posts 1 - 15 of 29
Boston, US
Posts: 205


Scott S. Greenberger, “‘Cheap Slaves’: Trump, immigration, and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act,” Washington Post, August 3, 2017.

Scott Horsley, “5 Things to Know about Obama’s Enforcement of Immigration Laws,” National Public Radio (NPR), August 31, 2016.

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]

(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.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 24

The U.S built on land stolen by european immigrants, so why are their descendants so intolerant?

Opposition to immigration in the United States has never really been about individuals seeking a better life, it's a stance rooted in misinformation, fear-mongering and oftentimes white-supremacy. It's deeply problematic, especially when the language typically results from systematic dehumanization and “othering”, which portrays immigrants as a collective rather than individuals, and portrays them as a threat to the “true Americans''. When the multitude of ethnic backgrounds of Latin America is wrongfully called “Mexicans”, when that's only one of the 33 countries south of the border, or referred to as "illegal Aliens", there’s clearly a problem surpassing the so-called fear of immigrants.

The U.S is a country built by immigrants and if we’re gonna be honest, stolen by them as well. That's not a shock to most people but, it is surprising that these same descendants claim this land to be entirely theirs and oppose new entry. Immigration policy and its history, going back to the first immigration ban of Chinese individuals, is drawn from the fear that immigrants threaten American jobs, lives and safety. As Grenberger from the Washington Post said, “ anti-Chinese views were rooted in racism and revulsion at the newcomers’ unfamiliar customs”. This same rhetoric has been repeated for decades in conversations surrounding immigration, and saw a new rise in the Trump Era during his presidential run and time in office. He campaigned on the slogan “build the wall” and increased anti-hispanic and immigrant sentiment with fear-mongering tales of “dirty people” bringing in drugs and coming to murder and rape Americans. It’s the same idea that John Bargh got at when he said people “scapegoated minority groups as ‘germs’ or ‘bacteria’”, and it is the same message we have seen throughout history to justify regulations against certain minority groups.

I understand that the U.S can’t accept every person who wants to come to this country, but enacting policies that put families through needless trauma and embolden white-supremacists to attack fellow Americans that they believe are immigrants, is wrong in every aspect. It is pitiful and there can be no justification for it.

According to the documentary from PBS, Obama violated FLORES by keeping families together past a certain period of time, which forced him to have to release those individuals in custody. However, during Trump's administration, loopholes were found to keep children in ICE detention centers for extended amounts of time, under traumatizing conditions while their families were being prosecuted for legally seeking asylum. His administration knew that the conditions were terrible and according to MSNBC, Scott Loyd, a top official, tried to destroy evidence that proved the heinous conditions people were kept in.

I hope that one day the topic of immigration can be more tolerant and educated, and a system created that functions to serve asylum seekers and not the desires of individuals fueled by fear. The history of immigrants shouldn’t be erased, nor should they be forced to assimilate to a culture outside of their own, or a language foreign to their native one. Como dijo Carlos Fuentes, todos tenemos nuestra propia historia y nadie puede quitarla.
West Roxbury, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

Hypocrisy Among Americans

It is been known for centuries that Americans tend to discriminate against non native Americans and wanting to kick them out of this nation. All along America's history we've discriminated in past examples such as the Chinese immigration ban in 1882, and black racism with slavery and dealing with the civil war's grueling argument of whether to keep slavery or not. In today's case, examples such as Trump calling Mexicans rapists, drug dealers etc., not only give Americans a bad reputation to other nations, but also can be called out for a big case of hypocrisy as the United States was land stolen from natives in the 1700s by European immigrants.

Thinking about what compels the American descendants to discriminate against non-whites, it's very difficult to find a just reason to discriminate against other races in the U.S. Back in the 1800s, the discrimination against Asians was likely due to the war against Japan and the Chinese potentially taking jobs that were up for Americans, and according to Grenberger from the Washington Post, he said, “ anti-Chinese views were rooted in racism and revulsion at the newcomers’ unfamiliar customs.” Because of events such as the Japanese war, fear and anxiety definitely play a big part in our nations racial discrimination. Looking more at rather current events compared to the Japanese war, the event of 9/11 causes a lot of discrimination among Muslims as people fear for no reason that they carry bombs all the time which isn't true. This is also the case with African Americans or Hispanics as many Americans seen them as threats that they will do violent actions such as shoot up a place or rob a bank. This is simply not the case as not everyone is the same, and many of the people we discriminate against are actually rather peaceful. Thankfully this year, starting because of the death of George Floyd, much civil unrest has occurred to stick up for non-whites in movements such as Black Lives Matter to fight racial discrimination. Overall, I can understand a few of the reasons why some racial discrimination started such as the fear of Japanese, but I am glad that movements such as BLM started to gain huge support and hope that some day all this racial discrimination in America will end.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 11

