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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, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

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: 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?

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.
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 24

Find Some Middle Ground, and a heart!!

Through the videos, I gained a better understanding of why people would come to the US in the first place. These families are fleeing a nightmare in their homelands where cocaine is sold outside of schools and young children who should be allowed to enjoy life without worrying about their survival fear for their lives every day. In these unsanitary camps, families are forced to wait for an unknown amount of months before they get a hearing and then wait even longer after being rejected. The specific case of this girl Genesis had school once a week and was so grateful for it. The situation of these families puts everything into perspective and it is extremely saddening to see these 56,000+ people torn apart with the possibility of never reuniting again. I think if the judges Trump put in charge of immigration at the border don’t allow people to come into the US, we should be doing something more to make conditions better in South America. It is completely heartless and illogical for the people that are against immigration to not be swayed the least to change their views. The children I saw in the video at the camps should be our fellow classmates. It was a bit shocking to see how much Genesis, a nine year old, understood about her situation and that she was really making the best out of it. These kids are so motivated because they’ve experienced the worst.

Jacob Soboroff was talking about how COVID has plagued the ICE detention centers and worsened the situation. There was also a list that one of Trump’s admins wanted to throw away that had the list of families detained that was the only key to ever reuniting them. Thousands continue to be separated and I don’t think there’s any way that all of them will find their parents again. The whole system is unfair. They are innocent people who want to give themselves and their kids better opportunities because they deserve it just like you and me. When they get to the camps, they are made to wait in horrible conditions and rely on this false hope that they could at any moment be accepted to come to the US, or die. Then they are just sent back home or to another country that was what they ran from. The Remain in Mexico policy allows migrants to be sent to Mexico to await their hearings, but they’re seeking asylum. What help is that doing by keeping them there! It was started under Trump and I’m pretty sure Biden is keeping it. It’s strange to imagine what happened before all this government regulation when people could come over unchecked and try making a life for themselves. I wonder if it was still like that. People are letting fear get in the way of humanity. Helping others is much more fulfilling than crushing their dreams.

The US has its own problems and it is saying a lot that people are desperate to come here. I don’t see how people opposed to immigration aren’t doing it out of fear. Some things I could think of are being scared of, like how the Japanese were kicked out and attacked, immigrants taking over jobs and creating more competition. In my other history class, we were just talking about laissez faire and creating natural competition in the economy and from a capitalist point of view, this healthy competition could be “good.” But most of the immigrants don’t have the means to come to the US with a full plan and be financially stable. They are coming to save themselves out of desperation. Nationwide, there are huge homeless populations and impoverishment is plenty. While there are many organizations and people contributing to helping the victims of poverty, there is so much stigma around it. People think people become homeless because of drugs and their own choices, which is sometimes the case, but other times it’s unavoidable like aging out of the foster system or fleeing abuse of some sort and not having the resources to know about shelters. This is still a major issue in this country that deserves attention and I think people are scared that they are funneling their tax money into helping poorer people so if more come, it’ll stress the current situation. There’s US pride and people thinking that because their ancestors came to the US and they’ve lived here for a while, they built it and nobody deserves to walk over their nation or do something out of tradition. People fear change so having immigrants come and bring their culture would “take power away” from people in power who think they’ve “earned it”. The mindset should be that everybody deserves safety and the Washington Post article describes Trump using fear as a motivator for popularity by viewing immigrants as germs that will infect the nation. It was such an interesting study that concluded how easy it was to change someone's mind based on their levels of perceived safety from their perceived threat. I think we need to work on changing the stigma surrounding immigrants and how negatively they’ve been painted, basically as inhuman. People are refusing to accept the truth of the situation because it is easier to avoid difficult things. If we as a nation take on this effort to help the immigrants, which we obviously should, then we would have to work cohesively. Political sides and social sides to issues are also influencing thoughts on immigration, like how in class we talked about having private voting ballots so people can’t influence you or judge you. If this person is for immigration but they’re this religion, then I won’t be- that’s probably happening and is a bigger issue of systemic -isms. From a different perspective, how can we as a nation support such a large amount of people? Honestly I'm not sure how that would work but people have millions of kids every year and that's not going to stop, so these families that have children deserve to be in the US.

