration? Using the readings (yes, be specific!) and the films (yes, cite them too!) you watched, try to answer this question…as well as this one: What do fear and anxiety have to do with it? And provide specific examples that support your view.


Know that we will be talking much more about fear in the coming weeks.


ernest.
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

Well, the clearest reason people fear immigrants is because they’re usually poor, and foreign in language, customs, and appearance. So people make assumptions about them such as them being “dirty” and “criminal.” This is generally inflamed by politicians like Trump, as you know, even though that narrative is a complete, outright lie!! Evidence clearly indicates that immigrants have much lower crime rates than native-born Americans!! Like, google “immigrant crime rates.” Every single article that pops up for me is a study saying that this myth of immigrant criminality is totally untrue.

Beyond this, I wonder if there does always have to be a limit about how many immigrants we have to accept. I was struck by a comment from an Obama administration official who discussed their rationale behind some of their less-popular immigration actions, saying that we can’t just accept everyone, or send a message that anyone can come and stay here if they want. I don’t agree with that, but she did raise an interesting point—is there a certain cap on immigrants beyond which experts think we can’t handle such a large influx of new residents? Or is that thinking just baloney? Either way, I feel we certainly have the capacity to be accepting far more immigrants than we are right now.

I think the fear of immigrants also comes from an “us vs them” mindset. “We,” the American citizens, are America, “they,” the immigrants, are foreigners. Thus, when an immigrant comes to America and takes a job, it is seen as not only a waste (a perfectly good job has gone to a “foreigner”) but indeed a theft of a job from a “hard-working American.” The same idea applies to the rationale behind the Chinese Exclusion Act, as discussed by the “Cheap Slaves” article. They were seen as taking land, wealth, and jobs that would somehow be better used if they went to “real” Americans. It never seems to occur to people that these immigrants, too, might be Americans like us! Furthermore, this thinking on how jobs works is simplistic. As I remember hearing an expert describe it once, it’s not like there are just a fixed number of jobs in the country, and whoever gets one does so at the expense of someone else. The economy is more complicated than that, and simply by living here consuming products and services, immigrants contribute to our economy and create jobs as well by adding to consumer demand. Not, of course, that doing so is a prerequisite for coming here.

This mentality is further seen in Trump’s order to deny green cards to anyone who would be a “public charge” (i.e. they would be on government welfare). The thinking is that they would be a burden, leeching off government resources—again, considered a waste because it is going to a “non-American.” So one way we can start combatting this narrative is making it clear that immigrants can be Americans too! I say “can be” instead of “are” because some immigrate temporarily while others don’t always consider themselves American. Given that much of the issues I described are based on faulty logic or instinctive thinking, the Yale article about conservatives definitely makes sense, although I strongly hesitate to generalize that conservatism is inextricably linked with fear. Social conservatism (opposition to rights/equality, etc.), yes, but I’m not as convinced the same totally applies to other aspects of conservative ideology. While the entire article was striking, I was admittedly left feeling a bit dubious… does getting a flu vaccine really make you less scared of immigrants?? Or is just that those who are more likely to get a vaccine (mostly liberals, I’d say) are already less scared of immigrants? I’d say the latter.

Ultimately, I believe more representation of immigrants and the “push factors” that bring them here, as well as more coverage in the news of such things, would help humanize them and eliminate these fears, which have really reached a climax of absurdity—I saw a Fox News article the other day entitled “Rubio demands clarity on Biden's 100-day deportation pause, amid fears violent criminals will remain in US.” How alarmist is that!? The thinking behind this utterly baffles me, given that if there are any “violent criminals” awaiting deportation, they would obviously be waiting in a jail and thus pose little threat to the public.

On the note of why some people descended from immigrants themselves oppose immigration, I think the common refrain is that *their* grandparents (or great-grandparents and what have you) came here legally and worked hard once they did. Of course, for an immigrant fleeing for their life, undergoing the proper application process for legal entry would not exactly be a priority so this argument is a bit ridiculous. And anyways, the whole concept of the “lazy immigrant” feels generally untrue and more connected to the whole “welfare queens” myth, which is another story altogether.

Ultimately, if people are so worried about immigration, they should work to stop the root cause! Biden’s proposed immigration bill “put forth a $4 billion four-year plan that aims to decrease violence, corruption and poverty in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras” (TIME). Assuming this plan is good faith (and not just more US government meddling and destabilizing), more should be done like it.

iluvcows
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 20

Factors Behind Anti-immigration Beliefs

Through these articles and the heartbreaking films we have studied, I really became further immersed into the horrible history of immigration opposition. This issue has been around for years, plaguing those traveling just to find a better, safer life for them and their families. Individuals' ignorance to the urgent reasons migrants have to escape from their county is staggering. Many are seeking safety from threats, violence, poverty, and crime, desperate to find asylum and security for their families.


High officials and leaders throughout history have preached anti-immigration notions, swaying the public in their favor. As people hear those above them spreading their strong opinions about the dangers of immigration, it causes them to believe these standpoints despite the lack of evidence. This is a large motivator for the opposition to immigration because individuals tend to blindly follow people of high ranking. In the NPR article 5 Things To Know About Obama's Enforcement Of Immigration Laws, it reveals previous president’s immigration records during their terms. In the beginning of Obama’s presidency, deportation rose to over 400,000 in fiscal year 2012, higher than that of Bush. This upward trend during changes in presidency began with the 1996 passage of Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act and accelerated after the September 11 attacks. During Trump’s presidency, his actions vividly demonstrated his negative opinion of immigration, as deportation levels rose and many were imprisoned at the border. Within the film Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border it stated that in Trumps first 100 days in office, officials rounded up 40,000 undocumented immigrants. This shockingly high number paved the way for violence, discrimination, and racisim inflicted upon immigrants coming to the United States during his presidency. We see this first hand in the video Out of Sight and Out of Mind where we follow a nine year old girl and learn about her experience at a border camp. Those residing there face horrible conditions, a lack of education as well as resources. This is a result of Trump enacting the Remain in Mexico policy making migrants seeking asylum remain in their country until the process is over. Presently, as the pandemic surfaced, Jacob Soboroff discusses the abundance of cases within these ICE detention centers and the blatant refusal of the government to release the inhabitants to safety. During this time immigrant children are still being separated from their families and endangered. Trump's transparency about his intolerance for immigrants prompted his followers to adopt his view and further motivate individuals to object to those moving into the country.