Something I've always found interesting is psychology, specifically evolutionary psychology. It's an easy explanation for things we can't exactly understand; like why so many people are afraid of the dark. It's a leftover from the thousands of years before humans formed civilizations and instead had to rely on instinct. I think the Yale experiment provides an interesting link between those instincts and modern behaviors. Humans are pack animals and tend to prioritize themselves and whoever they see as their "pack", usually their family. If they think something could present a danger, we're hardwired to avoid it. Despite how interesting the psychology may be, it doesn't change the fact that we live in the 21st century and generally don't have any reason for base instincts like being afraid of the dark. Even though we're all aware that we're no longer wandering nomads, are our brains? Humans existed for around 300,000 years; the first civilization was around 5,000 years ago. That's not even touching the rapid globalization the world has experienced in the past 100 years alone.

I don't want my entire post to be about psychology, but I also wanted to touch on intergenerational trauma, or even just family mindsets. If your father lost his job, causing your family to fall into poverty, then blamed it on immigration, that influence of xenophobia can be difficult to erase. Difficult, but absolutely necessary. People prioritize comfort instead of change, so unless their mindsets are actively questioned, many people never think too much about it.

I don't think any of the above excuses the anti-immigration sentiment that's become so popular. Like I said above, we live in the 21st century, and have no reason to hold on to these instincts. We really don't know very much about how our brains work, so this could all be proved wrong in 10 years or so. It's just an interesting perspective about how biology fits into history.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

It was never about the jobs

Reading through these articles and watching these documentaries were so interesting, as well as heavy and saddening. I think its incredible how people can know that there are children who are escaping the threat of gang violence and murder and still refuse to have any sense of humanity or morality.

The main reason that people don’t want immigrantion, in my opinion, is fear. People are so scared to have their jobs taken away from them or their “home” and “safety” threatened that they result to being xenophobic. Just like the first Washington Post quoted in their article Trump has said multiple times that he aims to help Americans “competing for jobs against brand-new arrivals.” This, however, is not the truth. In reality, most times immigrants actually do the jobs that others don’t want to do, and they help the economy and jobs grow.

People are scared of change and of things that are new to them. Again, from the Washington Post article, “anti-Chinese views were rooted in racism and revulsion at the newcomers’ unfamiliar customs.” Anything that isn’t an accepted eurocentric tradition is frowned upon, and used as an excuse for bigotry.

I also found this quote from the NPR article had to be quite interesting, “The trend toward increased deportations began with… and accelerated after the Sept. 11 attacks, with growing budgets for the DHS agencies that enforce immigration law.” It would make sense logically to strengthen the borders after attacks like these, however the question that stays in my mind is that if most of the immigrants who come through the border are from South and Central America, what does that have to do with the 911 attacks, the attackers who came from the middle east I believe.

The most intriguing as well as surprising yet still expected piece of information was from the Yale experiment that was conducted. It had never occurred to me that safety and fear had such correlation with political affiliation. “But if they had instead just imagined being completely physically safe, the Republicans became significantly more liberal.” It’s amazing how just the feeling of safety can completely shift somebody's political stance. It makes sense however, that conservatives want to stick with the old, don’t like to try new things, which has to do with fear. This is why so many are afraid to let in immigrants, they are afraid of the new change that will come and they believe that it puts their lives and safety in danger.

