posts 1 - 15 of 18
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
Posts: 27
  • The reason so many people vehemently oppose new immigration is based in fear, whether it be economic fears based in a history of misinformation, or based on media and specific phrases used to target our innate survival instincts. But when one considers the history of the United States, long known as a “melting pot” and the “land of opportunity” for so many immigrants across the world, it’s incredibly odd so many descendants of these same immigrants have began to aggressively oppose immigration, but not surprising when you examine the history of the United States more closely.
  • Much like how fascism was explained in the book How Fascism Works by Jason Stanley, anti-immigration fears can also be seen operating successfully in an “us vs. them” mentality that pits current immigrants against United States citizens of today, more specifically white Americans of today. Not only is this logic flawed, it also fails to acknowledge all white Americans are descended from immigrants. In the article “Cheap Slaves: Trump, Immigration, and the Ugly History of the Chinese Exclusion Act” the writer discusses an anti-immigration advocated named Denis Kearney, who was oddly an Irish immigrant himself. Kearney created the Workingmen’s Party of California in 1877, which he used as a vehicle to advocate against Chinese migrants who worked in the United States. His inflamed words throughout the article contributed to the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first restriction of immigration in US history, and perpetuated an “us vs them” mentality, where he used his privilege as a white immigrant to distance himself from other immigrants. He used his words to play on the fear of working Americans, telling them the Chinese immigrants were “taking their jobs”- rhetoric we hear even today from anti-immigration politicians who conceal their dislike of new immigration as a concern for the economic prosperity of the American public.
  • Another big factor contributing to the opposition of immigration by so many people who are descended from immigrants themselves is actually a result of our own subconscious, and the targeted language that may seem small in passing but actually triggers a response deep down in our minds. In the Yale article they discuss how conservatives react more strongly to the implications of physical pain, so when language used for immigration implies physical danger, such as “immigrants are like viruses,” it triggers a reaction in peoples’ minds, which is to naturally keep away from things seen as dangerous. Even though in one’s rational mind they know immigrants do not bring viruses, when people use language like this, it plays into the anxiety and fear of your subconscious.
  • In the “Out of Sight and Out of Mind” video, they follow a nine year old living in a border camp under the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which sends people who’s asylum claims are not seen as “meritorious” back to their country of origin as they wait for their asylum hearings. These hearings most times take years, and in this camp Genesis is unable to be educated properly, and talks about her friend’s struggles to get medicine in the camp they are in. Despite the change in how immigration is handled in recent years, the asylum process has not changed, and the polarization of immigration, especially how it is spoken about by politicians, has left many Americans blind to the state of our current immigration system. Politicians use this as a chance to polarize the American public even further, creating another “us vs. them mentality” and using it as another issue in their campaigns, failing to understand it is an issue that affects real people.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

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

Fear I believe plays the biggest role in this situation because in most cases fear will outweigh comfort and if there is something feared it will not be ignored or overlooked. In this case many feelings concerning immigration are very fear driven and often one can be blinded by fear. This to me is very hypocritical and in some ways ironic, when individuals who are direct descendants of immigrants try to prevent immigration. Also when many turn away those seeking asylum in a country which is supposed to be the land of freedom and opportunity. Many feel as if they are above the rest of the world with the United States being such a powerful country and a very 1st world country. Many do not look at what the United States was built on and what it is supposed to represent and be. Many of these immigrants are seeking asylum in the “greatest country in the world” from the struggles and often terror of their country, but are being turned away out of fear. In the “Out of Sight and Out of Mind” video, they follow a nine year old living in a camp under the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which sends people back to their country of origin while they wait for their asylum hearings. These hearings can take years and make it sometimes more difficult and just makes the “line to get in” so much longer. This video was very interesting because it showed what many people don't see. The reason that many people are blind to many immigration problems and the cause for numerous other conflicts and misconceptions is that people are not educated. Unfortunately the immigratgion crisis is also used way too often in politics and not in the solution sense. Politicians use it to boost support on one side or the other and use it to in some ways dehumanize those going through the immigration process and do not speak about them or recognize them as real people going through a real problem. This many times creates an even further separation between the United States and its citizens and those in the rest of the world. I think fear whether it be of cultural change, economic change or any other number of changes I think the fear and anxiety over it causes the problems and conflicts we have today. There needs to be more direct dialogue and proactive attempts to solve the situation and once again more people need to be informed on the real problem and to act for what this country really stands for.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Assimilation and Fear