Another incentive involved in the opposition towards immigration is those fearful of competition. Among the groups throughout history that have been seen as a threat to jobs and more are the Chinese. As described in the text ‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese people immigrated to the United States and worked for low wages in railroads and gold mines during a period of high unemployment. A man named Denis Kearney founded the Workingmen's Party of California which objected to this and fought to take these jobs away from the laborers. This sparked governmental action against this because of heightened fear that they would take over and steal all American’s jobs. The Chinese Exclusion Act, published in 1882, prohibited Chinese laborers from coming to the country for 20 years and denied citizenship to those already residing in the United States. As described within the Washington Post article, a woman named Julia Sand begged Chester A. Arthur, the current president at the time, to oppose this bill, sending him 23 letters attempting to illustrate the major issue with the act. Eventually he tried to veto it, saying they were beneficial to the economy and the country's harsh manner should be put to an end. Despite the President's wishes, congress denied the veto, only cutting it to 10 years, maintaining all restrictions. The immense anxiety Chinese immigrants as well as all immigrants instill in the people in the United states has motivated many to grow opposed to immigration.


Maintaining security and safety for us and those we care about greatly influences our actions and opinions. In the Washington Post’s article by John Bargh, I was surprised to read that it is scientifically proven that the fear center of the brain is larger in conservatives than liberals. When individuals feel safe in the situation, they tend to support immigration despite their political standpoint. This was shown during tests where the subjects who were given flu shots earlier were much more comfortable with individuals immigrating from other countries than those who had not yet received one. Additionally, those given hand sanitizer prior to the questioning felt more secure in allowing individuals to enter the country because they had a feeling of safety. Fear is a large contributor to anti-immigration beliefs, proven by the results of the tests illustrated by the participants. Politicians exploit their knowledge of this tendency in order to manipulate their followers and votes through fear and the desire for security.


user1234
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

Fear and Its Effects

Humans are driven by fear and anxiety. This is why the descendants of past immigrants are so opposed to immigration. In the John Bargh article the study showed that people associate immigrants with disease because for so long people referred to immigrants as “bacteria” or “disgusting”. It talks about how humans number one priority is to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. When they start seeing immigrants as a disease, that's when they want to get rid of them because they are seen as a threat to their safety and well being.

This hatred, bias, and fear towards immigrants has been happening for centuries. The Chinese Exclusion Act happened because people thought that Chinese people were the reasons they couldn’t find a job. The “Cheap Slaves” article explains how during the Gold Rush no one had a problem with Chinese immigrants because they were building the Transcontinental Railroad that was making people a lot of money. When the economy was bad everyone started to despise Chinese Americans. This shows that when people are scared that they can’t survive they have to blame a group of people who don't have strength numbers to be able to defend themselves. White people put their frustrations on immigrants, and use any differences in culture they might have as a way to portray them as “monsters” or “barbarians”

In the film Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border the anger against immigrants crossing the border is largely fueled by the rhetoric used by former(that felt good to say) President Trump. In fact most of his campaign was filled with hateful language against immigrants. One example was when he said “They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” implying that most immigrants are bad people trying to destroy the country. This is yet another example of how someone can instill fear in people, and then later they act on that fear by having hate towards immigrants. When in reality most immigrants coming into the US are seeking asylum because of the dangers or poverty in their own countries. With this same logic if all immigrants were deported then people would again be scared that without immigrants there would be so many jobs that people wouldn’t want to do. It’s not the immigrants that are the problem, but it’s the language and beliefs created by people with influence that makes other people scared of immigrants.

squirrelluver123
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

Fear of the Unknown

It seems that people often think a rise in immigration will affect them a lot more than it actually does. Politicians and people in power make the masses believe that having immigrants come to their country will drastically change their life, when in reality it will have little to no affect on their individual lives. I think the main reason a lot of people oppose immigration is based on what they hear from the media or those in power who make assumptions and create negative stereotypes about those coming to the country. I agree with what @ernest said about how this is inflamed by Trump, his referring to immigrants as “criminals” that will “bring more crime” to the country, which we know is not true. Nevertheless, as we’ve seen in our studies, the problem did not start with Trump. People have always had harsh feelings towards immigrants as we saw with the Chinese Exclusion Act in the 1880s, and even seeing during Obama’s administration how they struggled to find an effective way to make immigration more humane while facing backlash from both sides.


It was interesting to read that immigrants get blamed for “taking jobs” when the economy is struggling more than they do when the economy is doing well. This makes sense though, as it seems that those who have lived in a country like to blame the problems within the country on those who are new to the country. People mask their true racist and xenophobic feelings behind the absurd reasons of losing jobs and rising crime rates because they seem more justifiable, even when they are supported with no facts. People in the past came to the United States for the same reasons that people are coming from South America, or anywhere else in the world, to the country now. For some reason people who are descended from immigrants feel like they have a greater claim over the country. As the experiment showed, people who have more fear in their lives generally have more conservative beliefs, and many who oppose immigration are afraid of losing their sense of security.


People are generally afraid of what they don't know, in this case “the other,” those from different countries. It is scary for them when people are different from them, when immigrants have different beliefs or cultures from them. This made sense then when they shared the results that conservative people answered the questions in a more democratic way if their super power was staying safe no matter what. It shows that fear influences everything we do and how we react to everything, including our stance on immigration. Trump and the media’s rhetoric only increases the fear within their followers, playing off the fears they already have.


While I knew that there were many families separated trying to get into the US, it was saddening to hear from children who had been separated from their parents for weeks. After hearing from immigrants and seeing footage of the inhumane treatment they have to endure, it struck me to hear someone from the Obama administration talk about how there will always be one side that is unhappy with the immigration laws. While I agree that there will never be everyone in agreement, there are other options than the policies that have been put in place in the past.