Boston, Massachuesetts, US
Posts: 19

The Double Standard of Americans Today

As you very well know, this country is facing a dilemma that has shook the country to its core- right back to when it was just colonies of various European nations. That dilemma is immigration, the desire to let people into the country but safely, and how to best handle the situation. On one side, people see the struggle of the individual that risked everything in order to get a new life here in this country, on the other focusing more on the threat that entity holds (I do not use the word human on purpose- there is a sense of dehumanization). To some extent, both sides are valid, and the solution to this problem lies either in median, in a compromise between being firm and being ethical, or to a whole solution that has yet to be come up with that I couldn't imagine.

Let's take a step back however, and consider why there is such a response, especially coming from people who (majorly) are descended from immigrants themselves. The answer lies in the oldest human characteristic, response, life saving responses- fear. If you really dig into why each person behaves the way they do, it lies in the internal fears of the person themselves. If you questioned someone who does not support immigration from Mexico, or strongly believes in deportation, why they believe in this, their response will likely go as followed. "They are stealing our jobs!" "They are dangerous, drug dealers and crime lords!" These people are afraid, and being pumped with ethnically driven harmful stereotypes, to make them more afraid than they should be. This can be seen in the article written by John Baugh, in which he wrote that Conservatives respond to fear differently, this can certainly be seen here, and in a political sense. Conservatives fall victim to fear mongering, to put it simply. In reality- children crossing the border should not scare people so much. They are children fleeing from their country for a better life. The willpower, the drive, the disparity of these survivors is unmatched. Why, may I ask, would they flee their homes for any reason other than disparity and desperation? That's right- these immigrants came over in a fit of fear, in an all out attempt to make their living situations better.

Back to the initial question, there is a total superiority complex held by Americans (especially those who do not support immigration), and this implies that they feel they earned the right to be an American, that their ancestor was in every right to travel to American and steal the land of the Native people. This is the attitude quite frankly of a white supremacist, who believes that the Europeans/ early Americans deserved to come over to these new lands, to take what had belonged to the Natives. Because the Spanish people did the exact same thing, at around the exact same time- but somehow don't deserve to be able to flee once again?

Now as I saw in another post, it is important to note that it is unrealistic to expect this country to be able to undertake a massive wave of migrants, and that I understand. But at the rate they are coming right now, I do believe that lessening the expectations of becoming a citizen and allow more of these people to become hard working Americans, is very important. At the very least, the bar at its lowest point, children should not be separated from their families are traumatized for the rest of their lives. It is a cruel and disgusting act. Forcing a child to be in the conditions of a prison, for a reason they had absolutely no control over, is cruel and evil. The record keeping was done in a way to hide the cruelness of these people, done so poorly that they actually lost children, and could not find them. That, at the very least, cannot continue.

Let's look at how Trump gained supporters, and kept his supporters throughout his time of fighting for presidency, his presidency, and his fight for reelection. What do these all have in common? His use of fear-mongering as a way to control his supporters. He told his supporters that Mexican people were coming to steal their jobs, that they were disgusting, that the United States must build a wall to keep them out. By doing this, he did not create the dehumanization of immigrants, but fueled it. By looking at immigrants, people fleeing for a new future, as numbers, as job stealers, is dehumanizing beyond belief. This is not held only to Trump's administration- this was passed down to him by the Obama administration. When Obama first came into presidency, the immigration amount was at its highest (in his administration), and over the years lessened to what it was when he passed it on to Trump.

You might be thinking, "Where have I seen this before? Is this Deja Vu?" And I would have to agree, we have seen this before. Back in 1882, with the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which limited immigration from China, and which jobs Chinese people could get. Why was this Act made? Because there was a large amount of Chinese people immigrating to America, and Americans (just 106 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence) were worried about what I mentioned in the second paragraph- immigrants stealing jobs. History really does repeat itself after all. It is not over for us Americans, we can still fix our wrongdoings in deportations and the horrible treatment of people fleeing for a better chance at life. Like those immigrants were willing to risk everything in order to get a new life in America, we must risk change to make the United States back into the promising land of change that it once was- because it has lost that title, long since removed with these horrible acts of racism and lack of empathy.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

Most Of Us Are Immigrants

Those opposed to immigration in the U.S. are most likely descendants of immigrants themselves, yet fail to see through their ignorant fears of things they can’t control. Given the United States’ long history with discriminatory legislation and misinformation promoted by politicians, this anti-immigration agenda will only continue to grow rampant if we allow it to persist. Despite the fact that this nation was stolen from Indigenous peoples and established on the labor of immigrants, a great majority of white conservatives find it pertinent to “protect” what they’ve claimed as their own land.

