posts 1 - 15 of 25
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.


berry
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

Fear and lack of knowledge

I think that as Americans we sometimes forget our past, or haven’t even learned it at all because we fail to acknowledge it. We live on stolen land originally belonging to Native Americans. We steal bits and pieces from other cultures and claim it as our own, when in fact we don’t have our own culture. I think this is why people fear immigrants coming from different countries and backgrounds. They think everything is going to change.

I often hear “they’re going to steal our jobs”, and usually it comes from people who already have jobs. If an immigrant gets the job and you don’t, that means you weren’t as qualified as they were. It’s more of a reflection on you than them. In the Washington Post article, “‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act”, Trump said he was “slash(ing) legal immigration” because it hasn’t been fair to the American people. I think that he is a major contributor to the negative connotation of immigrants for the last number of years. He has been enforcing this idea that immigration is bad for us and the country. In reality, immigrants contribute a large part to the economy. They provide more jobs and take jobs that are in high demand. Trump also refers to illegal immigrants as “criminals”, which also makes people fearful of them. He constantly makes the argument that illegal immigrants are related to a higher rate of crime. According to the Department of Public Safety, “The arrest rate for illegal immigrants was 40 percent below that of native-born Americans.”.

People are either oblivious or choose to be ignorant to the problems at the border and immigration detention centers. In the MSNBC interview video with Jacob Soboroff, it's mentioned that after two years, families are still battling with separation between children and their parents. Another issue is government officials, such as Katie Miller, who despite having children of her own, chooses to not care about the children being separated from their parents. Also Scott Llyod, who attempted to get rid of a leaked list of children and the linkage to their parents. Getting rid of that list could’ve caused thousands of children to never be reunited with their families.

I think that if more people knew what was happening at the border then they would feel more compassionately for immigrant families. Unless, those people choose to ignore what’s happening, maybe because they’re being brainwashed, by certain political officials, that they have something to lose if there’s more immigrants. Overall, I think more people need to be educated about the issues at immigration detention centers, and informed about ACTUAL statistics about immigrants/immigration (not the ones made up by certain people to try to persuade people a certain way) to avoid misconceptions and untrue sterotypes.

plaidplatypus
Boston, Ma, US
Posts: 18

fear based anti-immigration rhetoric

I think that the fear of immigration is largely based in political rhetoric, rather than an actual fear of immigrants. Conservatives have learned to harness the fear of danger and the unknown to get votes, rather than helping to humanize immigrants that need help. The article by John Bargh from the Washington Post says that conservative people become more liberal when not afraid, which is why conservatives are always stoking fear with anti-immigrant propaganda. Trump campaigned by calling immigrants murders and rapists, using fear to get elected. The videos we watched showed the horrifying experiences that immigrants coming from the southern border have to face, but instead of acknowledging this, politicians still continue to hide behind 200 years of anti-immigration rhetoric.

In Scott Greenberger’s Washington Post, he relates modern day anti-immigration sentiment to the sentiment surrounding the Chinese exclusion act. It’s kinda crazy how similar the Chinese exclusion act is to what Trump wanted to do, which really shows how little society has progressed in the past 150 years. Politicians are using the same rhetoric and it still works. Educating people better about the history of immigration and the actual facts would help people destigmatize immigration. History around immigration keeps repeating itself because we don’t learn about it. We need to acknowledge the mistakes the US has made in past immigration policies and learn to reopen the country to people in need.

dewdropdoll
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

Fear and Superiority

Fear seems like a strong factor as to why there is such a massive opposition to immigration, even among those who are descendants of past or present generations of immigrants. It seems as though they forget that everyone, except indigenous groups, were once immigrants to this country, and also had to leave their home to start a new life and find new jobs in this foreign land. Yet, this fear of people “taking” or “competing” for jobs because of new immigrants coming into this country causes those who have settled here for generations to suddenly forget that their families had once been in the same situation. The experiment that John Bargh conducted to turn conservatives into liberals is a particularly interesting study that relates fear to political stances— the findings were that those who had higher fear levels or experienced physical threat would in turn hold more conservative values, but by having them believe they were physically safe, they significantly became more liberal. The article also talked about the word choices of political leaders, namely Trump, referring to minority groups as “disgusting” or “germs'', and by comparing immigrants to germs invading a human body, it invokes a natural fear in many people. And this somewhat ties into what most conservatives would feel about immigration— that immigrants should not be coming into the country, and that they are “taking over the country” like diseases would a body.


