posts 1 - 15 of 32
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, MA, US
Posts: 27

More Than Fear

After reading about the experiment done by John Bargh at Yale, it is clear to me that fear motivates people who are already in the United States to oppose immigration. The fact that once participants imagined being completely safe and invulnerable to any harm, they tended to be more liberal in their views proves that it is a question of security that determines whether or not they oppose immigration. I have often heard that fear is one of the strongest emotions people can feel. Therefore, it makes sense that that fear will overpower any empathy people experience from being descended from immigrants themselves.

But that fear is not an excuse for some of the appalling and disgusting actions that people have committed in so called defense of our country. There is no rational explanation as to why a man, like Mike Vickers, who was mentioned in the Frontline documentary, would keep trophies of the dead bodies he finds on his property of immigrants seeking a better life. I had to look away when I saw him pull out the laminated, blown-up pictures of which he seemed proud. As I heard him speak about setting up electric fences that would make immigrants’ “eyes roll back a little bit,” I found myself wondering how anyone could be so heartless. The only possible reason I could think of was an extreme, deep-rooted fear, and even that is being generous.

However, I also believe some of that opposition is a conscious choice. We saw in the interview with Jacob Soboroff that government officials working on immigration policy like Katie Miller were consciously choosing to be callous about immigrants’ situations at the border. She openly admitted that DHS sent her to the border to make her more compassionate and it didn’t work. That feeling doesn’t come out of thin air. She saw firsthand the struggles that immigrants had to go through and the circumstances that caused them to flee their countries, and still couldn’t find a shred of understanding for them.

Furthermore, the agents that worked with Maybelin when she was in the Arizona detention center had to know what they were doing was wrong when they looked at that tiny child begging for her father and told her sorry, out of luck. You must be completely devoid of humanity to tell a six-year old who is alone in a foreign country without her dad that you’re going to ignore her if she cries. There is no way that it is not a conscious choice to behave in that manner.

It also doesn’t help that politicians like Donald Trump fan the flames of anti-immigration sentiment, and encourage that fear by comparing immigrants to viruses. Like Scott Greenberger discusses in his article, “Cheap Slaves: Trump, immigration, and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act,” spewing racist rhetoric such as all immigrants are criminals and coming to steal American jobs is what prompted the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to be enacted. Those kinds of lies coming from someone in such a position of power influence public opinion and in turn, legislation, as shown by how Denis Kearney’s propaganda about Asian immigrants built support for the Chinese Exclusion Act and pressured Congress to approve it.

Though fear may be difficult to combat, hopefully with the transfer of power to someone who recognizes that serious immigration reform is needed and who won’t spout lies about immigrants, progress will be made. Biden already introduced a plan that allocated $4 billion to reduce factors in Central America driving immigration like violence. Despite the fact that some people may be hard-set in their ways, his acknowledgement that immigrants seeking a better life are not “villains” who have come solely to take our resources is already a step in the right direction.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 28

We are a country of immigrants, why don't we act like it?

I believe a few things can motivate people to oppose immigration. First, it could be because of public opinion. Throughout history, it has been a prevailing factor in our society to hate immigrants, even though all of us in some way are immigrants. We have this notion in our heads that the jobs in America are “ours” and immigrants are “stealing” them. This notion started in the late 1800s with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. People of the working class were afraid their jobs were going to be taken by Chinese immigrants because they would work for less money and in worse conditions. But these thoughts were just deep-rooted racism. As the article in the Washington Post says, “But the party’s anti-Chinese views were rooted in racism and revulsion at the newcomers’ unfamiliar customs.” That same act wasn’t repealed until 1943, 61 years later. Even into the 2000s, this sentiment has continued. At the beginning of the Obama administration, deportation was up, topping at 400,000 in 2012, as said in the NPR article. Even though those numbers did decline over the coming years they went right back up with the Trump administration.