The language used by officials often serves as an important instigator in fueling Conservative beliefs towards immigrants. Trump’s claims that the looser immigration laws have “not been fair to our people, our citizens and our workers,” contributes to the growing animosity towards immigrants. “Othering” immigrants and depicting them as a threat to American jobs and security, will indirectly promote normalized xenophobia and ignorance. As seen in the past with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, when labor was in short supply, “the Chinese were tolerated. But when the economy struggled in the 1870s, animosity against Asians grew.” (Scott S. Greenberger, ‘Cheap Slaves’) This same ideology is vitalized through modern immigration beliefs as well. Marginalized groups are often scapegoated for the U.S.’s supposed decline in job opportunities with the influx of immigrants.

According to the article from the Washington Post, an experiment conducted between Liberals and Conservatives on the basis of safety and security, showed that there is a direct linkage between the innate desire for safety and anti-immigration. Conservative leaders’ usage of the terms “germ” and “virus” contribute to this image of immigrants as entities we should prevent from “invading” and “infecting” our population. Also mentioned in the article was another study conducted to test the attitudes towards immigration after asking them if they’ve received a flu shot. It was proven that those that had received a vaccination were less threatened and expressed more positive views, whereas those that did not receive a vaccination felt more threatened and expressed more negative views. This biological connection to safety in addition to misinformation from public officials encourages the beliefs of anti-immigration. Trump’s consistent promotion of the idea that most immigrants are dangerous criminals is harmful, considering most of the people migrating from central America are seeking refuge from their dangerous circumstances. In the film Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border, we were able to see firsthand, the trauma experienced by immigrants and the sacrifices made for the sake of finding a better future. To label these people as “criminals” to further your political agenda is inherently stereotypical and discriminatory.

Perhaps a solution to readjusting this mindset towards immigration could be educating those that are ignorant to the issue. Statistically, in the 10 countries that were surveyed in this article, it was shown that, “those with higher levels of education, younger adults, and those with higher incomes are more likely to say immigrants make their countries stronger…”. Considering the U.S. is a country that has benefited off of its immigrants behind the scenes, we still have a long way to go in terms of appreciating those who built our country.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 17

Quite Ironic

Immigration has remained as a prevalent issue to many Americans today, as many are opposed to immigrants coming into “their” country. These people are merely trying to establish a better life for themselves and their families, yet continue to be constantly rejected by the United States. The reason behind these opposing sentiments is fear itself. The role that fear has as a motivator can be seen in the experiment done by John Bargh at Yale. When the participants felt protected from any harm, their views were more accepting. The study rationalized how some could hate people who just want a better future, as it showed that people feared for their security in their opposition to immigration.The constant narrative that immigrants are going to steal our jobs and induce crime stems from this fear and further feeds into the “Us v.s. Them” mentality.

I believe the reason that some descendants of past or present generations of immigrants seem to express opposition to immigration is because it’s easy for them to place the blame of problems onto the “others” that are entering “their” country. We see this in the Chinese Exclusion Act. In the “Cheap Slaves” article by the Washington post, it said 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 Californians put up with the Chinese immigrants, as long as their labor was beneficial to their society. It was only when they started fearing losing their jobs that there came to be extreme amounts of hatred and negative sentiments towards the Chinese immigrants. People in California made the Chinese immigrants into a scapegoat and placed a massive target upon their backs, resulting in the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prevented Chinese immigration to the U.S. until 1943.

Thus, It’s become a common theme to blame immigrants for social and economic issues, looking at Trump’s recent rhetoric regarding immigrants and job loss today. Americans like to ignore how the United States has failed in terms of economic issues and prefer to blame our problems on immigrants, who in their minds are the main root of our difficulties. This constant blaming is not the sole reason for anti-immigration sentiments, but rather racism and xenophobia as well. Scott Greenberger especially points this out in “Cheap slaves: Trump, Immigration, and the Ugly History of the Chinese Exclusion Act” when he notes that “the party’s anti-Chinese views were rooted in racism and revulsion at the newcomers’ unfamiliar customs”. This fear came from the unknown world of the Chinese culture and combined with racism, turned into the anti-immigrant sentiments we know today.

