posts 1 - 15 of 19
Boston, US
Posts: 288


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.

A short interview with Jacob Soboroff (NBC reporter) on his book Separated: Inside an American Tragedy, 2020 [5:55]

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


NOTE: We will have watched in class already Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border (2018) [54 minutes]

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), 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.” 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.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

"No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark": Why have so many Americans sought (and continue to seek) to close the door to immigrants?

As someone who is a first generation American and comes from a family of immigrants, I could not wrap my head around the fact that descendants of immigrants express opposition to immigration. So when I was reading the articles and watching the videos, I made an attempt to truly understand why this is such a common thing in the US and other nations as well, but in all honesty I don’t think it’s a matter of understanding. Whether or not I may understand the reasoning and thought process I can understand what leads these people to thinking and feeling this way. In my opinion, I think the biggest factor has everything to do with the political climate of this country in recent years and how it has affected what people fear. A common theme among the articles is that most people who are against immigration or show opposition to immigration are not only afraid of change, but are fearful for their own safety.

This fear didn't just come out of nowhere. In fact, I think it is due to how our government has chosen to depict immigrants coming to the US and immigrants as a whole. As written in “5 Things to Know about Obama’s Enforcement of Immigration Laws'' by Scott Horsley, the government continues to stress that a growing proportion of immigrants who are deported have criminal records. 59 percent of deported people in 2015 were criminals which is 31% more than the 2008 fiscal year. Rather than stressing all the good that immigrants bring to the country, the government deliberately chooses to emphasize this statistic. As we have seen multiple times, statistics alone can always be used as a scare tactic and oftentimes do scare many people. Rather than just publishing the statistics, the government should focus on why this is the case and what can be done to address the problem, because the other 41% of immigrants who were deported are still people. The ones who are considered criminals are still people as well. Releasing these statistics can lead many people to believe that they must fear for their lives because they’re surrounded by criminals. A similar idea was revealed in the study conducted by Yale: “anti-immigration attitudes are also linked directly to the underlying basic drive for physical safety”. So, again, the concern for one’s safety is brought up. Not only does the government push this agenda, individual political figures do so as well. Although the anti immigration ideology did not begin with Trump, he undoubtedly influenced the agenda. Along with his many attempts to end illegal immigration, Trump stated that “The looser immigration rules in place for half a century, he said, have “not been fair to our people, our citizens and our workers” (Scott S. Greenberger, “‘Cheap Slaves’: Trump, immigration, and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act), further amplifying the us vs them agenda. Claiming that immigrants are taking away jobs contributes to the growing fear for one’s and also contributes to one’s fear of change.

Conservatives have historically been against drastic change. So when they are convinced that immigration is changing the country, especially in a bad way, of course they’re going to oppose immigration, whether or not they are descendants of immigrants. In the study conducted by Yale, it was shown that “the former endorsed more conservative positions on social issues were more resistant to social change in general”. What began as just a political ideology has turned into a very hurtful agenda created by the right; the country cannot and will not change.

From the readings and videos, I no longer believe that being a descendant of immigrants is the biggest influence when considering immigration in the United States. Political socialization driven by fear is arguably the biggest influence and if it is not addressed, I don't think the country will make much progress, at least when it comes to immigration.

Boston, MA
Posts: 16

“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.” I feel like this quote explains the extent to which fear comes into play. The reform specifically characterized one group of people in a negative way.

Fear plays a big part of political division.

“Conservatives, it turns out, react more strongly to physical threats than liberals do. In fact, their greater concern with physical safety seems to be determined early in life: In one University of California study, the more fear a 4-year-old showed in a laboratory situation, the more conservative his or her political attitudes were found to be 20 years later. Brain imaging studies have even shown that the fear center of the brain, the amygdala, is actually larger in conservatives than in liberals. “ This quote thoroughly relates to the use of your brian in decision making. We’ve also learned about the correlation between groups and idealogigly. So it may be that out of fear people are choosing to band together.

“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.

People from present or past generations may see that immigrants coming to the US may be conflicting as the rising number and conflicts jeopardize their status in america. This once again relates to fear.