A major element of the strong opposition to immigration is pure and simple racism and classism. In the United States, there are few objections to immigrants (or “expatriates”, as they are often somehow less offensively described) from white, wealthy countries in Europe. As is well-taught in US History classes and we saw in the work we have done in class, the first immigrants to the United States (excluding enslaved Africans taken against their will) were WASPs from England and other countries in Northwestern Europe. As Europeans from other regions in Europe began to arrive, they certainly faced discrimination, but these identities have in the modern day generally ceased to be seen as particularly “foreign” and have become integrated into the American culture, e.g. Irish- or Italian-Americans (perhaps also as the flow of immigrants from these nations has stopped).

However, we see that the same has not been the case for immigrants who are not perceived as “white”. Despite Chinese immigration having existed in the United States since the mid-1800s, the Chinese identity is perceived in a fundamentally different way. As the Greenberger article describes, Denis Keaney, an Irish immigrant, founded the Workingmen’s Party of California. This organization was dedicated to anti-Chinese politics and lobbying, and its “anti-Chinese views were rooted in racism and revulsion at the newcomers’ unfamiliar customs.” Despite Keaney being an immigrant himself, the racial, cultural, and perhaps linguistic similarity between himself and the domestic-born white American population somehow made him an immigrant of a different ilk than the ones he so viciously opposed.

Another important element, discussed in the Bargh Washington Post article, is the power of fear. Much of the resistance to immigration then and now is centered around a fear of losing economic security: Denis Kearney wrote, ““[The American aristocracy] 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.” In a sense, his point is important: corporations then and now do use cheap labor, either that of overseas workers in sweatshops or undocumented workers who are unable to organize for higher pay for fear of being deported, to avoid paying livable wages to their employees. However, the fault in this does not lie on the immigrants trying to seek a better life for themselves, but rather the businesses and the legal system which allows this to happen: thus the importance of minimum wage and labor laws which protect workers’ legal rights whether they be immigrants or not.

President Trump, whose zeal in deporting immigrants was described in Scott Horsley’s NPR article, used this type of fear as well as many others to motivate his policy. He played to fears of job security, but also of physical security, painting immigrants from Mexico and Central America as criminals, cartel members, rapists, etc. who would bring social chaos and corrupt American moral norms. As the WaPo article illustrated, when people are subjected to fear for their own safety and security, they become more conservative: naturally, since conservatism emphasizes that it will address chaos, violence, and immorality and through law, bring order. The article also showed that when these fears are alleviated, people tend to become more liberal and more open-minded.

In the social psychology videos by Jonathan Haidt, he argued that cultural differences are what promote these fears, and that a relatively monolithic culture is necessary to end fear and anxiety and thus have a liberal, free-minded society. I don’t agree, but I think his point illustrates why many people in the U.S. put so much emphasis on assimilation. In the Jacob Soboroff video, he quoted Katie Miller, an advisor to Mike Pence, as saying “...I believe if you come to America you should assimilate. Why do we need to have ‘Little Havana’?” To the conservative mind, assimilation is necessary to have social order and to alleviate fears of the “other”. These assimilationist ideas, while relatively limited to conservatives in the U.S., are espoused by left-wing politicians and commentators in Europe as well, such as Pim Fortuyn, a former Marxist who became immensely opposed to Muslim immigrants, promoting a version of economically left-wing, pro-LGBT white supremacy.