The Trump administration has been at the forefront of anti-immigration. Trump coined the phrase, “Build the Wall” during his 2016 campaign. In the Frontline documentary, we learned that even before he was elected president, Trump went to Southern California to look at different types of walls they could build to stop immigrants from coming to America. Also in the Frontline documentary, we are shown the horrific images of children being separated from their parents in detention centers, which they called the “ice box” because of how cold it was. That is torture in my opinion, and they got that torture for wanting to start a better life. Then we looked at the interview of Jacob Soboroff, an NBC reporter, on his book Separated: Inside an American Tragedy. Even when given evidence of horrors going on at the border, a woman in the government still didn’t feel bad. I agree with Bumblebee when they say, “But that fear is not an excuse for some of the appalling and disgusting actions that people have committed in so called defense of our country. There is no rational explanation as to why a man would keep trophies of the dead bodies he finds on his property of immigrants seeking a better life”. What does this show about our country, a country of immigrants?

Some descendants of past or present generations of immigrants seem to express opposition to immigration solely because of fear. Fear is a dominating part of our brains and we make decisions based on it. The Washington Post article by John Bargh explains this perfectly. John Bargh explains that people fear immigrants like you do a virus or infection because they are compared to them. But after our safety is ensured we aren’t afraid anymore, like using hand sanitizer or getting the flu vaccine, “In another study, using hand sanitizer after being warned about the flu virus had the same effect on immigration attitudes as had being vaccinated. A simple squirt of Purell after we had raised the threat of the flu had changed their minds. It made them feel safe from the dangerous virus, and this made them feel socially safe from immigrants as well.” I learned from the article that Republicans are more fear-based than Democrats because their leaders are more likely to use fear to gain votes when Democratic leaders say we will figure it out. The article makes sense of this by saying, “This is why it makes sense that liberal politicians intuitively portray danger as manageable — recall FDR’s famous Great Depression era reassurance of “nothing to fear but fear itself,” echoed decades later in Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address — and why 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.” So in conclusion, fear is a form of manipulation in society and once we break out of that we can begin to see more clearly.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 22

Ironic Xenophobia

I found the videos we had to watch for homework particularly jarring. In the Frontline video, the enormous hurdles migrants were forced to face to even reach the border were laid out, and I witnessed how families were pulled apart by Trump’s separation policy; it took a leaked audio from one of the facilities to turn public opinion strongly enough to put an end to this inhumane policy. At the same time, in the interview with Jacob Soboroff, he shared a clip of an interview with Katie Miller, who claimed that even a visit to a detention center did not awaken within her any sympathy for detained or deported migrants. After seeing how many families had fled imminent violence or death, sometimes after the deaths of their own relatives, I could not believe that someone who met with these people firsthand could not recognize their enormous courage and sacrifice, and could chose to continue to separate young children from their parents, which caused lasting damage even for children who were relatively swiftly returned.

The Yale study, published by the Washington Post, helped me to more fully understand how people could rationalize their vitrolic hatred for people whose only crime was seeking a better, safer life. It makes a great deal of sense to me that people could be motivated by fear to oppose more humanitarian immigration policies - Trump, after all, practically built his campaign on the construction of a wall to keep out all Latin American immigrants, by demonizing undocumented immigrants as “rapists” and criminals. It also explains the massive backlash Obama faced in trying to expand opportunities for immigrants through DACA and other programs, resulting in his administration deporting more people than his predecessors. Further, the article on fear makes sense of the increase in border security after 9/11. Latin Americans played no part in the terrorist attack, but the immense fear of foreigners which followed this attack caused many to want restrictions on all forms of immigration.

Xenophobia rooted in fear is far from being new. The Chinese Exclusion Act was not passed until after decades of Chinese immigration to the United States. When the Chinese worked in gold mines or built the Transcontinental Railroad (a gruelling job Americans were happy to allow someone else to perform), their presence was tolerated. It was only when the economy crashed, and Californians began to become more desparate for work, that Chinese immigrants were made into a scapegoat. Congress easily passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, preventing Chinese immigration to the United States until 1943.