Inside the American TRagedy depicts the harsh reality of separation of families through Trump's administration. This may cause fear within immigrants already in the States towards new ones, as they may wonder why they would risk putting themselves in a situation to lose family. Immigration is a risk within itself most of the time brush over in the media seen in “Out of Sight out of Mind”

With the systems in place in our government I think people also fear the working class of immigrants because they will jeopardize the American work culture.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 28

Americans seeing "immigrants as a virus"

The well-known metaphor, “immigrants are like viruses,” may seem extreme, but it represents the opinions of many Americans throughout history and today. Nevertheless, what many of these Americans fail to realize is that most of us are immigrants. The indigenous people are the only ones who aren’t immigrants, yet they are the ones who are treated like they don’t belong. People of color, specifically Asian-Americans, are also treated as foreign and not belonging. And this opposition to the immigration of Asians runs strong throughout our country as Americans continue to try to close borders. Why are these Americans, who are descendants of past or present generations of immigrants themselves, in such great opposition to immigration?

One of the main reasons why these descendants attempt to push out and limit immigrants from settling in the United States is because of economic pressure. When Chinese people first began immigrating in large numbers to the United States, they came because of factors such as the California Gold Rush and the First Transcontinental Railroad; there was a need for labor and Americans were financially stable, so the immigration of Chinese people was tolerated because it benefitted those already here. Once the economy began to struggle, however, there was a quick turn in attitude that went from that of acceptance to that of hatred and blame. This led to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which banned Chinese laborers from entering the United States for 20 years, along with denying citizenship to those already living in the country. These rules were set up to stop immigration, which white Americans thought would help them succeed economically. They blamed the Chinese migrants for their economic struggles, claiming that they were taking jobs away from those already here.

There’s often a misunderstanding when it comes to laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act. People believe that it happened so long ago and that things are very different now. That is far from the truth. Not only was the law itself not repealed till 1943, but immigrants continue to face the blame of economic hardships. And this anger towards immigrants because of jobs is represented in our country’s leaders too, as Trump said that rules fostering immigration have “not been fair to our people, our citizens, and our workers.” People throughout our country reflect their struggles, lost jobs, or limited economic opportunities on others, specifically immigrants.

Although blame for economic hardships is a major factor in why descendants of past and present immigrants express opposition to immigration, this opposition also stems from racism itself. Many immigrants coming to the United States are people of color who have completely different cultures, identities, and experiences than everyone else living in the United States. Yet Americans have always had this long-standing belief that America needs to be a place of one type of people. So when diversity is encouraged or other cultures, races, or identities are expressed, opposition emerges. Immigration usually means deviating from the “norm” or “one type” of culture many Americans strive for. So many expect immigrants to assimilate into American culture. Former president Theodore Roosevelt said, “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.” Roosevelt’s comment, however, is actually problematic because he is suggesting that all immigrants should “become” American. So when people migrate to the United States and don’t “become” American, they face opposition. Many Americans want this “pure” version of America, which, in the past, has led to processes such as eugenics, trying to maintain the culture of whiteness in America and nothing else. As Roosevelt said, “We have room for but one flag, the American flag.”

This opposition towards immigrants who did nothing wrong stems from a lack of empathy. Many people are willing to take whatever cost if it means reducing the number of immigrants, as seen from deportations. When immigrants are deported, they are put in facilities with little COVID-19 precautions, terrible conditions, and, worst of all, separated from their family members. Small children such as 9-year-old Genesis have to go through the struggles of not having a home, sickness, or worry about getting separated from her family. Yet despite all of these blatant violations of human rights, Scott Loyd, the director of the OOR tried to get rid of the list of children in custody without their families and others such as Katie Miller explain that “DHS sent me to the border to see the separations for myself – to try to make me more compassionate – but it didn’t work.” People opposing immigration know what’s happening- they understand that they are ruining innocent lives, tearing apart families, and dehumanizing these immigrants, but they don’t care. This is literally just a lack of consideration.

All of these reasons why there is opposition towards immigrants–whether because of economic struggles, racism, or simply a lack of empathy–stem from a similar theme of fear. Individuals rely heavily on a sense of power and safety, and when these two factors of an individual’s life are put in jeopardy, they feel threatened. When people see one bad act from an immigrant, such as the 9/11 attacks, or hear of one experience where an immigrant took someone’s job, they make generalizations, letting one scenario represent their attitude towards all immigrants. And this is the problem. We let fear for our safety and security manipulate our beliefs. Therefore, when we are in environments or situations that make us feel safer, we are more likely to have positive or more accepting attitudes. As John Bargh from Yale University explains, “The boiling water of our social and political attitudes, it seems, can be turned up or down by changing how physically safe we feel.” Bargh conducted a study that showed that people tended to have more positive attitudes towards questions regarding immigration when they felt safe from the flu than when they didn’t feel safe from the flu. The large tie between feeling safe and our political attitudes is crucial and often unrecognized. Politicians often appeal to feelings of fear and safety as a means of persuading their supporters.