Fear is in a way on both sides of the equation: many immigrants, like the family of Genesis, the young girl from Honduras who described the terrible conditions at the camps on the US-Mexico border in the Jorge Ramos video, flee their native countries because of fear of persecution, violence, or economic devastation, and this has been the case throughout the history of the United States. However, these fears are of a different sort than those of the white conservative imagination: they are much more concrete, an active, immediate threat to physical safety, rather than an abstract menace to the concept of “law and order”.

We can synthesize from all of these ideas that the difference seems to be one of assimilation. Immigrants, or descendants of immigrants who are able to most conform to the mainstream (by being white, coming from an Anglophone country, being Christian, etc.) seem to often draw a distinction between themselves and “unassimilated” immigrants who do not fit the supposed American archetype in one way or another. Assimilation is a complicated question: there are cultural norms of LGBT or women’s rights, democracy, etc. that do not exist in some other cultures. Does this mean that we should steamroll the rich diversity of cultures in the United States which is foundational to its literary, artistic, and cultural greatness? Most certainly not. However, we do need to center it as the core of discussions around immigration, as assimilation and the fears surrounding it or a lack of it are what lie at the heart of a great many social issues in today’s world.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

Ultimately, fear is at the root of immigration opposition, even if it is irrational. Throughout history, different minorities have been targeted and scapegoated for various things, most commonly for disease outbreaks and ‘threats to the economy’ through cheap labor. Hate targeting Asian-Americans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic originating in China is a key example of this.

With regards to immigration specifically, John Bargh explains that according to an experiment that he was part of conducting at Yale University, “anti-immigration attitudes are also linked directly to the underlying basic drive for physical safety.” People who oppose immigration believe that by preventing it, they are protecting themselves.

Fear has always been used as a political tactic, as it is very effective in controlling a group of people. Right-wing politicians often utilize fear as a way to convince people that their policies are protective measures. For example, in the article “‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act,” it references when Donald Trump said that “he aimed to help Americans “competing for jobs against brand-new arrivals.” in reference to a Senate proposal that would affect immigration. When public figures say things like that, it promotes the idea that immigrants are an inherent threat to the country, despite that not being the case.

As far as why there are people who are descendants of immigrants opposing immigration, I think that has to do with assimilation. Those who oppose immigration for the majority have ‘assimilated’ into American culture in the eyes of society.

The metaphor of the ‘melting pot’ for the United States is that all the different people and cultures who come to the country blend together to create one, “American” culture. However, celebrating the culture of where one came from should not be looked down upon. In an interview with the author of Separated: Inside an American Tragedy, Jacob Soboroff, former Department of Homeland Security spokesperson, and Mike Pence’s spokesperson’s comment on immigration was referenced: “This “I believe if you come to America you should assimilate. Why do we need to have ‘Little Havana’?”. Little Havana is a neighborhood in Miami that has a large immigrant population, so she questions why the culture that the people living there are a part of needs to continue being recognized in the U.S.

This fear of people being ‘different’ or ‘foreign’ is xenophobia, which I would say is the most condensed way to explain why people oppose immigration.

Although you can explain to some degree why people choose to blatantly oppose allowing people from other countries to enter the US, I find it very hard to understand how there is such a lack of empathy for others, who are most of the time seeking asylum from the dangerous situation they are currently in.

In the Jorge Ramos video, a nine-year-old girl named Genesis, who is currently in a detainment camp, explains the terrible conditions she was living in that led her family to attempt to come to the US. They were driven from their home by fear and simply seek a better life.

Fear is a powerful thing. We have to confront fears as a country and address them properly, instead of taking the easiest way out.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

Opposing Immigration and Closing Doors

Everyone in the US is descended from immigrants, yet still millions of us every year vote to keep immigrants out. This is because of a fear, and the goal of protecting "Americanism" whatever that may be.

Carlos Fuentes in 1997 wrote, "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.” His summary of his identity, as neither white nor Mexican, represents a uniquely American and second generation-experience, a kind of in between and mixing of cultures. Even as second generation immigrants, or possibly even first, those from one's county of origin are already "othered." It is not always the goal of the immigrant to leave behind their culture, but, entrance to America, such as literacy tests or even explicit exclusion acts like the Chinese Exclusion act (which wasn't repealed until 1943) make it nearly impossible for anyone who doesn't conform to white standards to enter. As Katie Miller stated in the video, "If you come to America, you should assimilate.”

