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