However, I feel like there is more to it than fear, and really it is also this sense of superiority among white people. There is a clear race factor and the idea of an “us” vs. “them”, them referring to anybody who does not fit into the description of an American— white. This was made clear with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1822, which banned Chinese men from entering America and denied citizenship to those already here. In the Washington Post article by Scott S. Greenberger, it talks about an Irish immigrant named Denis Kearney who came here and built a successful business in hauling goods by wagon, but later founded a party that was anti-Chinese due to high unemployment. Suddenly, Chinese people were “taking” the jobs of the so-called Americans, when Kearney, himself, was an immigrant. White people did not claim other white people were taking their jobs, but rather a group of people who did not look nor act like them. We see here not just fear of losing jobs, but also fear that they will lose their superiority over what they claim to be are the “others”. And this is exactly what we see happening today, and in the Frontline film that we watched. These people involved know about these things going on, and they can acknowledge that what they’re doing is “heart-wrenching” or “tugs at the heartstrings” as Thomas Homan puts it. Yet, they claim that what they’re doing is justified by comparing the separation of families to the same procedures that happen when American citizens are arrested. There is really no reason to separate children and even babies from their families or parents, except to show off that the only group that is superior and in control of everything are white people. Perhaps this also ties into the fear factor that I mentioned previously, that they feel threatened due to the unfamiliarity of different cultures and languages (which is ironic considering how they want immigrants to assimilate into "American culture" and speak only English-- something that is foreign to those coming to America).

SleezMoth
boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

Many Walls Against Immigrants

The big motivator for the average citizen of America to not support immigration in America is fear of the unknown. There are many that instill this fear with purpose such as politicians that would lose power and support the more percent of the population was immigrants. There is a sense of entitlement that many anti-immigrant individuals hold for the boarders of our country. They can not look past the fact that "these people are coming into my space" onto the fact that they are coming in hopes of an improved life. A strategy former president Donald Trump had used when he was running for office and immigration became an issue was to dehumanize the immigrants by saying they were not in fact coming to America for a better life, rather to spread terror, violence, and drugs, disregarding any positive outcome that could come from letting immigrants in. The clear reality is that immigrants are an easy target to attack and gain support from many fearful citizens or politicians because of the lack of education on the issues that occur in the countries the immigrants come from.

All Americans besides the Native Americans that were here before the white Europeans arrived, can be traced back to a generation of immigrants. The difference is how recently they have come over and of course, skin color. The Irish were formally a smaller group and discriminated against, but they have had a much easier time integrating into American culture because of the color of their skin. Skin color gives a physical difference between the ones in power and the ones attempting to enter the country that has been hard for many Americans to look past. Individuals that would have been discriminated against previously now have the security and hold in America's population to be against immigration because they look at themselves as Americans and newcomers as aliens.

slothman
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

Fear, just fear

I was looking at little snippets of the other people's responses to this question. And one statement that I thought about and clearly other people did as well is, we Americans seem to be oblivious to our past. If we are being technical, we stole land from other people, and Americans seem to know this and ignore it, or just uneducated and therefore know no better. America is also, in my opinion, built off tons of small or large cultures. Depending on where you go, you are bound to find all different types of cultures, such as the north vs. south, or even Charlestown compared to the North End. We are constantly surrounded by different and versatile cultures, yet Americans seem to fear immigrants. Maybe they think that when other people come, they will make one of the cultures far more dominant than the rest, taking away the "Americanism" of it all.

And the thing is, though immigration has been an issue for a very long time, it is still far from over, as shown in the MSNBC article. People like Katie Millier and Scott Llyod pave the way of fear and disruption into having children and parents be together. Even in the article, it stated how even after two years families are still fighting the separation between them.

There are also jobs, which if that's your reason to be upset, then that's your fault. America has a heck of a lot of jobs, varying from garbage man to brain surgeon, so the lack of jobs is not always a thing in this day in age, especially with the internet now being a huge opening for jobs as well. If an immigrant gets a job instead of you, clearly they were better certified for it. When it comes to who has contributed to this negative connotation of immigration, I turn to Trump. In the article "'Cheap Slaves': Trump, immigration, and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act" you really get the feeling that he is against these things. He uses the word "criminal" for illegal immigrants, inflicting fear upon them. Overall he demonstrates the idea of how immigrants are bad, how they will take our jobs, and take our money. When in actuality, a large part of the economy is run by immigrants.