It’s interesting to be thinking about how fear plays a role in immigration because these migrants are terrified for their lives, and I feel like most people in the US who even get an opinion about immigration wouldn’t be affected by it on a personal direct level. Like when Trump was President, I remember feeling so defeated when he won the election but nothing terrible happened to me that put my life in danger. These vulnerable families have to go through a list of problems that I don’t even have to think about. The US Americans feel threatened and scared but so do these immigrants. I know there are significant groups of people of color that support Trump and are against immigration probably because they fear for their lives since they’ve established comfort in the US and don’t want it to be taken away by calling attention that they are the problem. Like if a Chinese person lived in the US, they could reject Chinese immigrants because they might have worked hard to get to the US and don’t want the public to view them personally as a threat to be destroyed. These people are also brainwashed because they see these powerful figures as leaders and role models, people who idealize the American Dream and “MAGA” but don’t even give people the chance. Then there are the people who want to be united by nationalism and one identity, and can’t stand to think that immigrants won’t assimilate. Differences should be celebrated but many people shelter their children to “protect them” from the true narrative about white supremacy and the US history, which creates even more tensions. These feelings are passed down and I don’t know how we can overcome them as a country and start facing the truth. I can understand both sides.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 26


One of the main reasons why some descendants of past and present generations of immigrants express opposition to immigration is because of the likelihood of their family being separated. In the Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border video, one of the immigrants named Armovis said that he never knew that he and his daughter, Meybelin, would be separated. They were separated within a day they arrived. The government has handled rampant families of immigrant horrible. In the same film, it is mentioned how near the end of Obama's’ term, there were family detention centers that were created to deal with the influx of immigrants.. The conditions were very harsh and there was nothing friendly about. Under Trump the idea of separating children was starting to arise again as a necessary idea. The Department Homeland Security were willing to separate children from their parents at the border “in order to deter more movement on this terribly dangerous network”. The Department saw this as a solution. Quietly, under the Trump administration hundreds of little children were being taken from their parents at the southern border. Esmerelda Rodriguez and her daughters were considering entering the country legally, through asylum, but they heard rumors of being separated. This enforcement is more radical and expansive considering that the country used to separate the child from the parent for the welfare of the child. “ The last time children were separated like this was when the government forcibly separated Native American children from their families” is a word for word quote from the Frontline film that shows how this occurrence is something that is not really that new. This 0 tolerance policy was nothing but destructive and heartening. Some time has passed and the country is starting to learn what's happening at the border. Trump eventually reverses this 0 tolerance policy, stopping future separations, but does not address the children already separated. Thankfully, there was a court order that was supposed to reconcile parents and children. Some were able to reconnect but many were not.

The fear and anxiety of being separated is not the only thing that was affecting the immigrants, deportation was another factor. Many immigrants migrate to the U.S to flee violence, and provide a safer environment for their children. “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.”-- Warsan Shire. Sadly, this is not the environment they were welcomed with. In the “5 Things to Know about Obama’s Enforcement of Immigration Laws,” reading by NPR, mentions how deportations increased during the beginning of Obamas’ term. This increase in deportation can send the message to immigrants that “they are not welcome”. This message is no clearer then stated by Trump. Trump wanted to “ Competing for jobs against brande new-arrivals”, inferring that immigrants were a threat.