Everyone has the right to live safely and freely and if that means moving to another country they should be able to do that. It is already such a dangerous journey for many to make to come to the US, and immigrants are fleeing dangerous situations. We have to understand why immigrants are coming to the country, and if we want fewer of them to come into the country then we have to help them live safely in their own country.

boricua1234
Roslindale, MA, US
Posts: 16

Immigrants are people too

Americans sadly close their doors on many immigrants who are in search of better, and safe lives. They reject immigrants because of this "us and them" mentality. Most Americans have little to no empathy towards immigrants, even though they are treated horribly. During the Obama administration many kids were separated from their families, which the immigrants had no idea would happen. The acting director of ICE Thomas Homan was a man who had little empathy and believed in what was being done. He has been separating families his whole career and believes in enforcing these laws that would rip apart families at the border. When he was talking about a heckler who was shouting about how they have no hearts for separating families he simply said that this was the law. Another American man who lived in Texas had the same sentiment, if they are not legal then what is being done to them is ok. This specific Texan man had many teenage immigrants crossing on his property and put up wiring so that these kids would recieve strong eletrical shocks when tryig to pass into America if they tried climbing his fence. He also had pictures of all the children who had died on his property, to me this was very insensitive because when he was holding them he didn't seem to care he just said it so matter of factly with no emotion. Clearly this is not in any way ok... tearing apart families and trying to get in the way of immigrant travels. Thousands of immigrant families are torn apart, children/men/women are raped, and die along their intense and scary journies to America and this cannot be allowed to happen. Americans need to try and put themselves in the shoes of the immmigrants and see that was is being done to them is incredibly traumatic and disturbing. This is similar to the separation of Native American families that occurred as many families were split apart and the lasting affects of it have been truly traumatic for them and their culture. Not many people realize the scary and disgusting conditions immigrants must face on top of the racial prejudices, but they lead difficult lives. It is one thing to have the courage to leave your home country, but coming here only to be recieved as "illegals" and other disgusting names is truly sad to see because these are people just like you and me, looking for a safe place to call home. These warped images of immigrants and the dehumanization of them is also perpetuated by Trump. He riled up a lot of Americans and turned immigration into this "us vs. them" scenario. He chanted messages about illegal immigrants saying they would steal jobs, that they are criminals, that they are uneducated, and tried to fill peoples minds with these ridiculous and untrue images of what immigrants are. Sadly due to fear this became the way that many immigrants are seen and it completely warps whom they are and their purposes for coming to America. Americans have to realize that these are people coming over who are fleeing violence, and in search of a new life and peace, they are not these evil creatures that people like Donald Trump have made them out to be. Compassion is necessary because America should not sign up for this "us vs. them" mentality that dehumanizes immigrants and makes them look like criminals. We need to understand that the immigration system is complex and it is not as easy as you would hope to become a citizen of the United States. Because what happened and what is happening at the border is not ok, America has messed up countless times and it is time to make reparations and not revert to the past. We should not be able to draw parallels to the destruction of Native American families because we shouldn't be separating families like this in the first place. In conclusion Americans need to wake up and see that immigrants are Americans too, and beyond that we are human and as people we need to have more empathy in order to move forward as a country and stop reverting back to old, traumatic, ways of our recent past.

yvesIKB
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 26

What Fear Eliminates

To "build a wall" has become a slogan Americans will never forget. It shows the staunch fear and disgust many of our citizens hold against people of color from around the world, as well as the hypocrisy of our country (a “nation built of immigrants”) in its xenophobic and unrelenting rhetoric. Although we attribute this slogan to former President Donald Trump and the anti-immigration policies he has enacted over the course of his administration, it is clear that this apathy to the plight of migrants and fervor for removing immigrants is not a new practice in even the highest offices of our country.


A common question Americans ask is why are they coming here?, or — like to U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar — why don’t you go back to where you came from? And there are so many reasons. As we have seen in the 2018 documentary Separated: Children at the Border, some families could be threatened by something as trivial as messing with the wrong person in a soccer game. In “Out of Sight and Out of Mind” by Real American with Jorge Ramos, we see Genesis, a nine-year-old girl, describing “war-taxes” and killings near schools of children. There are probably hundreds of other stories and traumas, but in every case, these migrants are not coming because they love America or its resources; they are coming because their lives, and those of their families, are being threatened, because they cannot even hope to live safely in their homes.


Still, it is clear that for some, that’s not reason enough. They still oppose immigration, despite (besides Indigenous peoples) being descended from immigrants themselves. I think part of the reason for this could be that they are so far removed (whether because they came legally, or because they’re several generation Americans) they do not remember or empathize with the struggles of migration. I think this was evident, again, in the documentary Separated, when interviewers asked several administrators how they could possibly separate children from their parents at the border when they themselves have children. Both Sarah Elizabeth Sanders (former White House press secretary) and Thomas Homan (acting director of ICE ‘17-’18) somewhat dodged this question, but I think it is because they don’t place themselves in the situations of undocumented migrants and of refugees. Many border patrol officials are more concerned with the legal aspects of being in this country rather than the lives and wellness of fellow human beings. I think perhaps the fact of human rights, which we are all granted, for refugees being allowed to seek asylum in any country has been disregarded, in favor of the lie that America in its greatness is isolated from the rest of the world. As many have pointed out on their Padlet posts last week, country borders are man-made, nationality and citizenship are man-made. Our humanity and our needs are not man-made, and I think that if these same opposers of immigration really listened to what refugees have gone through, if we asked them, what would you have done instead?, they would find themselves without an answer.


We have also seen that other motivations for opposing immigration can be the perception of a threat, or a response to some kind of fear or anxiety. In his “‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act,” Scott Greenberger reminds us of the anti-Asian sentiments in America, cemented by the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. Greenberger describes how many Americans were able to tolerate and coexist with Chinese immigrants until they felt threatened by some Asian agenda which would “‘further widen the breach between the rich and the poor’” according to Denis Kearney. It is the fear for themselves (specifically their job security against the competition of Chinese workers) which pushed them to their heightened animosity towards Asian immigrants, and we see this same type of fear emerge now.


In “5 Things to Know about Obama’s Enforcement of Immigration Laws,” Scott Horsley tells us how immigration policy has changed under the Obama administration, specifically shifting to focus on deporting incoming immigrants at the border rather than immigrants who have settled and made a life for themselves in America. While I think it is great that immigrants who have been living here for years and built a home here were targeted less, I still do not think Obama’s enforcements are equitable, as we are still depriving individuals and their families of that same opportunity. Moreover, as Horsley reminds us, we’re not considering the entire story, and maybe those at the border have “longstanding ties” or family here in this country already.


I think many Democrats might also be surprised at another fact Horsley brings up — that in FY 2012, deportations peaked under the Obama administration with over 400,000 individuals driven away. This goes to show how the prejudices informed by our fears and anxieties persist regardless of party. Additionally, I think we have really seen the significance of fear in anti-immigration sentiments during the Trump administration — not necessarily because he is a Republican, but because he has amplified the fear and disgust towards migrants (specifically migrants of color) since the very beginnings of his first 2016 campaign, and in every moment since then. I think we really see this in our updated data, which shows how arrests and deportations at the U.S.-Mexico border actually doubled in 2019 under his administration as more migrants from Central America sought asylum. John Bargh’s study at Yale mentions further how Trump, with his “penchant for describing people… as ‘disgusting,’” exemplifies this belief of “contamination” or “disease” in his anti-immigration rhetoric. More recently, the idea that Chinese people themselves are “viruses” has heightened fear of immigrants, of “foreigners,” in America.