Overall, the main problem is that an individual’s ideas are often based on fear rather than facts. Every single one of us is a descendant of immigrants except for those of Native American descent. Therefore, opposition to immigration isn’t hatred of immigrants themselves, but rather the idea of them. Rather than turning against immigrants, they should be welcomed in. America is a place that should be known and loved for its diverse and unique identities because that is what makes our country beautiful.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 28

Why have so many Americans sought (and continue to seek) to close the door to immigrants?

Fear and anxiety have been and still prove to be the backbone of opposition to immigration. That’s an undeniable fact. The U.S government, politicians, and the everyday normal civilian have had a past of utilizing fear tactics and emphasizing the dangers immigrants ‘possess’ to create a united front against these groups. This strategy too was built on American fear; it first started with white Americans feeling unsafe in their jobs, homes, and country, and now this feeling of insecurity has spread to various racial groups. You would expect that other immigrants or people of color would have more compassion towards those in detention centers or refuse to take part in deportation, but that’s not always the case. For example, Barack Obama oversaw more deportations than George W. Bush, and the rate of deportations increased in each of the first four years Obama was in office, according to Scott Horsley on National Public Radio. Another prime example is the formation of a labor movement at the hands of Irish immigrants against Chinese workers. Both of these peoples shared similar motives, the American dream, adequate wages, and employment opportunities, yet immigrants are constantly being pitted against one another to set a clear target on a specific ethnic/racial group. Such a pattern can be seen through Scott S. Greenberger’s article in the Washington Post in which he states, “Trump was careful to add that minority workers have been among those “hit hardest” by unfettered immigration.” The U.S government has put heavy emphasis on the “us vs. them” complex so that their very own minority populations and present generations of immigrants will join their long fight of opposing immigration.

Moreover, how have fear tactics and immigration stereotypes played a part in this country’s opposition to immigration? The implementation of fear tactics--in regards to immigration-- has revolved around specific topics: employment, health, safety, identity, and invasion. For example, in John Bargh’s article in the Washington Post, it’s stated that Republicans would be more liberal if they felt completely safe; the anxiety of no longer being safe was a result of the continuous emphasis on the ‘dangers’ of immigration and terrorism by influential Republican figures like Donald Trump. Simply put, “anti-immigration attitudes are also linked directly to the underlying basic drive for physical safety”. Moreover, the labeling of immigrants as physical threats has long ago leaked into the science field in which immigrants have been classified as bacteria/germs: “It turned out that those who had not gotten a flu shot (feeling threatened) expressed more negative attitudes toward immigration, while those who had received the vaccination (feeling safe) had more positive attitudes about immigration.” Additionally, physical characteristics and eugenics had been heavily utilized by white Americans to rouse nationwide fear of immigrants potentially ‘contaminating’ and ‘invading’ the white race. Responses to these fear tactics include neighborhood racial division, the preaching of naturalization (although the process to do so was fairly impossible), and relocation (“out of sight, out of mind”). When immigrants would arrive in the U.S, they often moved into neighborhoods that were populated with people of similar origin, ethnicity, or race since it was more welcoming, and a prominent example of such neighborhoods is Chinatown. However, these neighborhoods became major targets for criticism and violence by citizens who opposed the immigration of certain races/ethnicities. A prime example of this ignorant criticism is Katie Miller’s reference to Latino neighborhoods as “Little Havana” and her suggestion that immigrants should simply assimilate (according to the interview of Jacob Soboroff). A significant word to point out here is “assimilate”; such a word holds an intense amount of hypocrisy because assimilation was equated with invasion in the eyes of anti-immigration Americans. They despised, feared, and forbade any contact with immigrants which prompted the development of neighborhoods like Chinatown, with their diverse demographics and backgrounds. Moreover, Katie assumes that assimilation for immigrants is simple, when in fact, stories like Genesis’s tell another story. The short documentary, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind,” follows the story of Genesis, a 9-year old girl who was living in a border camp located in Mexico as her family waited for their attempt to retrieve asylum. Genesis explains the various aspects of the camp, all of which are concerning and saddening. Immigrants have moved their entire lives only to be relocated by the U.S government without any proper lawful help, food, education, and living conditions. To me, it seems that the U.S government’s fear of immigration has become so deep-rooted, that they don’t give these immigrants any of their attention or care yet they dare continue to dehumanize them. In the end, Genesis’s family wasn’t granted asylum which is granted only 1% of the time. America is failing these immigrants although they have been and continue to be the very backbone of this country.