All in all, people need to be better educated on what is actually happening at borders, and if they were, they wouldn't carry the harsh and unnecessary opinions considering immigrants. Things like honest stats and reading narratives from actual immigrants trying to have their families in America could change minds.

cabbage
Boston , MA, US
Posts: 16

Fear

Fear of the unknown seems to be a big factor as to why some American’s are so opposed to immigration. Most immigrants come to the U.S in hopes of improving their life, but those opposed feel entitled to what they see as “theirs'' despite being descendents of people who were once immigrants themselves. They feel threatened by immigrants because they are not educated enough about what is going on at the border and the many different cultures around the world. The Chinese exclusion act can be compared to modern anti imigration laws because people have not gotten over their fear of immigrants or learned from their past.

Junior
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

Shock and horror as the country that was founded by racists continues to have issues with race.

It felt like every single day during and before the Trump presidency there would be an article trying to answer the question of why so many people supported right wing, racist policies. A lot of the more centrist folks blamed it on leftists being meanies and scaring away literal neo-Nazis, and a lot of democrats went with the take that these people had actual, genuine issues that were not inextricably linked with racism and xenophobia. I recall one person trying to convince me that Trump supporters were not all racists because some of them may have supported Trump for solely economic reasons. I myself am still confused how supporting a racist who advocated and signed off on racist policies doesn't make you a racist, but I decided to agree to disagree because I had to go.
If I have to hear one more "both sides" argument I'm going to go feral, and probably live in the woods catching squirrels for dinner.

Xenophobia in America is not an overly complex or unexpected thing, in fact it's practically what this country was founded on.
America is a country that was founded by Puritanical, colonizing, misogynistic, white supremacist settlers. At least the colonies were, for the official founders of the country you can add rich, slave owning and militant to those. This legacy is baked into every single facet of American culture.
Let me repeat that. The beliefs of this countries founders, the white, straight, cis men is still alive in every part of American culture. So, when a woman, a BIPOC, a gay or trans person, or even all 4 of those things, makes a political statement, that statement is influenced by our founders.
So, with that in mind, is it a surprise that there is xenophobia in a country that reveres and idolizes a bunch of slave owning racists? We are a country that annihilated and crushed the native peoples and cultures that were here. We lambed and slaughtered the indigenous identity, taking a wide expanse of countless cultures and languages, and created a predominantly white and English speaking country. Nationalists all over the world in countries that aren't American can speak of our effect on cultures. American culture is to many things a monster that consumes and assimilates. America's greatest legacy is the genocide of the native cultures, and that is a legacy that we can not wash our hands of.

So when you ask why Americans refuse to take immigrants while standing over land that is drenched in the blood of violent, brutal conquest, maybe consider that there is something deeply wrong with the culture? Maybe the reverence of violent slave owners is having harmful effects on the American psyche?
Who knows, I guess we need some more calls for people to stop being so mean to Nazis. Maybe the LGBTQ community needs to be more accepting of people who beat and murder them. Maybe we need to all calm down and give more concessions to the far right in hopes that they'll just mellow out.

fignewton11
Boston, MA
Posts: 20

Their House Is On Fire

Our country prides itself on being a “melting pot”: people with diverse cultures and backgrounds all blend together to create our own unique culture. People love to praise American diversity, but seem to forget this would not be possible. America was founded by stealing land from the indigenous people that were here long before Christopher Columbus or any other white man. Many Americans now, however, see immigrants as some sort of threat. Whether it be a claim that they are all “rapists'' or “terrorists,” or the threat of losing a job to an immigrant, people try to force them out in an attempt to protect America. These people forget that more likely than not, they are descendants of immigrants. Had America been as cold and unwelcoming to their ancestors as people are now, most American people would not be here. Seeking refuge because one’s country isn’t safe is not a crime, and it is not something people should be punished for. White immigrants coming here centuries ago is no different than immigrants coming across America’s southern border today.


I think many people’s opposition to immigration stems from the rhetoric they hear from politicians. Mainly conservative politicians harness people’s fear of danger and the unknown and use it for their own gain. All it takes from these politicians is the threat of violence, or job insecurity, or a hurt economy, and people begin to panic. People become afraid of what supposed harm more immigrants could cause, and “politicians...attempt to manipulate our votes and party allegiances by appealing to these potent feelings of fear and of safety.” (John Bargh). Politicians stoke people’s fear and perpetuate the idea that immigrants will create insecurity. People jump to oppose any immigration because they are afraid, forgetting that their ancestors too fled from danger or for a better life. It’s much easier for a lot of people to live with the privilege of being born here (despite their ancestors’ immigration), than to help those seeking refuge. I think some people let this fear overcome them, not stopping to think about the realities of it. People blindly listen to the claims of politicians without questioning the truth behind their statements. As John Bargh said, “Instead of allowing our strings to be pulled so easily by others, we can become more conscious of what drives us and work harder to base our opinions on factual knowledge about the issues.” People need to see immigration (and every other issue) from their own perspective, rather than one that has been distorted by politicians because they know fear will give them votes. People’s fear stems from what they hear about immigrants in politics and media, and until politicians stop using people’s fear for their own gain, this cycle will not end.