Overall, the whole idea of Americans opposing immigration is quite ironic . Unless we are indigenous, we’ve all technically descended from immigrants who came to the United States. We need to start dispelling this fear as it was heartbreaking to see the struggles immigrants faced in fleeing their homes. In the Frontline documentary, I found myself shocked watching the harsh journeys immigrants went through to travel to the border. The path there is quite long and strenuous and countless immigrants face death in the face on their journey there, whether it be getting on a moving train, or traveling through extreme weather conditions. Those who continue to have this fear of immigrants should start educating themselves on why these people are truly leaving their homes and not have fear be the reason for their closed minds.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

America was built by immigrants

American history tells is so closely intertwined with discrimination that discrimination itself has become an American staple. Besides Native people, everyone living in America is the descendent of some type of immigration, yet anti immigration movements have taken over the country. Mis information and poor education is what has caused the opposition to immigration. Misleading propaganda and news telling the american people that immigrants are a threat to americans directly links to anti immigration attitudes in the US. Viewing immigrants as a threat because they are fleeing unrest or danger in their home country only adds more fear for americans. Instead of empathizing with people in search of refuge and opportunity the american people have been conditioned to see immigrants as a threat to their safety and well being. As mentioned in the Washington Post article by John Bargh how fearful a person feels is a clear factor in determining their political views. News stations and politicians know how important fear is in determining political views, so they play into that fear and use it to their advantage to get the votes that they need. Opposition to immigration is a false sense of security for many Americans who have come to believe that people different from them are threatening or dangerous.

I do not think the heightened fear around immigration in America is a new thing by any means. When looking at the history of America and the attitudes around immigration, not much has changed over the years. Thinking back to the early beginnings of america only white people were allowed citizenship and everyone one else was denied basic rights, then later during an influx of Irish immigration, the new immigrants were feared and seen as less than people because they were not exactly like those who had already lived there. Next as we looked at the class the Chinese people were demonized by the media and were feared by Americans simply because they were not white. Extreme fear around asian immigration led to the Chinese Exclusion act which barred chinese immigration for a number of years. The long lasting effects of fear towards Asian’s appeared again after Pearl Harbor when the government was so quick to force thousands of Japanese people into internment camps because white america was afraid of them. Most Americans are descendants of some sort of immigration but many refuse to see that when choosing their stance against immgration. As described by Jorge Ramos in “Out of Sight and Out of Mind” immigrants seeking to move to the US have fears just like Americans, but instead of fearing a potential threat they are living through their worst fears. Having to flee you home and go to a place entirely new to you with hopes of security and opportunity is scary enough as is, but to finally make it there only to be unwelcomed and turned away is terrifying. Americans must remember how they are country was founded by immigrants and then try to put themselves in the position of immigrants before making a final stance of immigration based on hypothetical fears that have been played into by the media.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

To what extent is fear a factor?

Oppositions to immigration are often induced by fear, whether that be by the group of people or the possible result from immigration. Descendants of immigrants are able to enjoy a higher status and do not want that privilege to be disrupted. In the United States, oppositions to immigration are seen as a party issue, but in reality it is not a party issue. In John Bargh’s experiment, our views against social issues are caused by our subconscious mind and our upbringing. People that are more threatened align their views with conservative values. This is most likely why immigration policies are separated by party lines in the United States and why not every liberal or conservative has the same opinion on immigration. As mentioned in the NPR article, Obama deported more people than George W. Bush. The main difference was with the location of the migrants and the treatment of children.

One fear that people have on immigrants is the fear of losing their job or having their job taken over by immigrants. In “‘Cheap Slaves’: Trump, immigration, and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act”, it refers to how the Chinese Exclusion Act was mainly imposed due to the Chinese accepting cheap labor and taking over the jobs. Likewise as referenced in Separated: Children At the Border, Trump ran his presidential campaign on the promise that he will deport illegal aliens and give Americans back their jobs. He also called them criminals and will be disturbing the peace of the country. I believe that both of these reasons are deeply rooted in racism and the reasons are used as an excuse. Not only does one’s fear drive their opinions on immigration, the politician's who speak against immigration are able to use their platform and authority to influence the people and the general public to further induce the fear and encourage resentment towards immigrants. The loss of jobs and security induce fear in most people, which is the reason that the politicians are able to pass their policies. The loss of jobs is mainly caused by the hiring practices of companies and the need for higher profit rather than the immigrants themselves.