Chestnut Hill, MA, US
Posts: 28

"No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark": Why have so many Americans sought (and continue to seek) to close the door to immigrants?

The United States has acted irrationally for centuries when it comes to immigration. Whether people are throwing racial slurs, passing bills to exclude specific races from becoming citizens (Chinese Exclusion Act), or simply forming hate groups that target minorities (Anti-Asian American groups), the U.S. has clearly displayed its intolerable idealistic about foreigners. The contradiction that makes itself apparent is how unless you are indigenous or forcibly brought to this country, theoretically you are all descended from immigrants who chose to come here, so what makes one group superior to the next? The fact of the matter is that people act on fear and threats.

According to NPR, President Obama's enforced immigration laws have slightly altered over the past eight years. With over 400,000 people deported in 2012, Obama oversaw more deportations than George W. Bush, who oversaw more than Bill Clinton before him. After Trump's presidency, it was clear that deportation rates arose once again as his main focus was banning illegal immigrants. In the NPR article, "the Sept. 11 attacks" are mentioned as justification for the increasing trend in illegal immigration reform. It seems as though every resolution to an issue found by our government always tends to do more damage than healing. After the 9/11 crisis, Middle Easterns were targeted, unemployed, and at times, violently hurt because of political leaders' counteractive response. If we compare this negative outcome to present-day, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resurfaced Asian hate; the support for these groups is once again fueled by influential people such as politicians, Donald Trump being one of them. Comments like "Chinese virus" or "Asian flu" completely diminishes any progress that this nation's leaders have done to erase xenophobia, and nevertheless, open the door to an implicit hierarchy of races to the public. Mentions as these set some sort of unspoken rule of approval for people to act hateful towards immigrants, specifically Asian Americans. In the documentary watched in class, "Separated: Inside an American Tragedy", the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy additionally adds to this negative behavior of how rulers are dealing with immigrants.

Overall, some descendants of past or present generations of immigrants seem to express opposition to immigration because of the fear of success and overachievement by newcomers. Once already settled here, people do not want competition nor to see a group steadily make its way up the "hierarchy" as earlier mentioned. Alike what happened to Chinese immigrants after the Gold Rush and the building of railroads, the chaos and hysteria of being unemployed shunned a light on blaming others for what is actually the government's fault.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark”: Why have so many Americans sought (and continue to seek) to close the door to immigrants?

Nativism is a term used to describe an opposition to immigration. People fear that immigrants will change existing cultural values, and outnumber the people originally from there. Nativist have sought to prevent cultural change by creating nativist movements. They had also feared that immigrants that worked for lower wages would take jobs away from union members. But shouldn't everybody have the chance to obtain the American dream? The American dream is the "belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society in which upward mobility is possible for everyone."

Deportations increased at first by President Obama. From Scott Horsley's article he states, "President Obama's approach to immigration enforcement is really two very different approaches: one for those caught near the border, the other for immigrants found living illegally in the interior." The Obama administration didn't have enough resources to deport every immigrant who only commited the crime of coming to the united states illegally. This meant that immigrants would then only be caught if found trying to cross the border or commited a crime.

A new methaphor that became widely known was, "immigrants are like viruses." Americans said this out of social, political, and economic fear. Foreigners were continuously associated with disease and contamination. Even as healthcare improved and vaccines were created, immagrants were still blatantly blamed. Diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis were becoming drug resistant, causing Americans again to blame the "outsiders". People of color, mostly Asian-Americans face lots of discrimination and are unfairly treated. Chinese people became the first main group to immagrant to the United states and became greatly involved in the Gold Rush. The economy started to struggle which caused the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which denyed citizenship to any Chinese immagrants already in the United states and denyed the workers from entering. Americans felt that they were taking away jobs from people already living there. In the documentry, it talks about the Zero Tolerence Policy that Trump creates to ramp-up criminal prosercution with immagrants, which only adds to the negative ways immigrants have been treated.