After being stripped of their original identity, possibly even before they enter the US, the immigrant is now caught between identities. Never "American" enough to be granted their families, never Chinese, or Mexican, or Japanese enough to return home. Newcomers have no other option but to "integrate" and adapt American ideals. Even under a more liberal administration like Obama's, hundreds of thousands of Americans were deported. Obama focused his attention more to the border (where those crossing had likely not assimilated), and allowed those who lived within the country are granted "greater flexibility," especially if they had been here for over 3 years. Although not deporting people who live here is a good start, one must question Obama's goals. When you look at this policy from a less Americanized lens, you see that he let people stay who had taken American jobs, learned English, and were ready to leave behind Mexican or South American extended family. Only then could they stay here, and maybe even bring their children here, under the assumption that those children attend American schools.

The American ideals immigrants need to adapt when they enter may even include hatred and fear of the very groups they come from. It doesn't matter. If following along with the xenophobia around them gets them to jobs, or a better future for their children, immigrants will take opportunity. As John Bargh illustrates in his article about conservative politics and their roots in fear, "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." All Americans come together in the gut fear of the other. Of a threat. Our only way to stop it is to reason with this fear, both personally and politically.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 22

There’s a mix of reasons as to why people might oppose immigration to the united states, and the most prevalent ones are concern for the economy and xenophobia.

Immigrants always have times where the government and ordinary citizens couldn’t get enough of them, specifically during economic booms, and the times where they aren’t tolerated is during the economy's decline. For example, when the transcontinental railroad was being built, there was a demand for cheap labor, so the government and those working on the railroad appreciated the incoming Chinese immigrants who were willing to work. However, as soon as the railroad was finished and the Chinese began to take other jobs that might have normally been occupied by white workers, there was an influx of hate and desire for anti-Chinese and anti-immigration laws.

‘Othering’ is one way that makes all of this very easy. By carrying the mentality that there’s two separate groups of people, one involving yourself and the other having nothing to do with you, it’s very easy to disregard yourself in many situations like this one. In the process of othering those groups of people, you no longer acknowledge the problems they face and suffer through because it doesn’t directly hurt you, so it doesn’t matter as much. Of course othering is harmful when anyone does it, but it is especially harmful when white people do it. The privilege they carry, even as immigrants, is something that instantly puts them a step higher than everyone else. In ‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act, an Irish immigrant named Denis Kearney founded the Workingmen’s Party of California. This group went on to be extremely harmful to Chinese immigrants, making way for the Chinese Exclusion Act to flourish. Quite the hypocritical thing to do considering the fact that Kearney was literally an immigrant himself, but it shows the superiority complex that white people had, and still do have.

This othering ends up coming hand in hand with xenophobia. Propaganda that's spread about groups of immigrants creates a false image, one that most often tends to criminalize these groups, and causes those who aren’t in the marginalized immigrant groups to develop a subliminal, harmful opinion about these people.

This grouping together into certain categories and falsely associating characteristics with certain groups ends up creating this fear, whether it be conscious or subconscious, that fuels this xenophobia.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

The "Issue" of Immigration

Opposition to immigration is deeply rooted in the United States' history. For a country that has been founded on immigration, the strength and persistence of this opposition is so confusing, and the fact that it still persists presently does not put me at ease.