I think this pattern we see resurfacing throughout our country’s history is again based on race — people of color from Africa, from Latin America, from the Middle East, from Asia are simply less welcome than their white counterparts from Canada, or Australia, or Western Europe. I agree with @ernest. that those who are “foreign in language, customs, and appearance” may induce more fear, since, as @squirrelluver123 said, “people are generally afraid of what they don't know.” Without cultural or physical or linguistic familiarity, I definitely think Americans are more fearful of the potential in their differences and less empathetic towards fellow human beings.


What I can’t stop thinking about though, is how can we get these barriers to break down, to see past our differences and assumptions and find empathy. How can we get young students in America to see that immigrant children can’t worry about their grades because they are fearing for their lives? How can we get parents in America to see the pain of other immigrant parents, when their children are lastingly traumatized after coming to the border, or when they realize they can’t protect their children from the cruelty of our very nation, the United States? Can we bring citizens of our country to just imagine the dread of migrants and refugees investing their last hope in this country, only to arrive and find all their worst nightmares are true? Yes, it is natural for us to want to protect ourselves, to react based on fear — but the damage being done to other humans because of our unjustified prejudices is very real, and I hope that we can bring ourselves to see the weight of that.
thesnackthatsmilesback
brighton, ma, US
Posts: 21

Fearing That History Repeats Itself

I want to start off by introducing the pure irony of the situation, immigrants pushing out new immigrants because of the fear that they will be overrun by them when in reality, it is what they did to Native Americans. In some sense, I feel like people fear people immigrating because they know that they are as capable as they themselves are to make a living in America, and by the capitalist mindset fear the idea of someone stealing their well earned spot or even advancing further on. By using derogatory terms and the mindset of me versus them, it creates a mindset that bottles up the and replaces it with the idea of supremacy. For example in Scott S. Greenberger’s, “‘Cheap Slaves’: Trump, immigration, and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act,” the Chinese Exclusion act was used because too many people were advancing. Chinese immigrants were put on a lower standard because they worked terrible wages and terrible conditions and were able to build a life out of that. Yet they are punished, while in reality usually people would get a promotion in that type of stance. They are able to work hard and boost the US economy yet they suffer for their hard work. Also after reading Jason Stanley’s How Facism Works, The Politics of Us and Them, there were multiple themes that continued to emerge throughout the reading and my thought process after reading these articles. Many crave the hierarchy that we have implemented into our system, not only due to the fact that it is only the nature of life to pin things against one another, but also because we time after time fail to create an equal system for all. In a sense, it is easier to create a divide between races and ethnicities due to the very obvious difference in physical features and culture. What makes America so interesting, is that it is a mixing pot of cultures and as time continues, we see that spreading more through different countries. The Chinese Exclusion act is an example of how pinning a subcategory of the population of America has proven to raise fear to an extent that puts Chinese immigrants to a disadvantage.

Another theme that continues to arise was the use of victimization of those who have made a contribution to America thus far. One really shocking instance was in Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border, when the man who lived at the border was less than sympathetic to the bodies that have shown up and been in that area, it was disheartening. When talking to the reporter he mimicked the phrase “ I don’t care about these people, just get them out of my territory.” He kept records of these dead bodies and videos of the people crossing the border. His mindset was to victimize himself for dealing with these illegal immigrants and therefore did not have much sympathy for their situation. He talks about what he has gone through, therefore tieing into the idea that he has earned his spot in America and therefore doesn’t need to care about these illegal immigrants coming in. Also it plays in to the idea of the rural population in America’s view, as seen in history, the rural communities are seen as the heart of the opportations while cities are seen as dirty and are there only for the trade of money. In this man’s statement about his views on these immigrants, it shows that the sentiment of rural communities not wanting outsiders in order to keep the land pure to still be relevant today, as these ideas date back to cities such as Sodom and Gomorrah. Although I understand it is traumatizing to discover these bodies in his own territory. I wonder if he can imagine the struggle these people have gone through to end up dead in the grass beyond his home such as the dangerous train hopping, the fear of deportation, and dehydration. I wonder how many dead bodies he has seen to be desensitized to the struggle these immigrants face illegal or not. I also wonder how Trump was able to justify splitting families up at the border and how he became desensitized to the trauma that these families face and the trauma that many children are left with.

To touch on the topic of fear and anxiety’s role in anti sentiment to immigrants, I want to introduce the irony that is placed, just like immigrant’s opposition to new immigrants. As talked about in, “5 Things To Know About Obama’s Enforcement Of Immigration Laws,” the direct correlation between the fear and anxiety towards immigrants mirrors the amount of deportations. I found it ironic that the less they feared, the less of a problem deportations where. In my opinion, it is a tug of war of fear and resistance, the fear that is caused by grouping people leads more people to fight back. By instituting looser laws, there are less deportations as well as less illegal immigrants. Although there are other factors like the steady economic state America was in during the second half of Obama’s term, I think fear is a double edged sword that plays on both parties, if they continue to fear one another the more uprising it will cause. To echo John Bargh’s , “At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions,” thoughts on the statement, “immigrants are a virus”, this country therefore is built on viruses. Most of us who are here today are not of Native American descent, this country is fueled by the hard work of immigrants yet there are many who fear them because there is too much that is unknown or the oppression they have once instated on others.

I never question if there was a science behind whether a person is liberal or conservative and their habits. I was focused on the idea of the background of the person as well as their environment ultimately shift a person in one direction of the other. I found it was intriguing that conservatives and liberals react differently to fear. The amygdala in the brain is seen to be larger in conservatives than in liberals which makes them fear at a larger rate, therefore usually seeing a hard problem as unmanageable while liberals see it as an obstacle. However I question the ratio between the boys and the girls in the experiment and what exactly they were playing at, since there is a notion that women are more susceptible to a vivid imagination, which may contribute to the results. I don’t want to undermine the experiment, but I think that it is something to keep in mind when looking at the data. I think that when Republicans were told to imagine that they were free from harm they became more liberal because they themselves were not in charge of the government they believe in. By putting trust into people who are higher than themselves, they worry about their stance much more as they already do not have much control to hang on to. They also may fear that their opinion may be not as intellectually advance and are more susceptible to follow with their governments ideas. This idea may contribute to the lack of education access that is seen in many red states.