Nonetheless, it is still baffling to me that children of immigrants could be so opposed to immigration. If immigration from Europe was strictly controlled and regulated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, most of my ancestors, and those of millions of others, likely would not have been able to come to the US. I feel that people are able to rationalize them with an us vs. them mentality. They know their ancestors came to seek better lives, but feel that immigrants who come now will take their jobs. They believe that each immigrant who arrives displaces a “real American”, when in reality, this country thrives off the different perspectives held by its citizens, who hail from around the globe.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

Desperation on Both Sides of the Border

Watching the Frontline documentary on border patrol made it abundantly clear the driving force behind American opposition towards immigration. Well, there are a number of things, but the main thing is just utter hatred and fear. Americans are afraid of immigrants coming to threaten them, they're afraid that all those immigrants are drug dealers, rapists and criminals. Reinforcing this fear was the FORMER president of the United States Donald Trump, simply portraying new coming immigrants bad people. Fear is instilled into Americans' brains, when they don't realistically have much to be afraid of. That is why there is an absence of empathy toward immigrants.

As a nation of immigrants, I think it is idiotic to bar out other immigrants. In Jacob Soboroff's interview, Katie Miller had worked on the immigration policy and were very open about it. She was literally sent to a facility to see if she would become more compassionate for the immigrants and their families, but she came back as heartless as she left. Back to the Frontline documentary, the ICE Director felt absolutely no empathy or sympathy towards the crying children, the ones forcibly separated from their families. Fear isn't the only reason people oppose incoming immigrants.

Now on top of all these reasons, the Coronavirus had only made it worse. In class we discussed anti-Asian sentiments expressed by Americans, believing that they'll get the virus from them. Scott Greenberger essentially describes the Asian people in America as Trump's "modern day slaves". There is also constant fear of "losing jobs" to all immigrants. Trump continued to feed the fire, as Greenberger had explained, and he is one huge reason fear has so much to do with this situation.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 11

Fear Turns Into Hatred

We as human beings are driven by fear. This is the reason why the descendants of immigrants in the past are opposed to immigration. The study in the John Bargh article showed that people generally associate immigrants with disease because immigrants were often called “disgusting bacteria” and discussed the fact that the number one priority of every human being is to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. If immigrants are viewed as a disease, they will therefore be viewed as threats to the safety of others.

This hatred for immigrants has occurred for quite a long time. For example, the Chinese Exclusion era happened because people began to view Chinese immigrants as the reason why they could not find jobs. The “Cheap Slaves” article explains that not many people minded the Chinese immigrants during the Gold Rush era, especially since they were contributing towards the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. When the economy declined, however, they began to show contempt. This is an example of how when a group of people is thrown into a dire situation, they tend to shift the blame towards another group, usually some kind of minority. This unfortunately happens with immigrants, who are often portrayed as “monsters” who will bring harm to the lands they move to.

In the film Separated: Children at the Border, the anger towards those “illegally” crossing the United States’ southern border is largely fuelled by nativism as well as, in more recent years, the words of Donald Trump. “They’re rapists,” he says about them. “And some, I assume, are good people.” His words are able to instill a fear of immigrants into an unfortunate amount of people: this fear, like usual, turns into hatred.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

White European-Americans fearing immigration is an oxymoron

Through both previous knowledge and the videos/articles we viewed, I find that most opposition to immigration is rooted in fear, insecurity, and xenophobia. This could be fear of “losing jobs” (even though there is no data to support that), a rise in crime (that's what most of these immigrants are trying to escape in the first place ), or even just straight-up racism, trying to keep this country white (I have actually heard this leave someone's mouth before). This fear is baffling to me, and I could not seem to wrap my head around why people would take this so personally as if it was a direct attack on their freedom and liberties. John Bargh’s study at yale helped me better understand where this fear may come from, and how it plays a role in decision making. When the Conservative patients were made to feel safe from all physical threats and harm, they suddenly supported much more liberal opinions than they had previously, before the experiment. This physical fear can be linked to fear of disease going back hundreds of years. However, as Bargh notes, “‘Immigrants are like viruses’ is a powerful metaphor, because in comparing immigrants entering a country to germs entering a human body, it speaks directly to our powerful innate motivation to avoid contamination and disease”.