I feel like the strongest reasoning for opposition to immigration is this "Us vs. Them" mentality. Throughout history, immigrants are always pressured to assimilate into "American culture", taking them out of the "Them" group and mixing into the "Us", but with this pressure begs the question, what does assimilate even mean? What constitutes as "American culture"? People who are different are always pressured to stop being different because people can't accept the fact that not everyone has to be the same. I find it insane that people still think that people who are different have to stop it because Americans are uncomfortable. EVEN IF (and heavy on the even if) assimilation was the proper response to the "issue" of immigration, it would never matter because immigrants will continue to be seen as different and separate. I often hear people say that America is a melting pot of cultures, which in some ways is true seeing that we have so many different cultures in the U.S., but the idea of a "melting pot" makes it seem like there are all these different ingredients and flavors that are combining homogenously, creating a more delicious stew where you can taste each individual ingredient, but we all know that this is NOTHING like America. Instead, America is like a cold pot. NOTHING is mixing. Instead, all of the ingredients sit in the pot separated and in their own corners of the pot. In the interview with Jacob Soboroff on his book "Separated: Inside an American Tragedy", Soboroff quotes Katie Miller who asks “Why do we need to have ‘Little Havana’?" Americans have this thought where they believe that the ingredients in the pot shouldn't mix and that they belong to their little area in the pot. Then they think that since those ingredients shouldn't mix, "Why are they here? They are just taking up space." THIS. This is the mindset I'm talking about because no matter WHAT immigrants will do, they will always be seen as some other group that doesn't belong in the pot. This quote struck a chord with me specifically because last year, a man at my family's church told my dad that he and all the Viets needed to leave because "we can't make Dorchester into Little Saigon." Funny how it's almost along the same lines as Miller's quote right?

Another reason would be this fear that people will lose all of their jobs to immigrants. Unfortunately, this fear that people have was strengthened by Donald Trump while he was in office. For someone with so much power to publicly legitimize this false fear that people have is unbelievable. In Greenberger's article in the Washington Post, he writes about Trump's remarks after his administration had implemented stricter immigration laws and how Trump said he was aiming to help Americans who were “competing for jobs against brand-new arrivals.” Trump's statements contribute to this belief that immigrant workers are harmful to American wages is the same racist and discriminatory ideology rooted in the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was passed at a time when Chinese were being attacked for taking on lower wages. This rooted fear has festered and persisted for centuries, and it continues today. Coming from a family of immigrants, it baffles me to see the discrimination that we experience on a day to day basis. To see our government officials completely disregard 47 million Americans still confuses me, and I honestly don't think I will ever understand how people can be so afraid of immigrants.

caramel washington
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

A number of immigrants are satisfied with their success within a country, and are concerned that they will lose it all because of the next people who arrive. These beliefs are frequently seen against a group from another place, with a different ethnic identity, because it is harder to see your own hypocrisy when it can be justified by racial bias. For example, according to the Washington Post in 2017, Denis Kearney, an Irish immigrant, found success in America through his business hauling goods. Responding to high unemployment and a nationwide railroad strike, Kearney in 1877 founded the Workingmen’s Party of California. The party objected to the Chinese workers’ willingness to toil for low wages on railroads and in mines. But the party’s anti-Chinese views were rooted in racism and revulsion at the newcomers’ unfamiliar customs.

This fear of the unknown can be tied to someone’s political leanings. 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. When conservatives feel that they are completely safe, however, it has been proven that they no longer fear social change. Politicians can use this rhetoric to either promote social change or scare people away from it. This is why it makes sense that liberal politicians intuitively portray danger as manageable, 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. Minority groups and immigrants are frequently compared to germs, or seen as threats to people’s livelihoods, which promotes people’s innate fear reactions.

This fear can have absolutely devastating ramifications for the people that it impacts. For example, Jacob Soboroff, author of Separated, talks about children being kept in detention centers and separated from their families under the Trump administration. Additionally, during the pandemic the infection rates are spiking at these ICE facilities and have “run rampant”. The government also won’t keep track of the lists of separated children. Americans are to some extent willing to excuse these conditions because of the dehumanizing effects of viewing immigrants as “other”. Many Americans don’t pay much attention to these stories on a day to day basis, so it can slip from one’s mind.

