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Boston, US
Posts: 257


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, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 13

One of the reasons why descendants of past or present generations of immigrants seem to express opposition to immigration is because of the way the country has and continues to treat immigrants. It is as President Arthur says in the ‘Cheap Slaves’ article, “He also noted that the Chinese laborers had made significant contributions to the

development of the West”, we can see that even he agreed that immigrants who had come to this country seeking a better life improved the state of the country as well. Despite the Chinese immigrants helping the country, we still passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, twice! Seeing this behavior from the place that is supposed to provide you with amazing opportunities is extremely disheartening and can cause people to despise the country which I don’t blame them for. It is this kind of behavior that makes people oppose immigration.

Another reason for this opposition is related to the fear that comes with immigration, more specifically related to deportation. The sentiment of coming to America in order to seek a better life is still extremely present amongst immigrants except a large deterrent to immigration is often deportation. This only makes sense after examining the rise in deportations talked about in the article on Obama’s Enforcement of Immigration Laws. Despite Obama’s efforts with DACA to provide young immigrant children who had no choice in coming to the country, that doesn’t completely wipe away the rise in deportations under his administration. People will hear these two things and feel extremely conflicted. They’ll hear that the president is making an effort to help immigrants, youth as of right now, but then they hear about the rise in deportations and that causes a lot of turmoil when it comes to the decision of whether or not to immigrate. More often than not, fear wins and immigrants and their descendants seem to oppose immigration.

A large portion of the anxiety that immigrants feel comes from the situation at the border and all the detention facilities. Not only are the qualities of those facilities terrible, but it is more so the mental trauma that comes with going to them that is what people are scared of. As of right now, children are being separated from their families even in the midst of the pandemic. That is what the video of Jacob Soboroff’s book was talking about. They even mentioned how the former Department of Homeland Security spokesperson said that seeing the children's separations down in the detention facilities didn’t make her more compassionate. And this is where the fear and anxiety originates from. In this country, there is an unprecedented lack of compassion for anyone and everyone. Those at the top refuse to acknowledge those at the bottom and help them. This lack of compassion is even present within those at the bottom. The lack of compassion for people fleeing from terrible conditions or even just those seeking a better life or a fresh start is what causes many immigrants and their descendants to seemingly express opposition to immigration.

boston, Ma, US
Posts: 16

“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?

Immigration has always been either viewed as something to fear or something that can change someone's life for the better. The United States has welcomed millions of people to their new home who's allowed them to fulfill their dreams and succeed. But the people who are able to thrive in this country are filtered. From personal experiences, white looking people seem to have no issues coming to the US. They fill our forms, maybe wait awhile but their race does not set them behind. Minorities and non-white people seem to have more of an issue.

I think it's easy for people who have lived in the United States for generations to forget that they too come from an immigrant background. Instead they believe they are the TRUE americans, forgetting the indiginous people who had already been here. With that being said, they entitle a position of power that does not belong to anyone. Generally speaking, liberals tend to favor immigration while republicans don't. John Bargh and his colleagues conducted an experiment to see if republicans could be turned into liberals. And they did. It has been proven that kids who have been living in fear or surrounded by fear at a young age tend to view new changes as threats and so respond with violence.

“In fact, anti-immigration attitudes are also linked directly to the underlying basic drive for physical safety.'' Throughout history, immigrants have been viewed by leaders as germs and bacteria, creating a stigma that new people entering communities would come with plague and sickness. Closing the mind of people who feared this. The thing that would have prevented this was if these leaders didn't engrave ideas about immigrants to their people who would later engrave them into future generations.

Many people also feared immgration because they are scared that their jobs and opportunities will be stripped from them if there are more people who allegedly could have more skill than them. Our country has been built on a foundation that strives to be the best, to have the biggest of everything, the fastest,tallest. But what it has always lacked is the slow rhythm that allows for a nation to not be as greedy and learn to share from another.
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