Government officials and politicians have historically capitalized on this fear for physical safety to spread anti-immigration rhetoric or enforce harsher laws. As Wyverary noted, Trump's campaign was strongly rooted in anti-immigration efforts, with “Build the Wall'' becoming his coined slogan. In the Frontline video, “Separated: Children at the Border”, Trump is shown at a press conference saying how if we let these ”hombres” in, they will rape, steal, and take jobs. This undoubtedly spread fear amongst his supporters, and any other impressionable person who heard his repeated hateful anti-immigration rhetoric. A common excuse you hear these days is ”they're taking our jobs!”, a phrase that predates our current immigration crisis and even Donald Trump. As Scott Greenberger highlights in “‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act”, this fear can be seen all the way back in the 19th century, starting with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. As we have been learning about these past few weeks, the Chinese Exclusion Act banned all Chinese immigrants from coming into the United States for 20 years+, and the fear that they were here to take jobs was spread. As we all know, “the party’s anti-Chinese views were rooted in racism and revulsion at the newcomers’ unfamiliar customs” as Greenberger highlights.

I think if these fearful people took a look at what was actually motivating these people to flee their homes maybe their views would change. In the Frontline documentary, it was truly eye-opening to see the harsh journey that many immigrants endured just to make it to the border. The trek itself is long and hard, with many having to catch a moving train (risking death for those who cannot grab on quick enough), travel through immense heat, or cross large bodies of water. Aside from the actual journey itself, 6 in 10 women are raped along the way and almost everyone experiences some sort of violence or theft. One would only endure these things if they knew it was worth getting away from their previous situation. As Genesis from the “Real America” video says “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,”. I truly do not understand how people spit out hateful phrases like “go back to your country” without even knowing their story, background, or life.

However, some people are not anti-immigrant due to fear or insecurity, but rather xenophobia. While it can often be disguised as the former, hate is the only reason for people to still believe our immigration and deportation system is just fine. In the “Separated: Inside an American Tragedy“ interview with Jacob Soboroff, he revealed that Katie Miller, who was Trump's political advisor, claimed that even after visiting a detention center and seeing the immense hurt these separated children are feeling, she spared no sympathy. This is shocking to me (even though it maybe shouldn't be since it's...Trump) since that is coming from a literal White House official. I am also so upset with myself for believing that Trump was the only president (in my lifetime) to do wrong with immigration. How did I not know that Obama was nearly as bad? In both the NPR article about Obama’s Immigration history and the Frontline video I learned that this crisis has been going on for much longer.

I truly think that White Europeans opposing immigration is an oxymoron in itself. We had to get here somehow? Do you not think that the Native Americans were just as terrified (with much better reason too)? I truly think everyone should watch that Frontline documentary, it taught me so much about what immigrants go through to get here, and how mistreated they are even when they arrive in the United States (or border).

Chestnuthill, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

Fueled by Fear

The harmful and untrue stereotype that illegal immigrants are rapists, stealers, drug dealers, and other bad things is what fuels some of the present opposition to immigrantion. It is obviously not all just that, as before this horrible picture was painted by Donald Trump, as seen from clips in the Separated : Children at the Boarder documentary, there was still strong negativity towards immigrants. The way that Donald Trump spoke about immigrants coming into the United States, specifically from South America, he portrayed them in a negative way to make it seem as if they would destroy the country and risk the citizens of the US. This spread fear into the minds of many Americans, those of which whose ancestors were also immigrants. All Americans who are not Native Americans are descendents of immigrants, whether it be their parents, or their grandparents, or their great great great great grandparents. At the end of the day, they are all immigrants. But why are they trying to block the boarders of other immigrants from regions such as South America and Eastern Asia?

One reason that many anti-immigration believers may be so against immigration into the United States is fear. There is the fear that their “normal” lives will revert from what they are now into worse, as they fear their jobs will be taken away and other irrational ideas. This is what stemmed some of the hatred towards Asian and Asian Americans in the 19th century, when they were said to have worked for low prices. All of this hatred is routed in racism. And the effects that the fears of some had on many others is appalling, and their fear is not an excuse for anything. It was said in the Washington Post article that those who feared more were conservatives, while liberals feared less and were more open to facing those fears. Using those fears, as described once again in the article from the Washington Post, people like Donald Trump were able to monopolize on them and gain a position of power, which he did with the 2016 presidency. As described in the Washington Post article, Trump used the fear of the people regarding boarder security and immigration to grow hatred towards immigrants from South America. This was also demonstrated in the documentary with videos of what Trump was saying at his rallies.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