I think that this experiment gives us hope as it gives an inside scoop to the idea that the right environment is flexible. By understanding the science behind the way we think as humans to better our safety and survival, the better off we will be to understand one another and hopefully find common ground.


BLStudent
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

Anti-Immigration sentiment

Immigration is one of the most important issues to many Americans, not just to those who come from immigrant families or otherwise relate or are sympathetic to those who are coming to this country but theres also a large part of the American population opposed to Immigration of any kind. The question is why there are so many who are so adamant against people coming to try get a better life and a big part of the reason is fear. People especially Americans are afraid of what or in this case who they know nothing about and their irrational fears are only strengthened by this nations leadership who dehumanize immigrants in order manipulate their supporters who are often disenfranchised as well.

One of the most common anti-immigrants talking points is that immigrants are taking jobs of American workers and our willing to work under much worse working conditions and for lower wages. This scares Americas poor and working class who wouldn't survive without their jobs. This idea goes back a long time in American history and was one of the main reasons for Anti-Asian sentiment and played a role in the Chinese exclusion act as is described in the 'cheap slaves' article. The Chinese exclusion act slashed legal immigration and set a precedent of xenophobia which continues to this day. Immigrants often do take very low paying jobs but that isn't the fault of people just looking for a better life but rather for the capitalists who exploit and take advantage of this labor to make more profit.

While one party is in my opinion clearly better on immigration issues both parties fail to humanize immigrants and address the roots of their issues. Both Democratic president Obama and Republican president Trump have deported massive numbers of people from all over the world and both have supported US imperialist policy across the world which creates a need for immigration to escape circumstances the US helped create. That being said Trumps blatant anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric wether it be against Mexican and South American immigrants, grouping them together and calling them criminals, or the ban on immigrants from Muslim countries or connecting the Coronavirus to Asian Americans like we talked about last week is incredibly damaging to Americas political climate and puts the lives of innocent people at risk. That being said democrats don't have clean hands either, on top of poor policy which hurts immigrants I believe that Democratic leadership often views immigrant communities as a useful voting block when its election season rather than individuals. A-lot of the times anti-immigrant fears are tied to other anxieties so its no surprise though not excusable that poor white rural workers one of the republicans main demographics are some of the most xenophobic. As the articles point out something as small as whether youve recieved a flu-shot can completely change your attitued torward immigration.

cherryblossom
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

Anti-Immigration Attitudes- Fear and Anxiety

In class, we have been talking about the hostility and discrimination against Asians immigrating to the United States. We looked at pieces of media that highlight the common stereotypes and images supporting anti-immigrant views, such as viruses, rats, invasion, labor competition, and threat to white women. The attacks against Chinese people and the destruction of their neighborhoods, specifically the massacre in the LA Chinatown in 1871, often go unnoticed as many do not learn about the lynching and killing of Chinese people during this event and many other similar incidents. This violence and hate led to the Page Act in 1875, which prohibited Chinese women from immigrating in order to prevent the Chinese population from growing. This was followed by the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, the first US immigration law to ban immigration based on race or ethnicity. Even though this was over a century ago, similar immigration policies and stereotypes continue to exist in our society today, as immigrants from Muslim countries and Central America are prohibited from seeking asylum in our country.


Separated: Children at the Border explained how the surge of Central American minors in 2014 and the acceptance of these immigrants into the country under the Obama administration gave rise to anti-immigrant sentiment. People perceived this huge wave of minor immigrants as an invasion of the U.S., thinking that the government had failed to control immigration. Consequently, a man named Mike Vickers helped the Border Patrol by setting up an electric fence around his property to catch immigrants and report them to the authorities. Furthermore, the Trump administration has exacerbated the fear and anxiety around immigration by increasing anti-immigrant rhetoric, such as “ they are going to bring drugs and crime” or “they want to steal American jobs.” The construction of his wall and the increase of patrol officers at the border also have given strength to anti-immigrant feelings. The film also showed how many Latinx immigrants were impacted by separations at the border and deportations out of the country. Many of the children face trauma from their journey to the border and from the separation that followed. When some of them reunited with their family, their parents noticed that their children cried more, were more angry, or were less cheerful than before. The fact that these immigrant children continue to fear that they will be separated from their parents again emphasizes how harmful these immigration policies are. The policies, separations, and deportations go to show that the U.S. government cares more about order than justice.


Fear and anxiety definitely play a big role in the growing anti-immigrant attitude. In the Washington Post article, a study showed that conservatives behave more strongly than liberals under circumstances of physical threat. This motivation for physical safety from many Trump supporters and anti-immigrant individuals induces the notion of immigrants being “dirty”, “germs”, and “virus” to “reason” their discriminatory behavior and language. This association of disease with immigrants gives rise to the fear that immigrant populations, like viruses, will grow and spread across the country to take American jobs. Moreover, many political figures manipulate this fundamental drive for physical safety to advance their own political agenda. Like @iluvcows, I think that leaders and other government officials who engage in and champion anti-immigrant policies and ideas contribute to the anti-refugee atmosphere in our country. This factor has allowed people to more strongly oppose immigration and support anti-immigration legislation, making them think that these actions are moral and acceptable.


The NPR article describes how deportations significantly declined after the first half of the Obama administration, dropping from a peak of 409,849 deportations in 2012 to 235,413 deportations in 2015. Even if deportations decrease in the Biden administration, opposed to the sharp increase during Trump’s time in office, we still have to address the issue of immigrants at the border. In Real America: Out of Sight and Out of Mind, we saw an account from a nine year-old girl living in a temporary camp in Mexico. As she describes her experiences in the camp, it is apparent that the living conditions for these immigrants are terrible. They live in tents and are constantly exposed to the heat, rain, and dirt, making them more susceptible to illnesses that cannot be relieved because of the inaccessibility to medicine. In addition, their environment also makes it harder for them to learn. This living situation for immigrants is reflective of asylum policies and actions of the U.S. government.