This fear of the immigrant is a common pattern seen in history. In the “Cheap Slaves” reading, its mentioned that when the Chinese were immigrating and, were being a beneficial to America during the Gold Rush, they were tolerated. As soon as the economy began to struggle and jobs became scarce, animosity against the Asians grew. Also in this reading it is recorded that , President Chester A Arthur says that “the Chinese laborers had made significant contributions to the development of the West,”. Many white Americans now saw the Chinese as a threat. Fast forwarding to the recent years we see how Trump used the idea that essentially said “all immigrants are violent”,”they are stealing our jobs”, “ we(America) needs protection”, echoes this behavior. I found this quote interesting, “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”. Subconsciously our basics for safety and survival affect our views. Because immigrants were seen as something to be feared many people used them as a scapegoat.

I learned many new things about immigration during this assignment that I didn’t know before. Unless one is of Native American descent, everyone else in the U.S can be considered an immigrant. As a country we need to learn how to sympathize with each other and reflect on ways we can make the immigration process more safe, welcoming, and accessible.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

Some descendents of immigrants feel opposition to immigration because they have been taught that immigrants are hurting their livelihood and are of bad character. In Scott Greenberger’s article, “‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act”, it is shared that those opposed to immigration commonly believe that “immigration depresses workers’ wages” and increases competition for jobs. Greenberger explains that this belief led to the first immigration policy, the Chinese Exclusion Act. Furthermore, he shares that another motivation of the Chinese Exclusion Act was the distrust and distaste of Chinese culture.

The large majority of states and cultures throughout history and today practice “othering”. Their “others” are painted as both a threat and inferior. This breeds loyalty to and reliance on the state. It perpetuates the authority of those in control.

Thus, their negative perspectives are largely the result of political tactics. As John Bargh states in a Washington Post article, “The boiling water of our social and political attitudes, it seems, can be turned up or down by changing how physically safe we feel. [...] Politicians on both sides of the aisle know this already and attempt to manipulate our votes and party allegiances by appealing to these potent feelings of fear and of safety”. This lends people who are opposed to immigration to be more fearful, research has actually found that those with more conservative ideals have larger amygdalas. Jason Stanley’s How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them develops this use of fear and othering as a method for control. Stanley shares that Richard Nixon used a “Law and Order” platform whilst running for office in 1968 due to the strength of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. On top of a century and a half of anti-black propaganda, the media represented these acts of resilience as riots. Pitting African Americans as the threat and the criminal, voters fell to Nixon for “relief”.

The national identity of states revolve around a dominant culture of the dominant group. The institutions and systems of power and control functions around this dominant culture. It is the group of the dominant culture that has built, benefits from, and continues the control of the state. If the dominant culture were to no longer hold the most influence and space, the authority of the government and the rich would be jeopardized. And so, those not of the dominant group are prevented from moving social tides by being “othered”: demonized and removed from the dominant culture.

no name
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

No One Leaves Home: Why Have so Many Americans Sought to Close the Door to Immigrants?

Many previous immigrant generations came looking for more opportunities, better life for their families, and sometimes seeking safety from their home country. They feel like they have "assimilated” into their hosting country, that this is their country now. Even though they were in the same situation a generation ago, when they see for example Muslims coming to Europe post 9/11, they freak out, and cunning politicians play off this fear, like in Brexit and have heartless people to execute these ideas like Katie Miller .

Scandinavian nations for example have been historically homogeneous in racial makeup which leads to more subtle racism that is not talked about, but also Eastern Europe as seen in the Pew study are Hungary is staunchly anti-immigration. In another Pew study in 2016, views on Muslims are more negative in Southern and Eastern Europe and tied directly to immigration because they are affected by this “tide of Islam coming to the west”.

There is somewhat of a psychological explanation as Yale study by John Bargh, said that the amygdala is larger in conservatives. Much of the anti immigrant sentiment is because of the white nativist immigration policy adopted by the US seen with restricting to only “white” countries at the time. The sociological theory for us vs them is the group threat theory, which has in group(us) vs outgroup(them), and when the larger the outgroup, the more of the perceived threat. This is worsened by the fear, which overall leads to fear mongering and over estimation of a tiny population. The Chinese Exclusions Act passed when less than 1% of all Americans were Chinese immigrants.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

Fearing and Being Feared

The general consensus we have reached is that fear drives anti-immigration ideology. I think this fear plays out in three main ways.