Another huge reason for people’s opposition to immigration is xenophobia. This also has ties to political rhetoric, as we’ve seen through Donald Trump’s repeated offensive language about immigrants. Regardless of political rhetoric, though, the idea of “othering” that we’ve discussed in this class plays a huge role in the opposition to immigration. People single out and discriminate immigrants based on race, language, nationality, or any number of things, and the sadly large number of racists and white supremacists in America want no part in helping other people. People use immigrants as scapegoats for economic or any number of issues, and as Greenberger says, “There is a racially charged history to the idea that immigrant workers depress American wages.” Beginning with the Chinese Exclusion Act and until present, we blame immigrants for a plethora of issues, rather than understanding their circumstances. Immigrants don’t come to the United States because they want to “take our jobs,” they come largely because they are desperate. As the films said, “If your house is on fire, you are going to find a way to get out.” The immigrants’ “houses” are on fire: their living conditions are unsafe and they need to get out. People need to think for themselves, rather than letting fear get to them. People’s “houses” are on fire, and chances are our ancestors’ were once too.


SwedishFish
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 24

It seems to me that there is an extreme bias against all immigrants who enter the U.S. ever since the 1800’s. Now immigration was not a “new” thing in the 1800’s but ever since there was an economic boom in California due to mining, fear grew as more immigrants came to America. They were seen as “viruses”, people who would “steal American jobs”. The immigrant population at the time was predominantly Chinese, there which sparked a “racially charged history to the idea that immigrant workers depress American wages, an argument that led to the country’s first immigration restriction law:.”(‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act’). Americans at the time, and still to this day felt threatened by anyone who does not conform to the picture of a straight white male. Americans did not understand the culture, they scrutinized them, called them racial slurs, etc “the party's anti-Chinese views were rooted in racism and revulsion at the newcomers’ unfamiliar customs.” (‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act). In result, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882. And was not repealed until 1943, “After a failed attempt to override the veto, Congress approved a revised version of the law. It cut the restriction period to 10 years, but included all of the other provisions Arthur had denounced so eloquently just a few weeks before. Nevertheless, Arthur signed it. For the next 61 years, until the law was repealed in 1943, nearly all Chinese immigration to the United States ceased.”(‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act). It is disheartening to know that it took 61 years to repeal such an act, why so long?


As I stated above, Americans (non-foreign born) have felt threatened by immigrants, there is a factor of fear that plays a large role in the anti-immigrant movement. From a Yale study it has been apparent that, “Brain imaging studies have even shown that the fear center of the brain, the amygdala, is actually larger in conservatives than in liberals. And many other laboratory studies have found that when adult liberals experienced physical threat, their political and social attitudes became more conservative (temporarily, of course).”(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.) When I see videos or articles online talking about immigration, it is almost always a republican or conservative that is extremely against it. Thomas Homman who was the Acting Director of ICE, completely disregarded the cries of young children being held in changes at the border and separated from the families. This issue however, happens on both sides of the political spectrum. As former President Barack Obama, “oversaw more deportations than George W. Bush did, just as Bush oversaw more than Bill Clinton did. The trend toward increased deportations began with the 1996 passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act and accelerated after the Sept. 11 attacks, with growing budgets for the DHS agencies that enforce immigration law.”(5 Things To Know About Obama's Enforcement Of Immigration Laws) Fear, it is the common theme in all of these articles. Fear that immigrants will increase terrorism. Fear that immigrants will steal jobs. Fear that immigrants will spread disease. Immigrants are often seen as germs, “arch-conservative leaders have often referred to scapegoated minority groups as “germs” or “bacteria” that seek to invade and destroy their country from within.” (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.) Immigrants are seen as a risk to survival/ a burden, in the eyes of 34% percent of the United States population.