How Fear Makes People Forget: The Lost Immigrant Identity

Those who are already in the United States oppose immigration based on a number of reasons, but fear is a primary cause. As can be seen in the article by John Bargh, the study done at Yale unveiled the underlying source of political stance. In short, they found that those who did not feel physically safe and valued safety tended to lean to the conservative side. In the same manner, there is the link between immigrants and disease: those who did not have their flu shot tended to have a more critical and unwelcoming attitudes towards others entering the country. The article then cites some instances we can see this in our politics. More liberal politicians “intuitively portray danger as manageable” where as their conservative counterparts were “likely to emphasize the dangers of terrorism and immigration, relying on fear as a motivator to gain votes”. The combination of this human feeling of fear and the rhetoric of powerful politicians create this dangerous disdain that people have for immigrants. A prime example of this would be Trump’s consistent referral to the coronavirus as the “China virus”, drawing a connection between immigrants and disease, thus as a threat to the nation. When he does this he is participating in the spread of xenophobic ideas, ideas that, like Wyverary mentions, is nothing new. In regards to the Chinese Exclusion Act, there were deliberate efforts made to portray Chinese, and later Asian immigrants in general, as dangerous, dirty, and a threat to the country. The use of stereotypes in propaganda, such as the ones we looked at during class (“The Wasp” and “Rough on Rats” images in particular) is essentially what Trump had done in his public speeches and Twitter posts when pulling almost every stereotype from the book to incite fear amongst the people.

I think that the out of sight out of mind mentality plays a large role in these types of attitudes too. When looking at the Frontline film and analyzing the response to the tapes of young children crying out in “ice boxes” and the testimonies of families who faced separation and neglect when seeking out asylum, we can see that a good amount of the top leaders decided to place economic and political priority over the lives of suffering people. It was sickening to watch the documentary, especially when Jessica Vaugn, the director of policy studies, said that the facilities that the immigrants from Central America were in, were much nicer than what they had before, basically insinuating that the US was giving them more, if not too much, attention and care. Then there was the scene showing Tom Homan, the director of ICE at the time, reacting to the audio recording of wailing children for the first time. He brushed it off saying that he has heard crying children before and that he was a parent himself, minimizing the trauma that these immigrants had gone through. This mentality correlates with the idea of “us versus them” as well, by placing immigrants at a lower level and when there is no connection between the two parties, the compassion aspect is lost.

In terms of the fear of immigrants found amongst the descendants of past and present generations of immigrants, I believe that the long standing notion that assimilation is key to success in the US contributes to these sentiments. There is a definite image of what an American looks like, white and successful in climbing to the top of the socioeconomic ladder, and speaking as someone who comes from an immigrant background, this image is idolized. Descendants of immigrants are usually raised to be as close to this image as possible and in the process of time and generations, the “American identity” becomes fully adopted and the previous “immigrant identity” is replaced and forgotten. People often either forget, or choose to disassociate themselves with the immigrant image, and then place unwarranted pressures onto incoming immigrants when they do not conform to the same behavior. As a result, immigrant descendants may feel threatened by newcomers, again pointing back to the American way of constant competition for most social mobility. Ultimately these anxieties sprout from a place of fear that is often an encouraged feeling to have by politicians in the media.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself, but some people refuse to believe that

Fear of the unknown. This alone is the very thing that drives many people to believe what they believe. It helps them determine the kinds of decisions they make. In the case of Immigration, the fear of the unknown plays a huge factor as to why many in the United States oppose the idea of immigration. As mentioned in John Baugh’s article in trying to turn conservatives into liberals, conservatives value security more than liberals. Conservatives will likely try and find ways that they can protect themselves such as buying a gun to ward off any potential evildoer. Frontline’s documentary further showcases this sentiment. There was one segment of the documentary where they interviewed a man named Mike Vickers. In the interview, he reveals the various ways he tries to protect his land from immigrants coming from the border. He placed electric wires all around and he is part of a local militia that works to try and track down people who have crossed the border. I remember I saw this video years ago that explained how after 9/11, many people started developing a more conservative mindset as the fear of possible attacks in the future entered their minds. They wanted to feel more secure. Some people may also look towards what has happened either in the past or present day as reasons for why they would oppose immigration. For example, I remember when there were many terrorist attacks that took place in France back in 2015. I saw this one video regarding the attacks that took place during the month of November. People kept pinning the refugee crisis that was going on at the time as the reason why these attacks occurred in the first place. They pointed to how France had made strides to try and accept many refugees, and some people claimed that terrorists likely took advantage of that to enter the country and plot horrific attacks. Those who oppose immigration have likely thought about what has happened in Europe and used that as a means to justify their rationale. In their minds, if too many immigrants from Central America are allowed in, you’re likely going to attract a lot of evildoers into our country thus bringing in a rise in the crime rates. Higher crime rates equals less security.