To echo @boricua1234, we need to move away from the “us vs. them” mindset and have compassion for refugees in order to move in the right direction in terms of immigration. We can start by changing how physically safe people feel through the spread of factual knowledge, allowing individuals to separate their assumptions and fears about immigrants from the real behaviors and experiences of immigrants. People also need to understand that immigrants are fleeing violence and poverty in their own country and that they have no ulterior motive but only the desire for safety and a better life. In addition, we must hold the government accountable for the documentation of immigrants and the management of these documents. According to the interview with Jacob Soboroff, Scott Lloyd, the director of ORR, had a list of the 10,000+ children that were separated from their parents and wanted to get rid of it, meaning that families would have never been able to reunite. Government officials should give proper repercussions to individuals, like Lloyd, and strive to prevent incidents like these by better documenting the number of separations and the children at detention centers. By taking these steps, we could create a space that is more understanding and accepting of immigrants, and we could build more trust between the U.S. and immigrants.


speedyninja
BOSTON, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

Intimidated by Immigrants

Perhaps there is no greater a divider, separating “us” and “them”, than our actual borders. These imaginary lines we created separate not only land and people physically, but seem to create a mental blockade which prevents us from understanding, and to some extent, caring about the “others” on the opposite side. Anti-immigrant sentiments are prevalent everywhere, and some people are committed to keeping all immigrants out, no exceptions, as if we are in a global game of Capture the Flag. Yet, as Ms. Freeman, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and so many others have acknowledged, at one point in almost all of our families’ histories, we were this “other” to people already in the land we now call home. And our families generally migrated not because they wanted to, but because they had to or felt it was the best thing to do for survival. As Warsan Shire cleverly puts it, “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.”


As @squirrelluver123 and @user1234 alluded to, I think one of the primary reasons some people oppose and express disdain towards immigrants is because it is easy to blame the “others”who recently came from across the border for any problems. As we have seen from the Chinese Exclusion passed in the 1880’s to Trump’s recent rhetoric blaming immigrants for crime and job loss, much of the anti-immigrant sentiment stems from their being blamed for social and economic woes. In the Washington Post “Cheap Slaves” article, it is noted that, “When gold was plentiful and labor was in short supply, the Chinese were tolerated. But when the economy struggled in the 1870s, animosity against Asians grew.” The increasingly worsening economic climate during the mid 1800’s directly correlated to the increase in anti Asian and anti immigrant sentiments, eventually leading to the Chinese Exclusion Act and other policies aimed at curbing immigration. Rather than reflect on internal failures within our countries and try to improve economic or social problems at the root, it seems we often take the easy way out and blame issues on outsider immigrants, who supposedly bring their problems or create new ones for us. In the United States currently, an example of this is that immigrants are often blamed for high crime rates within the country. However, as @ernest. mentions, evidence shows immigrants actually have lower crime rates than native-born Americans. I like the way the article on fear’s effect on political views put it in describing the often blamed minorities and immigrants as “scapegoated groups”.


Another perhaps more obvious reason for this opposition to immigration may lie solely in the fact that immigrants are seen as different. We have already established that as humans, we have a propensity to “other” and discriminate, and there is a lot of evidence of this when it comes to immigration. For example, in the MSNBC video, Katie Miller, former Communications Director to Mike Pence was quoted as saying, “No but I believe if you come to America you have to assimilate. Why do we need to have ‘Little Havana’”. Miller clearly has bias against immigrants and apparently their culture, arguing that they should not bring their customs to the United States despite our country's reputation as a melting pot. Maybe immigrants simply are an easy and accessible target for the overall blanket of discrimination all to common in human behavior, and because of the obvious differences common in language, customs, and appearance, so many oppose immigration.


Fear and anxiety I believe play a tremendous role in immigrant opposition. Within the common theme of blaming immigrants for problems, we have seen that the stresses of economic trouble, for example, can cause people to lash out and resort to scapegoating. Many politicians have used this knowledge of the effects of fear to influence voters. For example, Trump’s constant warnings of immigrants bringing crime and stealing jobs have greatly influenced people to use immigrants as a scapegoat to address fears of economic insecurity or physical safety. Furthermore, as mentioned in the Frontline video, since the events of 9/11 border security has greatly increased, including a doubling in the number of border patrol agents, out of fear that a similar terrorist attack could occur because of immigration. I think that it is possible that terrifying stories of the conditions many immigrants are fleeing may not only increase sympathy to accept immigrants, but could also make some people scared that these atrocities will somehow follow immigrants. Perhaps hearing the stories from people such as the nine year old girl in the Jorge Ramos video, who tells of having no choice but to pay war taxes or be killed, scare people to the extent that they believe it is safest to block out immigrants completely. Evidence for this can be seen in the Washington Post article by John Bargh, where a study showed that “anti-immigration attitudes are also linked directly to the underlying basic drive for physical safety.” The barrage of negative stories from the homelands of immigrants paired with the common rhetoric that more immigrants mean more crime may make some fear for their lives and lead them to oppose immigration.
Cookie Monster
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

The United States prides itself as "a land of immigrants" and a "cultural melting pot". From the early beginnings of this country, our territory had been settled (as well as by indigenous people before them) by immigrants who came here to start a new life. The Puritans, a religious minority in England fleeing persecution, were among the first immigrant groups to venture onto our shores in the mid-seventeenth century. Throughout our history, the nation has experienced periods of time when there were influxes of newcomers from all over the world, whether it be Europe, Asia, or South America. Most U.S. citizens descend from some migrant group fleeing from their homelands in search of "American prosperity" no matter our racial or cultural differences. Many of our most prominent leaders have loved ones or family members who are immigrated to this country and have worked hard to break societal barriers. Kamala D. Harris, our first black female vice president, is the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants who brought her up in the community of Berklee, CA. Joseph R. Biden, our new president, is the descendant of Irish Famine migrants who came here in seek of economic and food security. Immigration has a played an existential role in American history and this is demonstrated through our increasing levels of cultural diversity within our institutions. However, "othering" and anxiety regarding the growing presence of diverse cultural communities has led to a backlash of nativist, anti-immigrant sentiments.

The concept of "othering" has been utilized throughout our national and global history. Slavery, which involved the ownership of black people by white landowners for the purposes of labor, is an important example of this utilization because it exemplifies how this country was founded on the basis of white superiority. Black people from African nations, the "others", were constantly reminded of their so-called "inferiority" to the white folk; they were taken advantage of and abused through forced labor without pay and were even regarded in government law as three-fifths of a white person. We also see "othering" being utilized in the degradation of indigenous cultures at the hands of white newcomers. Native American communities were targeted by family separation efforts to put their children into "boarding schools" that essentially served as white washing. In order to eliminate any threat to white supremacy in the United States of America, our leaders chose to treat different communities as almost alien and barbaric and attempted to rid them from society.