Why so many Americans continue to close the door to immigrants is something I will never understand. As the daughter of an immigrant it is sickening to see such substantial numbers of U.S citizens see someone like my mom as a burden. The stigma and racial bias that immigrants are a problem must be abolished. We cannot continue as a “free” country if we continue to close our gates to those who seek freedom.
Heyo8
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 18

Immigrants=People

We should all acknowledge the existence of push and pull factors. Many Americans, as seems to be our nature, are selfish and self-centered. We do not see the push factors of why people come to our country and only focus on ourselves and the problems we have with immigrants coming here. Push factors force people out but our country is the pull factor. We should be happy people still want to come here even with the outrageous stereotypes other countries in the world have of us. We should be proud that our nation’s reputation of being a democratic, free nation, and a land of opportunities still stands. We must also acknowledge our past. Our failure to educate or recognize the fact that we all came from immigrants (except Native Americans) is the most ignorant mindset many Americans have. Our sympathies should be with the immigrants not against them. Trump’s presidency exaggerated issues along our border and publicly advocated negative stereotypes. This caused many uneducated Americans to push for laws that they believed protected their jobs and land. These hurt immigrants coming into the country. As shown by the videos, until shown otherwise, many Americans viewed immigrants from South America as problems with no face. Then, when videos came out of what they were pushing for caused such as separation of families and horrible treatment, they pushed back. This is a prime example of something that could easily be avoided if people educated themselves. Instead, information is being taken from biased sources that don’t provide information but instead make the decision for you, such as Donald Trump’s mouth. These stereotypes he pushed out caused fear and anxiety and Americans forgot that people south of an imaginary border were actually people, too. We must have sympathy and we must educate ourselves as a country. We should make our own conclusions. Only then will problems be solved in a more humane way.
therapeuticsoup
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

Fear to Control The Masses

I think we all know what a superiority complex is - somebody putting themselves on a higher pedestal than others because they're insecure and feel inferior. During the gold rush of the mid 1800s, people from Asia began immigrating to America, and many Americans were outraged because they were “stealing jobs”. These immigrants worked harder for less pay, so businesses would prioritize them over Americans. The Americans wanted to blame somebody else for their own problems, so they turned to these immigrants and created laws which limited how much they could make, where they could live, and overall limit their everyday lives. Lots of racism stemmed from this time in America, but even today the same thing is happening. Defensive behavior over jobs and way of life are a trend seen throughout American history. The Washington Post stated “President Trump said he aimed to help Americans ‘competing for jobs against brand-new arrivals’”, these “new arrivals” being immigrants from Mexico. People in higher power easily use fear to control the masses, turning certain groups of people against others. A study had been done at Yale where conservatives and liberals were tested to be overly safe/cautious. They found that a person's political views can easily be switched when under threat/ altering how physically safe they feel. Conservatives were noted to be far more concerned on physical security than liberals. Instilling fear upon people makes them easier to control because they are now worried about their safety. The study stated how “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.” A range of factors such as being influenced throughout day to day life by higher powers and being told to hate a group of people out of fear for losing your job are reasons why Americans today still express opposition to immigrants.

softballgirl18
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 16

fear

Like someone mentioned, as Americans i think we collectively forget sometimes that this country was built on immigrants. Almost everyone is a descendent of an immigrant and people seriously tend to forget that. I think they also forget that we live on stolen land. When Columbus and the pilgrims and all the English came to america hundreds of years ago, they forced the natives out.

It seems like fear is a common theme among my classmates posts, mainly speaking about how people are fearful of immigrants “taking their jobs”.

The experiment run by John Bargh shows how people who had more to fear turned to mainly conservative ideals, but once they had the idea of safety they had more liberal thoughts. I found this interesting and shows how our society really is. The reading also mentioned some quotes from conservatives such as former president Trump, such as “For centuries, arch-conservative leaders have often referred to scapegoated minority groups as “germs” or “bacteria” that seek to invade and destroy their country from within. President Trump is an acknowledged germaphobe, and he has a penchant for describing people — not only immigrants but political opponents and former Miss Universe contestants — as “disgusting.””.


gibby
Posts: 21

Fear

The main reason that people oppose immigration in the United States is fear. Many people have an unfounded opinion that immigrants coming into the United States are somehow taking our jobs, bringing crime and drugs, and "taking over" our culture. These myths are largely based on the fear that these people are feeling. Most of all, I think they are afraid of change. They want things to stay exactly as they are, and anything that proposes changes or introduces new people and cultures into our country scares them (fitting for the term "conservative"). During the documentary from Frontline, we saw many anti-immigration protestors say something along the lines of "it doesn't matter what the situation is, it's still illegal". These kind of statements truly struck me, because it simply shows how little compassion and empathy these people are willing to show. The immigrants seeking asylum are not people seeking to take our jobs, or take over our country, or really anything that these anti-immigration protestors are afraid of. These people are just trying to get by. The United States prides itself over its idea of the freedom of pursuit of happiness for every person on earth, yet denies this same right to people who are simply fleeing violence and seeking refuge against the United States. This is simply hypocritical. In addition to this, these people are simply ignorant. They do not understand the problem whatsoever, and have simplified it to "us" and "them", which as we know, is a very dangerous state of mind. I believe (and hope) that if these people had a better understanding of what these refugees have been through, they would be more compassionate.