I found it interesting in the film Separated: Children At the Border that after the former acting director of ICE watched the video of the children begging for her parents, he still believed that what was being done to them was right. He called it enforcement of the law. The problem that I have is that the law discards the wellbeing of the migrants. Throughout the film and the video “Real America: Out of Sight, Out of Mind”, I saw how horrific the conditions the asylum seekers faced. They should not have been subjected to that kind of treatment, especially the minors, and they were all greatly affected and changed by the whole experience. In Jacob Soboroff’s book and interview, he mentioned Katie Miller stated that seeing the separations “didn’t work.” It is sad how they are not even remotely moved by hearing and seeing the separations and do not wish to change the policies.
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 17

Opposition to Immigration is Rooted in Fear

Although xenophobia is often masked in a concern for the nation’s economy or resources, when it comes down to it the primary reason why so many Americans oppose immigration is because they are afraid. As the article on the Yale experiment states, much of the reasoning behind xenophobia is rooted in fear for “physical safety” and Trump has only exacerbated this fear in recent years, playing on the fears of immigrants coming in to destroy the country and speaking of drastic tactics to keep immigrants out.

Somehow despite this fear for the physical safety of American citizens, there is no such concern for the physical safety of families and individuals fleeing hardships and/or searching for a better life, who often experience extremely difficult travel conditions as we watched in the films. We saw in “Separated: Children at the Border” how children are separated from their families. These separations are both dangerous and often traumatizing, yet reuniting children with their parents or relatives is not as big a concern as allowing American citizens, especially conservative Americans, to remain as comfortable as possible.

Much of this fear of immigration is also combined with racist beliefs which have been present for centuries and connected to the belief that immigrants will harm the nation’s economy. It goes back all the way back to the Chinese Exclusion Act, which the ‘Cheap Slaves’ article mentioned was deeply rooted in racism. The people who proposed the Chinese Exclusion Act said that they feared that the Chinese working for lower wages would continue to hurt the economy, but really they just harbored a fear and hatred for the customs of immigrants. This is not far from beliefs today, where many claim that immigrants will steal jobs and resources, but then go on to describe immigrants using negative stereotypes which they base their knowledge and fears on.

Today it is very alarming how many American citizens still cannot sympathize with immigrants coming to the U.S. for a better life, especially when we are so privileged and with the exception of indigenous peoples we are all descended from immigrants. Yet many still continue to dehumanize immigrants coming from horrible conditions, including former president Trump, who built much of his campaign around a promised wall that he claimed would keep immigrants out of America. I hope that in the future immigration will not be such a controversial topic, especially when it comes to immigrants who are seeking asylum because I believe that we have no right to say that they do not deserve the same safety and opportunity that we have in our country.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

Xenophobia today

Immigrating is very difficult and people wouldn’t do it unless they have a very good reason. The U.S. is largely composed of immigrants or their descendants.

Established members of society see newcomers as threats to their very existence. This is because of large amounts of fear-mongering. We saw this very clearly when we looked at posters from the 1800s about Asian immigration. There were caricatures of Asians that spread racist stereotypes. On the posters, there were signs that said that Asian immigrants would “steal jobs” with unskilled labor. We see similar things today where even Donald Trump maintains his belief that Mexican immigrants are “taking our jobs”. The Chinese Exclusion Act banned the immigration of Chinese workers. Donald Trump tried to build a wall to stop people coming over the Mexican Border.

John Bargh’s study on Republicans and Democrats was very interesting to read. I was surprised at the biological differences between the two. That is why many republican leaders use fear to inspire action. It shows how easily people can be manipulated into changing their views at the expense of others. People really need to understand the reasoning behind their political views. A lot of people will stay with others who act or look like them. This is another reason why immigrants face challenges across the globe.

Terrorist attacks such as 9/11 and the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing fueled a lot of anti-Muslim hate. These terrorists did not represent a whole religion and it is unfair to assume that people of the same religion act the same way. Donald Trump’s travel ban very clearly targeted predominantly Muslim countries.