First, this fear isn’t new and it’s the same in history. The Washington Post article by Scott Greenberger highlights the fear in response to Chinese immigrants in the 19th century. There weren’t many fears when they first arrived because they believed that there was so much gold, and they were able to use these workers to mine for gold and, later, build the railroads. However, after the intercontinental railroad finished construction, the Chinese workers needed other jobs, and were seen as a threat. They made up a very small population, but they were scapegoated for the overall decrease in opportunities because the country had already expanded as far west as it could go.

Second, immigrants are also viewed as undeserving beneficiaries of government resources without contributing to society. The second Washington Post article written by John Gargh seconds this notion, who articulates that “arch-conservative leaders have often referred to scapegoated minority groups as “germs” or “bacteria” that seek to invade and destroy their country from within.” They fear the foreignness and uncertainty around immigrants, add that to politician’s weaponizing their existence, and you end up with the fundamentals of fascism. John Stanley wrote in his book that there have always been the scapegoating of immigrants for political support in numerous countries, especially in rural communities that have less exposure to immigrants as surveys have found significantly higher fear and hatred towards immigrants to the point that it would affect them physically. When researchers removed hypothetical sources of physical threat, the respondees revealed much more liberal perspectives. Thus, there is more so a fear of threat than actual threat to the public. Yet, we do not see the same reaction with domestic terrorism among conservatives, so it really comes down to politicians weaponizing immigrants groups to create fear.

Third, there is a fear of the future. The PBS Documentary of families being separated at the border demonstrated how conflict in numerous other countries forces people to leave their homes and try to find refuge in the US. This has caused a significant increase in those coming to the US, and a 500% increase in unaccompanied minors coming. However, that has caused an equally emergent issue for the US since it is absolutely wrong to separate families and give them no choice but to return to conflict ridden situations, but at the same time, it would be equally irresponsible to not provide resources to help these immigrants and families settle. Thus, our government is struggling, as seen with the NPR article, in which President Obama responded by increasing deportations to a high of 400,000. I think they don’t know what citizenship policies to pass, what infrastructure to create and how the public will respond. Instead of looking into more progressive approaches, they took the easiest route of attempting to throw the problem away through deportations. The policymakers’ refusal to feel empathy and care about this problem is evident in the PBS video which exposed that there were infants (0-2 years old) that were taken from their parents, and the people in charge were unable to locate the unsupervised infants.

Fear towards and from immigrants materializes in multiple forms, and it’s important to recognize that it is not just fear of them taking jobs because it is untrue if you consider the very small percentage of the population that they make up and masks the other issues.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

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

Some descendants of past and present generations of immigrants, express an opposition of immigration most likely because of fear. Fear of change is probably the main factor in this resentment toward immigrants. The false hope of the American Dream, portrays an unreal standard to immigrants hoping to come to the United States and lead a better life than their home land. The amount of people that have actually built a successful life for themselves after becoming a United States immigrant is very limited. From the outside, this country looks like the perfect opportunity to start from scratch and become successful however they dismiss the racism, inflation, insufficient wages, and many many more issues that are a key factor.

“In fact, anti-immigration attitudes are also linked directly to the underlying basic drive for physical safety. 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. “ (Washington Post Article - John Bargh) This gives us direct reasoning as to why people are so resentful towards immigrants, even descendants of past immigrants. In the “5 Things to Know about Obama’s Enforcement of Immigration Laws,” reading by NPR, it brings up the point in how deportation increased during his term. This poses the threat to immigrants in feeling safety in what is supposed to be a welcoming place. Jason Stanley’s How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them develops this use of fear and othering as a method for control. This is such propaganda that people in power use in order to paint immigrants as the threat in order to benefit white Americans. This propaganda against Asians stem from long-rooted hatred and the rise of this really began right after the event of Pearl Harbor.