It is more than trying to ensure that they are physically secured. Many also want to ensure that they are able to land a secure job. You’ve likely heard from some politicians that immigrants are to blame for people losing their jobs. This causes people to oppose immigration as a lack of job security spells trouble for just about anyone. Politicians have pushed these lies in order cast fear in the minds of many so that they can get their support. In reality, automation is to blame for a lot of jobs lost in this country, but you don’t hear many politicians bring that up. With COVID hastening the process of automation by 10 years, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a surge in jobs lost in the years to come after the pandemic. As companies start to realize that they can save more money by doing things such as allowing people to work from home, all those janitors who once held jobs cleaning offices inside a building will likely lose that job as companies no longer need the office spaces. I wouldn’t be surprised if anti-immigrant sentiments were to rise long after COVID as automation continues to affect our lives even more. As to why some descendants of immigrants oppose immigration? Likely for similar reasons that have already been stated.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

Fear at the Border

As discussed in the article ‘At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions,’ the main motivator for anti-immigration views is fear. People tend to fear what is unknown and foreign to them, yet those fears often have little to no basis. The immigration ‘problem’ in the United States has been fueled by rhetoric from our former president Donald Trump and other conservative leaders. Trump was known for making general assumptions about immigrants such as calling all Mexicans “drug dealers, criminals, and rapists.” This type of rhetoric enforced the fears for personal safety already held by many conservatives. However those assumptions are entirely untrue, and most immigrants are merely seeking a better life, running from violence in their countries.

While people tend to claim that they fear immigrants taking away jobs in the United States, their real fears are often quite different. What people fear are differences. In ‘Cheap Slaves: Trump, Immigration, and the Ugly History of the Chinese Exclusion Act,’ Scott Greenberger discusses how the fear of immigrants is not a new phenomenon. From the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act to the situation at the border today, the fears are based in “racism and revulsion at the newcomers’ unfamiliar customs.” But customs, culture, and perspectives brought by immigrants only create a more diverse society, and are nothing to be feared.

The Frontline video was really eye opening for me. Seeing the conditions at the border, and the families who were separated was heartbreaking. The struggles that they went through in their home countries were often unimaginable, yet when they came to the United States seeking asylum they were only met with more hardships. The children featured in this film such as Maybelin seemed to have acquired deep rooted trauma from these experiences, trauma that may stick with them for the rest of their lives. It was so sad to hear how the parents could notice their children had changed once they were reunited. This trauma could have been easily avoided.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 20

Manifest Destiny: A right that only pertains to white people according to anti-immigration groups

The concept of manifest destiny as the supernatural right of Europeans to settle in America and colonize the world in the Renaissance still has its effects today. Some white Americans who are descendants of European immigrants share similar sentiments on what they believe only they deserve in America as citizens. Certainly, citizens do deserve the rights and protections of their nations, but those seeking asylum and citizenship deserve those rights too as humans. Immigrants from Central and South America seek the American dream and alleged endless opportunities for themselves and their children, who would otherwise grow up with poor education or dead due to gang violence that threatens entire families. America is by no means a balloon that can always expand, so we cannot accept everyone seeking asylum, but such decisions are not up to regular residents who claim to know that immigrants from Mexico bring crime and drugs. Immigrants are actually running away from them, like the little girl in Jorge Ramos’s, Real America: Out of Sight and Out of Mind documentary, who recalled cocaine being sold just outside of her school and witnessing countless murders there as well.