Many immigrants who came to this country legally believe that because they struggled, other people should have to go through the same thing. Immigrating to the U.S.” legally takes a very long time and it is not possible if you are fleeing from danger. Many illegal immigrants come to this country because they face dangerous situations in their home country. It’s a difficult decision to make but it’s life or death and there is only one right answer.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

The Fear Factor

Opposition to immigration is often driven by fear, greed, misinformation, and discrimination. There is a fear that immigrants threaten Americans. Many politicians prey on that fear, claiming that their policies will decrease threats to Americans. For example, Trump stated that the proposal to decrease legal immigration was in order to help Americans “competing for jobs against brand-new arrivals.” Trump is backed and supported mostly by conservatives. In the article “At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions.”, John Bargh explains and proves that conservatives react more strongly to threats and are more concerned with their physical safety than liberals. It was discovered that the early life of an individual can play a significant role in determining their future political attitude. Brain imaging studies even showed that “ the fear center of the actually larger in conservatives than in liberals”. Additional studies showed that “when adult liberals experienced physical threat, their political and social attitudes became more conservative”. How does this relate to opposition to immigration? The majority of individuals who oppose immigration are conservative. This suggests that the fear factor has a large effect on immigration attitude.

By constantly portraying immigrants as threats, Americans are misinformed and uneducated. Conservative leaders have referred to “scapegoated minority groups as ‘germs’ or ‘bacteria’ that seek to invade and destroy their country from within.” They have even made statements comparing immigrants to viruses. With this in mind, another study was created at Yale in which subjects felt safer about viruses. It was expected that this would “calm their fears about immigrants”. The inverse action expected the opposite reaction. The results showed that “those who had not gotten a flu shot (feeling threatened) expressed more negative attitudes toward immigration, while those who had received the vaccination (feeling safe) had more positive attitudes about immigration.” This further proves that fear plays a significant role in immigration attitudes.

In the film Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border and the video “Real America: Out of Sight, Out of Mind”, it is very clear that the immigrants are simply seeking safety and a better life. They are not comparable to viruses, criminals, or any other type of threat. The majority of immigrants shown were children. They are misrepresented by politicians and used as scapegoats. Many Americans make no attempt to educate themselves and are completely unaware of or simply do not care about the conditions and threats that immigrants face.
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

Fear and Political Division

I do find it odd how descendants of immigrants themselves can express opposition to immigration. I mean, if you aren’t a native of the US then just “go back to your country”, right? I think that it all lies in the fact that these same descendants are fed a false narrative, prompting them to believe that somehow all immigrants from say Mexico or China are dangerous or are stealing all of the jobs from Americans. I think many of them probably overlook the fact that they aren’t natives of the US either, they are so focused on keeping all immigrants out for their “safety” or for securing their place in America. It is almost completely about fear, because logically why would someone who is born in the country have more of a right to it than a person who was born elsewhere? I think it is a sort of superiority complex, that somehow you have more of a right to something solely of the fact that you were born here and even past that, it is about maintaining power over another group of individuals because it is mainly white conservatives who oppose immigration and even people who just look like they could be from another country.

We can see this fear talked about in John Bargh’s, “At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions.” They mention how a biological difference in how people react to physical threats impacts whether or not they hold liberal or conservative values; and having a higher concern for physical safety and security makes one more likely to be conservative. I think that really goes to show how fear plays a big role in the values of conservatives, leaders among them such as Donald Trump feed into the fact that they react strongly towards threats to their safety and they use that to gain support. In Scott Horsley’s article, “5 Things to Know about Obama’s Enforcement of Immigration Laws,” you can even see how although Obama’s immigration policies were strict, they weren’t exactly advertised as a lead part of his campaign. Overall, fear is what drives us all. As you can see in the video “Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border”, immigrants often come to the US for their safety, out of fear of being hurt where they previously lived. Fear is a common thread among all people, but being exposed to false claims that cause irrational fear is dangerous, but that is exactly what conservatives in the US are doing.