Today, Asian-Americans are still facing the same type of hatred with COVID-19. As COVID is said to have started in China, Chinese people and even Asian-Americans were being blamed for this pandemic. Some of these people have never even been to China in their life, yet they are scared to go into public, scared that an American will attack or scorn them for something that they have no power over.

Even descendents from generations of immigrants are still opposed to immigration, out of selfishness and insecurities. They are scared that people will come to the United States and better the economy and social life, taking their jobs and successfullness. Everyone in life should be given a fair opportunity and life no matter where they are born, everyone is human. America is failing immigrants and their families, and even the whole countrys future at improving, due to greediness and narcism.

West Roxbury, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark”: Why have so many Americans sought (and continue to seek) to close the door to immigrants?

“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." - President Theodore Roosevelt (served 1901-1909)

This is the exact mindset that all Americans should live by. President Roosevelt made this statement in 1919 and it perfectly reflects today's society. Americans whose ancestors immigrated to the United States are now discriminating against others who are just trying to do the exact same thing.

One of the main reasons I think Americans are acting like this is because of fear. They are scared these immigrants are going to take jobs from them and ruin their lives. This is not a new belief either, this has been a main reason for this discrimination for many years. This idea that the immigrants were going to take too many jobs led to the Chinese Exclusion Act. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prohibited any immigration of Chinese workers. The fact that a president signed on for this act and approved of it just baffles me. This really shows the level of hatred Americans have always had for immigrants.

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” - Warsan Shire, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth (2011)

Now this is my favorite quote out of all of the readings. Just think about it, nobody leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark. The reason so many people are immigrating to the United States is because their home country is a "mouth of a shark". These people are desperately fleeing their country to live happier lives in America and we are pushing them away from joining what is supposed to be a nation of united people. If these so-called "patriots", are just "defending their country" from immigrants then why aren't they focusing on the ideals of America, to unite as one people. America should be a place where we don't have this level of discrimination against people who don't deserve it, but a place that welcomes people, helping them to find a better life than they had, which is all they want.

I think this fear and anxiety that Americans have is the main reason for the discrimination, but not the only reason. There are certainly plenty of Americans who simply believe they are better than any immigrant and do not want them in the country. I don't really understand how they think these things, but they do. So, there are certainly many possibilities for the reasoning of this discrimination but I do agree in believing that fear is the main reason for these thoughts and actions.

West Roxbury, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

Originally posted by jellybeans101 on January 19, 2022 17:12

“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.” I feel like this quote explains the extent to which fear comes into play. The reform specifically characterized one group of people in a negative way.

Fear plays a big part of political division

I found this quote very interesting and I am glad you included it in your response. I think it is important to learn when these acts of discrimination began happening and why they started.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 23

Fear is one of the biggest reasons to why so many Americans close the door to immigrants

I believe the reason why many citizens, who’s descendants were once immigrants, express opposition to immigration is strongly correlated to fear and anxiety. And to add to that, another strong emotion, disgust. Trump’s metaphor of “Immigrants are like viruses” unleashes both fear and disgust. In John Bargh Washington post, he describes how political views are correlated on how safe someone feels. One of the main ideas is that “Conservatives, it turns out, react more strongly to physical threats than liberals do.” But more important was how people’s views change as how safe they feel change. For example, in an experiment where people were reminded of the threats of the flu, those who aren’t vaccinated expressed more negative views towards immigration and having hand sanitizer or being vaccinated caused people to have a more positive view.

Moreover, the feeling of disgust also causes opposition. In Scott S. Greenberger’s Washington Post article “‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act”, it states “In backing a Senate proposal to slash legal immigration, President Trump said he aimed to help Americans ‘competing for jobs against brand-new arrivals.” The looser immigration rules in place for half a century, he said, have “not been fair to our people, our citizens and our workers.’” This firstly is an example of the powerful mentality of us vs them. This is the same mentality that drives racism and hate crimes. In a way Trump is stating here that immigrants are a danger to Americans and to ensure that we have jobs, we can’t have immigrants come in. This is similar to how the Chinese were treated during the California Gold Rush and the Chinese Exclusion Act. In the same article an Irish immigrant says “‘A bloated aristocracy has sent to China — the greatest and oldest despotism in the world — for a cheap working slave, It rakes the slums of Asia to find the meanest slave on earth — the Chinese coolie — and imports him here to meet the free American in the labor market, and still further widen the breach between the rich and the poor.’” Rather than feeling unified with the Chinese (as both the Irish man and the Chinese are immigrants), he expressed disgust and put negative stereotypes onto the Chinese. I think this is similar to how descendants of past or present generations of immigrants can still be against immigration. It’s not the similar situation of once being new to America that motivates their view but rather the stereotypes and views passed from authority and the view of a “them” and a “us.”