Upon arrival, immigrants are willing to take low-paying jobs in order to feed their families while gaining status in America. Similarly, Chinese immigrants in the late 19th century worked on the Transcontinental Railroad and other small jobs for little money. They were essential to the expansion of the American economy out West, but as soon as the economy faltered, anti-Asian sentiment grew more. As Scott S. Greenberger details in “‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act,” Denis Kearney, an Irish immigrant, founded the Workingmen’s Party of California which opposed Chinese immigrants for working for low wages. They claimed that Chinese men were simply inferior, which is why they could be “cheap slaves.” Therefore, they are taking valuable jobs away from Americans because they accept less money. In reality, “the party’s anti-Chinese views were rooted in racism and revulsion at the newcomers’ unfamiliar customs,” just as white Americans may view foreigners. Instead of attempting to question why they come here and why they are so willing to work in terrible conditions, society scapegoats them as stealing jobs.

Certainly there is fear involved. They don’t believe that Latinx immigrants are superior, but rather that their numbers continue to grow as Chinese numbers did in the 1800s and 1900s. Donald Trump himself has said that Mexicans are rapists and bring crime in great numbers, none of which is true. They don’t fear the numbers because of a negative impact on society; they could care less about unity in society as a whole it seems. Instead, they fear that the white race will become a minority in America, which it very soon will. For centuries, they have enjoyed being the ones with the upper hand advantages in countless systems. Now, they worry they will lose that as institutions become more inclusive. As this rhetoric comes from their leaders, they are inspired to justify their own racist behaviors. As detailed in John Bargh’s, “At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals,” “President Trump and other Republican politicians are likely to emphasize the dangers of terrorism and immigration, relying on fear as a motivator to gain votes,” rather than trying to dispel fear as FDR and President Obama did through the quote “nothing to fear but fear itself.” As conservatives push the narrative of Mexicans as enemies, they fail to research that illegal immigration has dropped from Mexico, as stated in the NPR article.

Regardless of these anxieties, there is nothing that could justify the lack of empathy for children separated at the border. Many Americans opposing immigration are too swallowed up in their own fear to see that the leaders of our so-called great country separated families in secret as documented in the Frontline film. No 5-year-old girl like Meybeline should have to be separated from her father for 35 days. This brought even more trauma into her life after it was already threatened in their home country and on the journey to America.

Posts: 18

Hatred and fear

After watching the reading the article by NPR and watching the frontline border patrol documentary I saw one of the main reasons why so many Americans sought to not let immigrants in is because of fear and hatred. Americans are afraid of what they think all these immigrants are. They think these immigrants are criminals and drug dealers. With Trump being elected as the president of the united states, this fear was reestablished, which made new coming immigrants look like bad people.

I don't think Americans have much to be afraid about as I think the fear mainly comes from/is in people's heads/minds. I don't think Americans should look to force out other immigrants, especially because we are a nation of immigrants. I thought President Ronald Regan's quote from the Republican primary in 1980 was a good example of supporting immigrants and helping them. In the quote, Reagan explained that rather than putting up a fence, Americans (mainly the government) should make it possible for them to legally come to America with a work permit, where they can pay taxes here while they're working. If they want to go back and cross the border they are able to and they can cross both ways. I think if more Americans thought this way instead of fearing immigrants, then Americans would be more likely to help out the immigrants.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

The Consumption of Fear

Immigration is one of the many things that is now defining political parties. Immigration decisions should never be influenced by political opinions. In other words, immigration should be left out of all political debate and rhetoric because it is not a matter of policy but of human rights. And the Washington Post article, about the experiment done at Yale, describes this perfectly by saying “ Politicians on both sides of the aisle know this already and attempt to manipulate our votes and party allegiances by appealing to these potent feelings of fear and of safety”. Immigration has been a prevalent topic in the past ten years as the number of immigrants on our Southern Border has been rising. Lawmakers have taken it into their own hands to not make the process for immigrants easy to enter the country and become citizens, and while they have done that they continuously create fear in the public to lessen the questions that the public might raise if they actually know what is going on at our borders.