Boston , MA, US
Posts: 17

Unfamiliarity may lead to fear but fear shouldn’t lead to hate

Fear motivates people to be opposed to immigration, especially when politicians like Trump fuel fears of immigrants being criminals who are “roaming free” and pouring through the border uncontrollably. Trump’s border wall, which is a physical symbol of fear and the need to keep people out, is intimidating and also contributes to fear of immigrants. John Bargh writes in the Washington Post article: “President Trump and other Republican politicians are instead likely to emphasize the dangers of terrorism and immigration, relying on fear as a motivator to gain votes.” Leaders seeking to manipulate their audiences into being against immigration, have also played into peoples’ fears of immigrants coming to invade or destroy the country, which Bargh also mentions. We saw this too in the anti-Asian images about “Chinese invasion” and accusing Chinese immigrants of seeking to destroy white civilization. Scott Greenberger writes for the Washington Post, “‘A bloated aristocracy has sent to China — the greatest and oldest despotism in the world — for a cheap working slave,’ Kearney proclaimed in 1878. ‘It rakes the slums of Asia to find the meanest slave on earth — the Chinese coolie — and imports him here to meet the free American in the labor market, and still further widen the breach between the rich and the poor.’” This is an example of how Kearney used fear tactics to capitalize on white people’s existing anxieties about the rich and poor in America. He positioned Chinese workers as a threat to white labor, and as a tool being used by the rich to widen the wealth gap. These “fears” stoked the fire of anti-Chinese sentiment and led to the entire outlawing of Chinese immigration, as well as violence towards Chinese people in America. Unfamiliarity may lead to fear but fear shouldn’t lead to hate.

But a main motivation for people to oppose immigration, and for descendants of immigrants even, is plainly racism, intolerance, a lack of humanity, lack of empathy, and the inability to understand how people unlike oneself are suffering. People opposed to immigration in the US are generally, and I am making an assumption here but it seems to be true, are not opposed to the immigration of white people, or people of European descent. They seem to be only opposed to the immigration of people of color, from South and Central America, from Africa, from Asia, from the Middle East.That is clearly racism.

Another large part is that some Americans lack empathy and the ability to understand other people’s sufferings. They cannot put themselves in other people’s shoes. This quote from the PBS documentary from one of the women who was held in a detention facility, separated from her child, is a first-hand experience of this lack of understanding: “When I was in Eloy, I said I didn’t want to be in this country because the people were so close-minded. In the detention center, they made us feel like we had to reason to be here. They said, ‘Why did you come to this country where no one wants you?’” Whoever said this to her obviously lacks any sort of empathy for her. She was trying to escape violence and provide safety for herself and her daughter, and on top of that migrating to the US is extremely hard. This person failed to recognize even an ounce of her struggle and instead met her with intolerance. In the third video, the little girl Genesis says "Why did we flee our country? Back home, they sell cocaine to children at schools. We have to pay a ‘war tax’. If we do not pay, they will kill us". Many of the migrants who attempt to come to America are fleeing violence and come to the US hoping for safety, yet they are met with this.

In the PBS documentary, Thomas Homan said in response to the tape of the girl crying at being separated from her family: “I’ve heard many children cry in my 34 years”. This not only reveals the atrocities of the US immigration system, but also his personal lack of empathy for those suffering at the hands of this system. From the MSNBC video, a quote from Katie Miller “My family and colleagues told me that when I have kids I’ll think about the separations differently. But I don’t think so...DHS sent me to the border to see the separations for myself -- to try to make me more compassionate -- but it didn’t work.” “I believe if you come to America you should assimilate. Why do we need to have ‘Little Havana’?”. This quote reveals an utter lack of humanity and a failure to even try to have empathy. She says outright that she had no compassion for the families being separated. The second half of this quote is similar to President Theodore Roosevelt’s quote from the prompt about immigrants needing to assimilate, and there only being room for one nationality in America. Personally, I always thought America was supposed to be a “melting pot” where cultures blended, not where everyone was forced to be the same.

@JGV makes a very good point that America was “if we’re gonna be honest, stolen by [immigrants] as well. That's not a shock to most people but, it is surprising that these same descendants claim this land to be entirely theirs and oppose new entry.” I agree that this is total hypocrisy. Many people who oppose immigration today are 1.descendants of immigrants themselves and 2.some are descendants of immigrants who took land that was not rightfully theirs.

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