Clearly fear can play a huge role in causing people to lose respect for fellow human beings.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 22

It seems as though opposition to immigration is greatly rooted in the idea of fear. When economic or social tensions run high within a country, morale inherently gets low, fear takes over, and suddenly immigration becomes an easy scapegoat by which anyone can blame their troubles on. An example of this appeared in the Washington Post article entitled, “Cheap Slaves: Trump, Immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act.” During the peak of the Gold Rush, when there was a steady abundance of money and a booming economy, there was also a clear reduction of belligerence aimed towards the Chinese. Without the presence of fear, discrimination and anti-immigration rhetoric was a much less pressing issue among Americans. Granted, US citizens have never welcomed immigrants with open arms, but at the very least, during this time the Chinese were ‘tolerated.’ When the economy began to crash, however, and many people became out of work, the Chinese were quickly villainized and isolated for their cultural differences, and they were painted in a light that depicted them as the root cause of America’s current dilemma. As soon as people grew afraid for their well-being, they found an excuse that conveniently took all of the blame off their shoulders.

The allusion to fear was also talked about in the NPR article discussing immigration policy during the Obama administration, called “Obama’s Enforcement of Immigration Laws: 5 Things to Know.” Statistics show that deportations within the United States accelerated rapidly after 9/11 occurred. It is no secret that the collapse of the Twin Towers did an irrevocable number on the US, as citizens were distraught, angry, and most of all, afraid. Once again, immigrants became a scapegoat for all the worries of Americans, shown through the increase of deportations. DHS agencies that enforced immigration policy received increased budgets, and many deportations became carried out without judicial review. The Us vs. Them mentality seems to thrive in rough social, economic, and political climates, and regardless of geographical proximity, immigrants are continued to be viewed as the enemy. This mentality is also shown through the MSNBC interview with Jacob Soboroff, which discusses the separation of children from their parents at the US border. In his book “Separated,” Soboroff quotes a spokesperson for Mike Pence, who revealed that immigrants should assimilate with American culture upon their arrival. Statements such as this further emphasize the American ideology that those migrating from different regions are inferior, and therefore are of less value within the United States.

The experiment that John Bargh facilitated at Yale once again dealt with the notion of fear, particularly how it is utilized to infiltrate the ideologies of political parties. The survey that was conducted showed that participants who were conservative had much stronger reactions to physical threat in comparison with liberals. When looking at this in terms of issues like immigration, conservatives are more prone to oppose social progression due to an irrational fear that the presence of minorities will somehow place them in grave danger. The experiment proved that those who are subconsciously driven by fear have a much higher rate of being right-leaning and anti-immigration. The mainstream media and toxic political environment within America is tied to this as well, since both use fear as a way to promote differing political agendas. When President Trump publicly called immigrants “disgusting,” he was also fueling people’s fear that immigrants are “viruses” and therefore are a hazard to the general public. As a result, with the influence of the media, along with a subconscious mindset of survival, it’s no wonder that people continue to show hostility towards immigrants.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Why Americans are trying to close the door to Immigrants

While many people are descendants of immigrants that came to America in order to escape persecution and find a better life, these descendants have turned against immigration, looking for ways to close the institution down. I believe these descendants have turned against immigration for numerous reasons, but one main reason is the belief that they are true Americans and only white European immigrants can transform into true Americans. These people believe that after decades of living in the United States and assimilating to the “American” culture they have transformed into true Americans, like other European immigrants and ethnic groups have done before. While they believe that they were able to become “true” Americans, they do not think other people of different backgrounds and ethnic groups would be able to become true Americans. These groups will simply ruin and degregate America, drastically changing the racial and ethnic background of the country. Thus the descendants have turned against immigration in order to preserve their belief and view of America so that they will be able to control and continue their “true” American way of life. They simply wish to keep America as white as possible so that they will be able to control and wield massive amounts of power in the country, as their ancestors had done for centuries. In order to continue to control the country and keep the power that their ancestors and immigrated to the United States to amass, these descendants have increased immigration enforcement and passed harsher immigration laws starting with the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. This descendants hope that with increased immigration control and harsher penalties, including deportation, less people of specific ethnic, racial and religious groups, mainly Central and South Americans and Muslim refugees, will come to the United States and be able to establish a new thriving life. They believe that these penalties will haunt the refugees and immigrants, forcing them to remain hidden from the government and unable to take complete control over their new lives and establish themselves in their new homes. Even some first generation immigrant children decide to move back to their old home due to the racist and xenephobic harassment they and their family are forced to live through in order to live in their home. These groups are so focused at keeping America white and preserving the “American” culture, they have grown calloused to the treatment of illegals. As more people are rounded up and deported from the United States, lawmakers and voters have begun to become more vicious and less empathetic towards the Illegals and their worries. They simply do not care how they are treated, they just want them out of “their” country. Thus migrant facilities have decayed and become horrible places and institutions for the poor migrants that are caught. The horrible state of American immigration and the rise of isolationist views are driven by the fear of immigrants and the changing of the “American”, that the descendents of immigrants believed they created and could only be maintained by them.