Overall, find it very insightful and shocking. A great part of our views can be swayed by emotion like fear, anxiety and disgust. But I’m also hopeful. There are people that are against immigration and also maybe some indifferent, but something I found interesting is that not only do emotions motivate people to have negative views on immigration and maybe cause them to be against it, but it also has the power to move people forward and go for pro immigration and elimination of less traumatic experience of immigration like those shown in documentary Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border. For example the tape of a girl crying for her mother and having the number of her aunt memorized eventually led to Trump ending his family separation policy.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 27

Immigration in America

America is a nation of immigrants, yet many Americans have restrictions when it comes to new immigrants coming into the country and this isn’t new. The US has a long history of poor immigration policies such as the the Chinese Exclusion Act all the way back in 1882 to Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban in 2017. Even under Obama, deportations increased in the first half of his administration, reaching 400,000 in 2012. While deportations did go down in the second half of the Obama administration, anti-immigration sentiments in the US certainly haven’t gone down in the past few years. These anti-immigration sentiments are especially hypocritical considering America’s reputation for the American Dream, promising and encouraging to come to the country for a better life upon arrival.

So, what motivates people to oppose immigration? I think a big portion of it is because of the us vs them mentality that has surrounded immigration since the very beginning. People already from the US have often seen immigrants as threats or competitors. As mentioned in the “Cheap Slaves” article from the Washington Post, by limiting legal immigration, “President Trump said he aimed to help Americans ‘competing for jobs against brand-new arrivals.’” Immigrants generally, and especially Asian immigrants, have often been seen as rivals, which creates an anti-immigrant attitude among the people already living in the US. Additionally, racism and white supremacy certainly also play roles in the xenophobia that many immigrants face. As we looked at when we were studying white supremacy in Boston and throughout the US, one fear that drove white supremacists was the fear that white people would soon become a minority in the country, and since immigrants would make this a reality, they are met with a lot of racism and backlash when they come to the country.

What’s quite surprising is that some descendants or even current generations of immigrants also oppose immigration. I think the reasoning behind this might tie into the John Bargh Yale Study about fear and political views. Entering a society that makes it explicitly clear that it doesn’t want you to be there can certainly be a fearful experience for any person to go through, and because of this fear they may lean more towards conservative views about immigration. Especially, if you had to go through something as anxiety-inducing as being detained at the border as shown in the video with nine year old Honduran immigrant, Genesis. In the video, Genesis mentioned how she was scared of being killed at the border where she was staying, which is surely a very scary experience to be going through, especially as a nine year old. Furthermore, I think this might also have to do with feeling a need to assimilate into American society/culture. This quote, as mentioned in the NBC interview, from Katie Miller summarizes pressures that many immigrants face when they come to this country: “... I believe if you come to America you should assimilate. Why do we need to have a ‘little Havana.’” Due to pressures around assimilation to American culture and negative views on other cultures, some immigrants may start feeling negative about immigration themselves, especially with fear and anxiety in the mix.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 29

Some descendants of past generations of immigrants may express opposition to immigration because of the brainwashing they experience in America. In America white supremacy is so common in every part of society that it is not surprising someone who may be trying to assimilate into society would end up picking up white supremacist rhetoric. Part of this white supremacist rhetoric is the opposition to immigration. This opposition to immigration largely has to do with the fear and anxiety of white supremacists.