One other example of the use of "othering", which Scott S. Greenberger wrote about in his 2017 Washington Post article "Cheap Slaves': Trump, immigration, and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act", is our treatment of Chinese immigrants coming here for better economic prospects. In the article, Greenberger mentions how the Workingmen's Party of California was created by Irishman Denis Kearny, who is also an immigrant, in response to the influx of Chinese workers during the California Gold Rush in the years 1848-1855. This political party grew its power throughout the country by means of its scapegoating of these Chinese newcomers as their main economic threats; this growth in power eventually led to the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which barred nearly all immigration to the US from China. Greenberger's relaying of these events illustrates how Chinese cultural differences were seen as a threat to the economic security and dominance of the white folk. Many Chinese workers were hired at lower wages, creating anxiety among white people about their own job security. Chinese culture was then depicted as inferior as a means of bolstering this fear. This utilization of "othering" in the early beginnings of our nation have come to define our societal structure and cultural norms today. The use of "othering" is still deployed by many in this country today and this is illustrated in John Bargh's 2017 Washington Post article "On Fear and its Effects on Political Views". In his experiments, Bargh noticed a striking correlation between fear and anxiety and skepticism of immigration. He deployed the messages of health insecurities and related nativist sentiments to the threat of the Flu. Through this experiment, Bargh demonstrated that America's history of cultural "othering" has led to a toxic climate in which many feared and were anxious about newcomers as a "disease" that effects society holistically.

These nativist messages have been echoed through immigration policy, especially at the US-Mexico border where primarily migrants from Central and South America enter, throughout modern governmental history. The 54 minute 2018 documentary "Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border" tells the story of these many governmental actions starting from the Obama presidency. At the beginning of Obama's first term, there was an influx of youth from Central American countries fleeing their homeland and migrating hear in response to gang-related violence. Because of this swelling of newcomers at the border, President Obama's administration ordered an increase in deportations and a more strict handling of immigration processes. In large part, this more involved crackdown on immigration was catering to increasing nativist backlash. The stereotypes of these immigrants as gang members led to messages of their cultural inferiority, and many people in the US began to see their cultural differences as a threat. The documentary also relays the events that came along with the "Zero Tolerance Policy" implemented by the Trump Administration at the border in 2018. Migrant families were separated from each other by US Customs patrol and children were put in separate detention facilities from their parents. The use of this policy is similar to that of the forceful separation of Native American families earlier in American history. Both demonstrated a fear and anxiety of growing multiculturalism, as well as the use of taking children away from their parents for assimilation and reduction of proximity to what they see as "inferior" cultures. In Andrea Mitchell's interview with Jacob Soboroff, the author of the book "Separated, on MSNBC, Soboroff mentions a conversation with Katie Miller, a former Trump Administration DHS spokesperson, in which she said that witnessing the family separations didn't make her more compassionate torwards the migrants. Katie Miller demonstrates that her fear of multiculturalism can turn into an inhuman image of different peoples. Her reaction to seeing the family separations shows that people who share her sentiments see different cultures such as those from Central and South America as a danger to humanity, rather than humanity itself.

Fruit Snacks
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 20

Fear is invalid

People oppose immigration because of prejudices. They have an ignorant notion that anything or anyone “foreign” is a risk to society in some way. One of the claims Americans would make about immigrants is that they are “stealing” jobs, which is extremely unreasonable because immigrants get the jobs no one wants and have to work 100 times harder to get the jobs that people want. People fear the new language, culture, and customs because they’re different and unknown, but it’s not a one sided street. American culture and English is also new to immigrants. There should be no fear in home base.


The fear is unreasonable. How could an American fear the people they are putting in camps and separating from their families. Just because some immigrants are being kept off of American soil doesn’t take away the responsibility from the United states. It is very hypocritical for descendants of past or present generations to be against immigration because that’s how they got to America and developed into the people they are today. The treatment of immigrants is progressively getting worse, but there’s more advancements now and technology for everyone to be given a safe haven.


Conservatives are more fearful and anxious than liberals, but in reality liberals are just more open minded. Fear and anxiety has become an excuse to belittle people, but it should never become a motive to be a bully. That's absurd. At first it was a valid excuse, but now we have the resources to remain informed and factually correct. There should be no reason for immigrants to be living in cages and getting raped by authorities. Everyone is just looking for security, but the same descendants who were on the search years ago are continuing to make life a living hell for immigrants.


If the laws haven’t changed since 2015, then why has the treatment? fear isn't a valid excuse anymore.

Noodles
West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 21

American Susceptibility and Fear Mongering

Immigration is such a controversial topic to bring up as it involves so many people’s lives. Yet there is so much fear and anxiety involved, especially within America, as many Americans are not well educated or knowledgeable about the topic and are more susceptible to the politicalization of it. Naturally, politicized topics are greatly overly dramaticized and misconstrued depending on the party and politician controlling the story. For Trump and the republican party, this would be adding a level of fear and anxiety into the topic of immigration in order to sway possible voters towards their side. As the study at Yale described by the article from John Bargh shows, fear causes people to become more conservative leaning while a feeling of safety and security leads to a more liberal leaning.


But this fear often originates from other places than politicians. As the article about Chinese immigration explains, the Chinese Exclusion Act came from the Workingman’s Party of California who blamed Chinese immigrants for the widespread unemployment. Denis Kearney spoke to the unemployed white workers, fueling their anger about being unemployed, and directed it towards Asian workers as they were shrouded in mystery to many Americans and worked as an easy scapegoat due to the racism that was already widespread.


Similarly, Trump takes the threat of unemployment and job loss that many Americans fear and blames it on illegal immigrants who, just like the Chinese immigrants, might be a mystery for some Americans who are uneducated about immigration. Yet he doesn’t stop there, as Trump had a national emergency declaration against the “invasion” of immigrants coming into the country. Through this he gained support for his wall, but also put even more fear in people that they started taking action for themselves, as the Frontline film showed a man who set up an electric fence around his property to catch illegal immigrants and report them to ICE. The sad irony and hypocrisy is that while claiming he was preventing drug dealers, rapists, and criminals into the country who would “steal American jobs,” Trump’s immigration policies were traumatizing children who were trying to flee violence and death threats that they faced in their country.


As @boricua1234 and @cherryblossom have brought up, when people (especially Americans) do not understand or are unable to relate to migrants as human beings, they develop the “us vs them” mentality and begin to classify them as others. This is particularly dangerous when a politician who is willing to kindle and abuse this fear comes into power. Just like the Palmer Raids and McCarthyism were able to avoid government accountability by playing on the people’s fears about communism during the red scares, Trump and his administration took themselves to be above the law and illegally separated children from their parents and even tried to destroy the evidence. This was only able to happen because we let ourselves play into their string of lies and become so fearful of something that we are willing to give up our rights and overlook government corruption and overreach. The only way to fix this is by not having blind faith in any one thing or person (especially politicians—not in the sense that “all politicians lie,” but rather don’t let yourself get too fixated on what they say nor use them as a primary news source). Trust, but always verify. Add to your daily news sources a variety of trustworthy news stations (not just from one party—nonpartisan ones work the best) where you can check and verify what you hear instead of becoming fearful about something you don’t have much knowledge about.