Blue terrier
Posts: 23

The opposition of immigration in the United States, the so-called “melting pot,” has been prevalent for hundreds of years. Socially, immigrants and other minority groups face racism everyday, whether that be microaggressions, implicit bias, or violent and blatant hate crimes. Legally, as we saw in our group work, these same groups have been historically oppressed, as we saw through the anti Asian legislation that was passed to deny these groups naturalization and citizenship, purely based on ethnicity or racial identity. This legislation started back in 1882 through The Chinese Exclusion Act, which the first article referred to as “the first significant restriction on free immigration in U.S. history.” This paved the way for hundreds of years of anti immigrant legislation, from Trump’s Muslim Ban, to Obama’s mass deportations, to anti miscegintation laws throughout the 20th century. So the big question is why? Why has the so-called “land of opportunity” been welcoming for so few?

Much of this anti immigration rhetoric, especially today, stems from an economic fear of immigrant groups. Free market capitalism, which Americans hold so dear to their heart, is a system which gives no room for any mess up or disruption in one’s life. One setback could send an American economically spiraling out of control into poverty. When Americans see an outside group enter the United States, their immediate response is to fear that these groups could be their economic disruption, with common rhetoric being that immigrants will take “hard working” American jobs and destroy the integrity of the U.S. economy. In fact immigration has historically promoted economic growth and development.

In the John Bargh article, we learned that conservatives respond to fear more with violent aggression than their liberal counterparts. We also learned that conservatives more than liberals believe immigration to be an issue in the United States, and would want to see more anti immigration laws in the U.S. With these conservative ideologies in mind, it would make sense that this group (which makes up about 38% of the U.S. population), holds deeply hateful and aggressive opinions about immigrants. To answer the other question, descendants of past or present immigrants are indoctrinated by U.S. attitudes, and speech, subconsciously or consciously, to hate immigrants, even though they themselves are products of immigration.

Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 17

Anti-immigration sentiments have been present for all of the US’s history. It started as prejudices against other groups of Europeans but quickly spread as feelings of animosity towards other races and ethnicities. The first law was of course the Chinese Exclusion Act but there have since been countless attempts by the government to curb immigration. The most obvious example in recent times was the Muslim ban during Trump’s presidency but there were also many deportations under Obama especially during the beginning of his presidency (NPR article).

It seems odd that in a country built on immigration with the vast majority of our society coming from places abroad that there be such this negativity towards immigration. It is abundantly obvious the power that immigration has when you look at the US as a case study why are people so opposed to it. The answer can be found in the ladder exercise that we did in class and the John Bargh article at the Washington post. It is all due to fear and feeling threatened. When an animal feels threatened it starts to get defensive and that is exactly what people that are against immigration do.