Greenburger’s article “‘Cheap Slaves’: Trump, immigration, and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act,” mentioned a quote from President Arthur talking about how the Act “must have a direct tendency to repel Oriental nations from us and to drive their trade and commerce into more friendly hands.” This is referencing the great amount of fear the United States had for losing cheap Chinese labor. The nation relied and continues to rely on cheap/free labor to keep the poor poor. It was especially interesting to hear about how deportations increased under Obama and it reminded me of hearing him being called “the great deporter”. But in the NPR article it mentioned how 9/11 increased deportations in the US which was also talked about in the PBS special we watched on Asian American hate. 9/11 is a great example of how fear and anxiety culminate into xenophobia. 9/11 made everyone so afraid for their own safety and many wanted someone to blame so they looked to Arab people. This directly relates to how the Yale study On Fear and its effect on political views mentioned fear and anxiety being felt more in conservatives. I found it especially interesting how conservative’s views became more liberal as they felt safer.

Both of the videos seemed to focus on more of what the culmination of all these fears start to look like. The first video with the interview with Jacob Soboroff focused on families being separated at the border. This is the culmination of the fears and anxiety in white supremacists caused by immigration. Conservates have become so afraid of immigrants that they are willing to split apart families to make themselves have a greater perceived notion of safety. The final video about the girl in that camp was another example of the product of xenophobia/American politicians are so terrified of immigrants they want to keep them in a camp outside the US walls. It was heartbreaking to hear her talk about what it was like in this camp and how there are some people bringing candy sometimes.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 17

No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark

Immigration defines our country. The weathered term, “melting pot” used to describe the diverse makeup of America has always sparked pride in our multicultural population, with its origins rooted in immigration throughout our history. Immigration has had the formidable opponents of xenophobia, and white supremacy, taking shape in the form of legislation such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Page Act as well as violence, deportation, and a legacy of systemic racism.

In reference to the Workingmen’s Party of California, Scott S. Greenberg stated, “the party’s anti-Chinese views were rooted in racism and revulsion at the newcomers’ unfamiliar customs,” illustrating the racism and xenophobia veiled behind arguements warning of increased job competition perpetuating the propaganda supporting the Chinese Exclusion Act. It’s this hysteria that began with ‘concern’ over job competition in 1866, that continues today with the rhetoric of “Chinese virus” and the fear surrounding illegal immigration. It’s this widespread anti-immigration furor that illustrates a narrative built on racism that is rooted in blame. Tribalism is human nature and when a population is faced with a threat, in the form of a pandemic, economic instability, etc., the pattern has been to blame the minorities, which in America is non-white citizens and immigrants. John Barge cites the historical rhetoric of America, stating, “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,” architecting a narrative surrounding ‘us and them’. This harmful division amongst Americans along the lines of ‘us’ and ‘them’ has furthered the tribalist nature of anti-immigration furor. The white nationalist pride exemplified through Katie Miller’s sentiment in Separated is what divides this country and creates opposition to immigration. America is a country rich in cultural diversity and steeped in generations of immigrant families, but this concept is feared by many. This fear is what fuels deportations anti-immigration furor, racism, xenophobia and all of the subsequent ramifications within immigrant communities.

“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), at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Convention, Washington, DC, April 21, 1938. Instead of perpetuating an ‘us and them’ narrative, a unifying theme of the recognition that most Americans are all descendants of immigrants should be taught.
iris almonds
Posts: 29

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark”: Why have so many Americans sought (and continue to seek) to close the door to immigrants?

Opposition to immigrants is not a new act of discrimination that spawned with the 21st century. It is not just recently that many Asians have been called “viruses” and it is not just recently that they have been known as “disease carriers”. We can see that in the deep-rooted history of America, immigrants have been discriminated against as early as the 1800s. From the Chinese exclusion act to the formation of anti-Asian hate groups, immigrants have not been treated as they should be treated. As we learned in class, immigrants arriving on angel island were given invasive medical examinations, with the assumption and goal to find some rare disease among them. As stated in the article by Greenberger, the backbone of America is built on a lot of Asian Americans, but they were often not acknowledged (for example, being left out of the picture after the completion of the transcontinental railroad). Asians were referred to as “cheap slaves” and the formation of the Workingmen’s Party in Califonia is just one of the many examples of hate groups formed against Asian Americans. This is not new.