So we are still left with the question: why are these people so afraid, and what are they afraid of? As mentioned above, my theory is that they fear anything that is new or unknown to them. They have a single outlook on life, and refuse to stray in any way, shape or form from this single view of how life should be lived. So, in reality, they fear something that simply will not happen to them. In fact, the majority of people in the United States will be largely unaffected by granting these refugees asylum here. And so this brings us back to the idea of "othering" and "scapegoating" in society.

In addition to this, many of these anti-immigration people have a rather skewed version of immigration itself. Many of these people (in fact, every single one except for indigenous people) are descendants of immigrants. There is an intense and scary rising sense of nationalism in the United States that carries an idea of "our country" and everyone outside of it being "them". This contributes to some of the anti-immigration sentiments heard across the United States; yet the idea itself is simply hypocritical. This is not and never was "our" country. We live on stolen land, stolen by the very methods which these anti-immigrationists fear today. However, the immigrants seeking asylum are not going to commit genocide or "steal our land", they are fleeing violence and simply seek a safe and secure home.

Over the past week or so, these was a collective sigh of relief throughout America as Joe Biden took office, promising immigration reform and repeal of the awful policies that have been invoked by Donald Trump over the past four years. However, I think it is important that this the bare minimum. Stepping away from the closed-minded and horrific immigration views of Donald Trump must be only the first step of many that we take to improve immigration. We seem to have a false sense that this immigration problem started when Donald Trump took office, but it actually has been going on long before that. The Obama administration, while better than Donald Trump, was still significantly sub-par in terms of immigration reform. In fact, deportations actually went up during the first three years of the Obama administration. So, we must be better than ever before, because there has never been a precedent for what we need to do.

Another thing that needs to be addressed is the notion that "immigrants are taking our jobs". This false in a number of ways. First of all, immigrants are actually the backbone of our society, making up a large portion of the essential workforce (and thus have been hit harder by COVID-19). And second, immigrant workers are not taking our jobs; in fact they are actually being exploited by large corporations for cheap labor. Corporations can pay immigrants way under minimum wage under threat of deportation and reporting them to ICE. If anyone is the victim of jobs being taken by immigrants, it is actually the immigrants themselves, dispelling the myth that Donald Trump likes to spew about immigrants taking our jobs, mentioned in one of the articles.

Ultimately, I believe that no one fleeing violence or oppression should be denied refuge in the United States. It is immoral to turn away people who have made a long and dangerous journey, fleeing violence. These next four years have to be unprecedented in terms of immigration reform.

UnrecognizableUsername
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

Aren't most of us immigrants?

Unfortunately, Americans are shutting their doors to many immigrants who are searching for better and safer lives. They oppose refugees because they are frightened by statements like “they’re going to steal our jobs”. This is seen in the Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border, where Trump says at a press conference that immigrants will do horrible things to the American people such as “steal their jobs” and “destroy our country”. It’s almost as if Donald Trump is labeling immigrants as criminals. Similarly, it relates to how the Chinese Exclusion Act was enforced practically because the Chinese welcomed cheap labor and took over the positions in Scott S. Greenberger’s “Cheap Slaves.” Most Americans, even though they are treated horribly, have little or no empathy for immigrants. The John Bargh article revealed that people commonly equate disease with immigrants because immigrants are frequently referred to as disgusting bacteria and addressed that keeping themselves and their families healthy is the number one concern of any human being. Therefore, if immigrants are seen as a disease, they would be seen as a danger to others’ welfare. In addition to this, In a Washington Post article, a report showed that conservatives behave more strongly than liberals under physical danger conditions. This real safety motive from many Trump supporters and anti-immigrant individuals created the idea of immigrants being viruses, which gave them what they thought was a reason to be racist. Immigrants being classified as diseases gave rise to the concern that immigrant communities will harm American employment. Finally, I believe that asylum in the United States can not be denied to those escaping persecution or injustice; it is simply unethical to drive away people.

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