What are these people afraid of? There jobs, maybe, that was a big reason why the Chinese exclusion act was passed and is a common fear mongering tactic used by people against immigration. Think of Trump fear mongering about people coming through the southern border. Their families. This is also likely as the propaganda that we saw in class depicted people as monsters and made it seem like they were coming to kill and rape people in your families. The biggest thing that these two have in common, and the many other reasons people are against immigration, is a fear for peoples’ personal safety or the safety of their loved ones.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

Fear is the primary motivator of opposition to immigration. This seems strange considering the United States is entirely made up of immigrants, aside from Native peoples, but throughout our history immigrants have always been made to be an ‘other’. Except, it isn’t simply immigrants from any country- it is specifically non-white immigrants that make up this ‘other’. In Scott Greenberger’s Article, “Cheap Slaves: Trump, Immigration, and the Ugly History of the Chinese Exclusion Act” he mentions Denis Kearney, who despite being an immigrant himself, was staunchly anti-Chinese. He opposed their presence in the United States not because they were immigrants, but because they were not white, and therefore did not fit into his idea of what America should be. Denis Kearney was around a long time ago, but the fear of the other is still very much alive. In Jacob Soboroff’s interview with Katie Miller, she expressed her views in support of assimilation, asking, “Why should we have a Little Havana?” The presence of cultures other then her own clearly make Ms. Miller uncomfortable, and this likely stems from fear. She fears this other, and does not want to be around it- so opposes other cultures coming here in the first place, and if they do she wants them to be just like her, because she is afraid. In most situations, fear trumps compassion; when a person is afraid of something it is easy for them to do incredibly cruel things to get rid of that thing. Americans who oppose immigration are driven by fear, and so have no problem subjecting them, if indirectly, to incredibly inhumane things. Katie Miller went to the border, saw people like Genesis forced to live in awful conditions after fleeing for their own safety, and didn’t feel an ounce of sympathy, because her fear outweighed everything else. Earlier in the year we learned about a study done with college admissions, where admissions staff only discriminated based on race after being shown articles about white people becoming the minority. John Bargh’s article, “At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions.” has a very similar premise. Removing fear, and imagining a completely safe environment essentially turned conservative opinions liberal. These fears in recent years were largely driven by careless and racist statements by people like Donald Trump, who claimed that immigrants would steal jobs, and that they were all rapists. Despite these being baseless and ignorant claims, it created the atmosphere necessary to garner support for anti-immigration policies. People felt as though there was a threat, so once again, turned on the ‘other.’

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 16

Personally, I think some descendants of past or present generations of immigrants seem to express opposition to immigration due to a false sense of superiority. If someone believes that they established themselves the “right” way, it can lead them to think that they are the only ones who have the right to be in the new country. Other people can be seen as a threat because they didn’t go through the same struggles or laws that the person did. The motivation to deport illegal immigrants from the United States is not a new effort. Presidents have been deporting thousands of people for years, but some, like former President Trump, have taken pride in making that the main goal for their presidency. In a quote by Trump, he states that “Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I'm going to do the same thing”. He tries to justify the act of deporting thousands of human beings by saying that other presidents have done it before him. However, this is obviously not justifiable. Simply because people in the past have done some bad things, it doesn't mean that it is ok to do the same thing. Lots of supporters of President Trump openly admired his immigration policy because they believed that he was doing the country a favor and protecting the citizens who “deserved to be here”. Presidents and people in power have used fear to convince their followers that those who immigrate illegally are mostly criminals who are stealing jobs and money from the “true citizens''. This use of fear manipulates people who don’t really know any better to form heavily anti-immigration beliefs. In the article discussing the tests run by Yale, it states that “Keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe from harm is perhaps our strongest human motivation, deeply embedded in our very DNA.” If this protection is threatened, people resort to extreme measures. Those in power can then manipulate the population to think that a certain group of people is a threat. Depending on certain views, even if they are immigrants or descendants of immigrants themselves, people can turn against all immigrants, leading to a rise in anti-immigration thinking. Especially now, people can think that illegal immigrants will lead to a rise in COVID-19 cases in the United States. The interview on MSNBC, describes how infection rates of COVID are very high in ICE facilities which is an awful thing, especially for migrant families. Their children can be separated from them in the name of public safety, but that is not really an excuse to rip families apart. The entire world is scared of rising COVID cases, so now immigration is seen as yet another cause of a rising problem. Fear is such a strong and dangerous emotion that if leaders can control fear, they can control entire nations and countries of millions of people.
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