The underlying cause of opposition to immigration is fear. The fear of losing jobs or the fear of becoming the minority shocks and scares many Americans. The idea of fear correlating with anti-immigration laws is illustrated in John Bargh’s article, describing an experiment that dealt with conservatives, liberals, and the idea of fear. Within his research, the research team found that physical safety was of great concern to conservatives. Conservatives react more strongly to physical threats than liberals do and when they felt as if their safety was in danger, they wanted to protect themselves and view the immigrants as “others”. In the study, they found that when conservatives felt safer, their ideals lined up and often did not differ from those who were democrats. This comes to shows that the idea of fear can have a large impact on many thoughts and opinions. Conservative leaders are more likely to emphasize danger instead of doing something about the danger, they often describe the horrors of immigration, terrorism, and associate certain groups of people as “germs”. The fact that a leader puts emphasis on these points, raises a level of fear across the country.

The NPR article talks about how the number of deportations has increased over the years, seeming like with each new law put in place, there is more harm done than good. The article talks about how in 2015, more than 59% of the people deported were criminals, bringing up the idea of safety and concern. It just really comes to show that Americans are thoroughly concerned for their safety, even though many immigrants have it far worse than a lot of Americans.

The migrant kid video told from the perspective of a child, is so eye-opening. It really shows how much children understand about this issue, it shows that little children like them understand that they are being denied entry to America when they need it most. These families and kids are seeking asylum, but are not allowed into the U.S because of strict immigration laws. This connects back to the idea of fear and uncertainty. First, Americans don’t like the fact that these people are within the minority, and second, they fear that these new immigrants will affect the economy in some way. Even today, it seems like the economy and wealth of America come before the need to help others in need. This connects to the covid situation currently in place. There is a huge health crisis going on and at this point, it really seems as if the economy and wealth of America are being prioritized by the government. The fear of losing representation and status also plays a vital part in anti-immigration laws.

In addition, one thing I want to note is that there is a great lack of understanding and communication between immigrants and Americans who are against immigration. I think that Americans should really understand the fact that these immigrants aren’t coming to America for the purpose of stealing jobs or trying to take over America, but it is because they have no other option and that they are in danger. Their home country is at war and America is their last hope.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 28

Why have so many Americans sought (and continue to seek) to close the door to immigrants?

Despite the major contributions immigrants have made to this country, the narrative surrounding immigrants has created a huge opposition against immigration throughout history. Immigrants have been depicted as a threat through ideas such as they’ll “steal jobs” or “immigrants are like viruses.” It was the very idea that immigrants are a threat to the economy and would “depress American wages … that led to the country’s first immigration restriction law: the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882” according to Scott S. Greenberger in his article, ‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act. As we learned in class, there was a very small population of Chinese immigrants in the U.S. when this law came into effect so it can only be explained that the exclusion act was created as a way to scapegoat Asians and blame them for the troubles of America. This way of blaming immigrants has continued to this day. According to NPR’s article, “5 Things To Know About Obama's Enforcement Of Immigration Laws,” deportations accelerated after the Sept. 11 attacks, with growing budgets for the DHS agencies that enforce immigration law. The Sept. 11 attacks was an especially worrisome time for Middle Eastern immigrants because they were blamed and targeted as a whole for the attacks.

The vast majority of the people blaming immigrants are immigrants themselves or are descendents of immigrants, yet they go against other immigrant groups out of fear. This idea of “us” versus “them” has long been perpetuated. The book Separated by Jacob Soboroff contains a quote from Katie Miller saying, “DHS sent me to the border to see the separations for myself-- to try to make me more compassionate-- but it didn’t work.” The lack of sympathy from Katie Miller is common among those against immigration. People don’t care for the well-being of others, they only care about their own safety. The horrid conditions that Genesis, a 9 year old Honduras immigrant, guided through in the video Real America: Out of Sight and Out of Mind by Jorge Ramos should not be allowed by anyone with a sense of compassion. Yet, it is because people don’t have compassion and sympathy for the immigrants that are trying to achieve a better life.

As we can see in politics, conservatives are typically the loudest opposers of immigrants. The view of immigrants as a threat creates extreme fear resulting in opposition to immigration. John Bargh found in his study at Yale that “conservatives, it turns out, react more strongly to physical threat than liberals do” This explains why conservatives tend to be against immigration much more than liberals.

People oppose immigration not only because of the threat they believe comes with immigrants but also because of their mindsets. As fear and anxiety builds, people are so focused on themselves that they do not care what happens to others. They simply want what’s best for them no matter what it costs others. The fear and anxiety that immigrants will take away their opportunities is what continues opposition against immigration despite people being immigrants for themselves. For people against immigration, America is the land of opportunity, but only for those already in America.

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