BlueWhale24
Boston , Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

Fear vs. Empathy

Immigration is, for the most part, a relatively new phenomenon. For the majority of human existence, people were confined to the area in which they were born, simply because they had no way of travelling beyond their immediate surroundings. Yet, the technological advances of the modern age have created many new avenues of travel, by land, sea, or air. In addition, the rapid effects of globalization have created an interconnected world, where foreign countries are much more accessible to potential immigrants. These unique factors have all played a role in explaining the growth of immigration over the past few centuries, as people seek to take advantage of this unique opportunity to pursue a potentially better life elsewhere.


However, conflict with immigration originates primarily from inhabitants of a host country, who are unwilling to accept newcomers. The reasoning behind this is apparent: in essence, anti-immigration sentiment is yet another form of “othering” in society. This sort of othering can take many forms: racial othering, nationality othering, economic-based othering, crime-based othering, and many more. Each one of these processes essentially boils down to a fear that an entering immigrant group will inevitably damage something which you hold dear. For a working class American, he fears that immigrants will somehow ‘steal his job’, damaging his own livelihood. For others, they might fear foreigners out of predisposed ideas that they are all criminals or terrorists that threaten their own safety. This second point is especially important, because it ties in the process of ‘othering’ with stereotyping and racial biases.


Although in theory, the United States has no pre-established national identity (besides perhaps lastovers from Great Britain) as the country itself was founded by immigrants, in practice, many Americans harbor an almost innate fear that foreigners will somehow overrun the country’s traditions and customs with foreign practices. This attitude is nothing new however: throughout history, the use of racial fear as a tool to garner support has been repeated constantly. In the era of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Denis Kearney of the Workingmen’s Party of California used such a tactic, stating ““These cheap slaves fill every place. Their dress is scant and cheap. Their food is rice from China. They hedge twenty in a room, ten by ten. They are whipped curs, abject in docility, mean, contemptible and obedient in all things.” (Washington Post - ‘Cheap Slaves’:Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act). Kearny’s statement is overarching, and establishes a stereotype with which his audience can relate to. He does it to create the “common enemy”, a group which Americans can stand against together. This practice can also be seen in the classification of Black men as rapists during the Jim Crow era, or even in modern day, when former President Trump enacted the Muslim ban, which essentially claimed that all Islamic people must have ties to terrorism somehow, lumping them all into one group and preventing said group from entering the country. Beyond just Trump, we hear politicians claiming that all Central American immigrants are low-class people or criminally-involved. Even in modern day, this sort of rhetoric is still being used to establish a “common enemy”, once again for the sake of preventing immigration. This sort of broad stereotyping, by prominent media figures no less, must stop.


Furthermore, I think that anti-immigrant sentiment stems from a lack of empathy, if not selfishness, by the people and government of our country. While this argument is subjective to one’s own opinion, I find it absolutely appalling how our own country handles deportations, especially in regard to child separations. In the Frontline documentary, I specifically remember one instance where the host was showing a man, some sort of government official involved within creating the deportation legislation, a sound clip of a small girl crying out for her mother. The man listened to the heart-breaking audio, and proceeded to look up and say calmly and emotionlessly, “tugs at the heartstrings, doesn’t it”. This represents yet another primary issue of how immigration is handled within our country. We, as the descendants of immigrants who are fortunate enough to already be in US borders, cannot ignore the challenges which current immigrants face. This lack of empathy drives people to turn a blind eye to heart-wrenching, genuine struggles which others face, as they try to escape awful circumstances by turning to the last resort of illegal immigration. Descendants of immigrants have become too accustomed to our own comforts and privileges within our country - they don’t want others to potentially take away the benefits which they’ve reaped by remaining within the country (i.e. by stealing their jobs or causing crime). It simply blows my mind how some members of our governing parties can be so apathetic towards such issues. Empathy towards these issues can’t be taught, but I wish it could be. As we recently discussed on Padlet entries, seeking asylum from violence is absolutely a human right. Even desiring to leave your own country is a right protected by the United Nations. The United States absolutely needs to do better in this regard, of protecting the human rights of those within its borders and acting with morality in spite of difficult circumstances.


On another note, I found the article regarding the Yale study of conservatives vs. liberals quite interesting. I had never stopped to consider this topic before, but after reading about the study, I think it actually makes quite a lot of sense. (Generalization Warning!) Typically, I’d say that conservatives are more likely to oppose progressive legislation, especially laws that may change the traditional hierarchy or established system within the US, while obviously liberals are far more radical in that sense. Another point that really stuck out to me in the article was the differences in which Republican vs. Democratic Presidential candidates sought to promote their campaign. Liberal-leaning Democrats were more likely to reassure the nation in light of a crisis, while conservative Republicans were more likely to use the driving factor of fear to garner support. Adding on to this, I actually hypothesize that the success of certain presidential candidates, or simply the success of a Party’s elected officials in any area of government, is a reflection of the overall attitude or mindset of the United States at the time. Periods when Democrats dominate the government are usually marked by periods of stability within the populus, appealing to people’s calm attitudes, while Republican dominated eras seem to come after a shake-up or sudden turmoil within the country, playing off of the aforementioned fear which motivates so many people to elect somebody like Trump to combat an issue such as Muslim immigration.


Fear and anxiety are the human emotions which can cause the most visceral and extreme reactions. The fear of immigrants has, for so long, led to the extreme measures of othering through xenophobia and racial attacks. However, this can be addressed through one measure: education. Fear of immigrants essentially boils down to fear of the unknown: the unknown of foreign people with strange customs, the unknown of what might happen to our jobs if immigrants come, the unknown of whether these immigrants will pose a threat to the country, etc. We all ought to strive to learn more about immigrants who come to America, instead of simply writing them off. We ought to educate everybody that jobs are not finite, but rather increase with the demand of more work. We ought to quit stereotyping and basing our opinion of a certain group of people off of assumptions or media coverage. Most importantly however, we must strive to uphold the moral standards which we all have as people. For too long, the United States has disregarded the matters of those coming into our country. We must value empathy, and respect the Declarations of Human Rights, established in the United Nations located in our very own country. As descendants of immigrants ourselves, we need to stop othering those who seek to do the same as our ancestors, and strive to let go of false fears which we’ve held for so long.


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