I think the biggest thing that motivates people to oppose immigration is the most well-known politicians. Past politicians such as Donald Trump, and Barack Obama have made claims against immigration and this is only fueling the opposition that people express. As we can see from the NPR article deportations increased under the Obama administration. This is something that people recognize and take as a stand against immigration. As stated in the Wahington Post article past President Trump state that he was going to help Americans “ competing for jobs against brand-new arrivals”. This surely is going to create fear in people because it is insinuating that they could possibly be out of a job.

As we have known for years, some may say since the Chinese Exclusion Act, Americans have feared what is foreign to them and that includes immigrants. Some say they fear their jobs being taken or “overcrowding”. The Frontline video states that we have the means to absorb and shelter so many of these immigrants and over-crowding should not be a concern. One of the most jarring things is seeing the children at the border. As described in the MSNBC video children are being separated from their parents at the border, and are subsequently being lost in an unorganized system. Reporters have asked how they locate children and ICE detention center workers simply had no answer. While some kids are coming with parents there are many teenagers who are coming alone to escape violent gangs. This is something that really resonated with me because they are the same age as me and are having to endure so many more than I could ever imagine.

Fear is perpetuating the opposition to immigration.

Posts: 18

Immigration and Lack of Compassion

People express opposition to immigration in America, despite many being descendants of immigrants themselves, because of fear, a sense of superiority, lack of compassion, and the use of political rhetoric to stir them up. John Bargh’s article puts it bluntly that fear is why many conservatives have views that shut others out and oppose change. Scientifically, “brain imaging studies have even shown that the fear center of the brain, the amygdala, is actually larger in conservatives than in liberals” (On Fear and its effect on political views). This reveals to me that much of how we view the world may be innate, however, the same article states that “laboratory studies have found that when adult liberals experienced physical threat, their political and social attitudes became more conservative.” This makes me think more that, although some people may be more inclined to lean towards a conservative attitude because of how their brain works, much of our political alliances can be attributed to how much of a physical threat the media and political rhetoric portrays to us. Trump’s usage of words like “germs” and “bacteria” to describe immigrants only feeds those who are already more sensitive to acting on behalf of fear.

The mentality that immigrants are “disgusting,” which was chiefly promoted by Trump, is seen earlier in America, during the 1800s when Chinese immigration faced opposition. Chinese workers were not hated when jobs and gold were not an issue, but it was when people started fearing competition that the hateful sentiment took off. Denis Kearny, an Irish immigrant promoted anti-Chinese views (‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the

Chinese Exclusion Act), which goes to show that much the time immigrants themselves cast out other immigrants because they think about fear and competition before similarities. Many are also purely racist, and the propaganda pictures we looked at in class demonstrate how racism was paramount in bringing about the Chinese Exclusion Acts. Also the pure lack of empathy is shown in one of the clips of “Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border” in which Mike Vickers kept laminated posters of the dead bodies of immigrants seeking refuge that he found on his land.

In Jacob Soboroff’s interview, it was revealed how Katie Miller said “I believe if you come to America you should assimilate. Why do we need to have ‘little Havana’” ('Separated' author Jacob Soboroff: 'Things are arguably worse than they were two years ago'). Her feelings were also shared by President Theodore Roosevelt in his quote, “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.” This disgusting mindset is what I think many people in government at the time of Trump had. Lack of compassion and ignorance about others’ cultures and state of life can be disguised in government as being “just cautious,” but they were the root of the policies that the Trump administration made. The Frontline documentary also revealed how Jessica Vaughan, Center for immigration studies, understood that kids torn apart from their families would have lasting trauma, but she did not seem to care and recognized only the goal they had which was to cut down on immigration. Meanwhile the Obama administration would not seriously consider the option of separating families and offered greater flexibility in deportations from within the country (5 Things To Know About Obama's Enforcement Of Immigration Laws). Although “Around the World, More Say Immigrants Are a Strength Than a Burden” describe how apparently more than half of Americans think immigrants make our country stronger, the feelings against them are still strong, I think the only way to combat the strong sentiment in America that immigrants are dangerous is to expose more people to stories like those shown in the Frontline documentary which follow experiences of immigrants in order to humanize them for Americans who only see them as threats. The problem faced in Jorge Ramos’ video “Out of Sight and Out of Mind” also warns Americans that crises involving American policy are still being detrimental and disrupting kids’ lives even if they are not happening on our soil.

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