Anxiety and fear are the center of this “movement” of Asian American hatred in this country. Fear of disease, fear of losing jobs, and fear of people being more successful are all things that drive the hatred going on. This message is sent through media coverage in a poor way. For example the way the media portrayed China during COVIDs beginning stages. They portrayed Wuhan, China as the “other” creating mass fear and hysteria. From this point onward, Asian American hatred skyrocketed at an alarming rate. I have actually heard and become interested in my Uncle’s point of view in this issue. He is an immigrant himself and came to the United States when he was nine years old. He lives in San Diego, California and seems to lean toward anti-immigration policies. My whole family questions his beliefs because it seems odd that he, an immigrant himself, is against immigration. I think he seems to be overwhelmed from living right next to the Mexican border. He says that his fear comes from them making the country worse and taking his benefits. However, how can you fear someone ruining a country that is already broken? These beliefs always stem from fear and anxiety.

Boston, Massachussetts, US
Posts: 27

The US has been notorious for acting irrationally for centuries when it comes to immigration. Racial slurs, passing bills to exclude certain races from becoming citizens, or even forming hate groups that target minorities; the US has clearly shown that they are extremely intolerable of foreigners. Examples of this are The Chinese Exclusion Act and Anti-Asian American groups. The most interesting fact of all is that we are all theoretically descended from immigrants who chose to come here, unless, of course, someone is indigenous or was brought here by force.

The first signs of an increase in deportation rates was when President Obama came into office. Over 400,00 people were deported in 2012. In Scott Harley’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 did not have enough resources in order to deport every single immigrant who only committed the crime of coming to the US in an illegal way. Immigrants would only be caught now if they were found attempting to cross the border or committing a crime. Along with that, according to NPR, ex-President Obama’s immigration laws have changed a little bit over the past eight years. Obama oversaw more deportations than George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. After Trump’s presidency, the rise in deportation proved that his main goal was banning illegal immigrants. The ongoing COVID 19 pandemic has resurfaced Asian hate. Politicians such as Donald Trump have fueled the support for hate groups. Trump has said things such as “Chinese virus” or “Asian flu” which completely diminished any progress this nation has made in eliminating xenophobia. If the president is saying phrases like this, there is a 100% chance that the people of this country will follow what he says.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 26

Opposition to immigration happens for a number of reasons, all of which lead back to fear. Those whose families that have been in the US for even just a few generations feel a sense of superiority, and some need to protect what is “theirs.” They become complacent, and comfortable with the perks of their position in American society. A sense of greed motivates them to want to keep this progress to themselves and their tight-knit communities. When immigrants flee other countries and attempt to cross into the US, a mixture of politics, fear, and greed combine to create the current crises we have along our southern border, and the immigration opposition we have had for much of our history as a nation.

Jorge Ramos gives an inside perspective into not just how difficult it is to live at a border camp, but also how necessary it was to flee here in the first place. The nine-year-old girl has already witnessed gang violence and drug selling, and it was unsafe for her to live back in Honduras. Stories like those prove the necessity for many migrants to leave their places of swelling and search for a better life. It is not easy, they leave all that they know behind, but it is motivated out of pure necessity. In addition, the MSNBC interview of the author who wrote the book about children being separated from their parents at the border gave an insight into just how mistreated migrants are as they attempt to cross into this country. They are met with such resistance because of our irrational fears.

The first fear is an economic one. Americans have an innate fear of losing their wealth and their jobs, and politicians stoke this fear by convincing them that immigrants are out to steal this progress. In the Washington Post “Cheap Slaves” article, it is clear that Americans fear an influx of cheap labor, as they fear it will undermine their established jobs. In class, we saw this portrayed in cartoons with long lines of Chinese immigrants willing to accept very little pay for jobs in gold mining along the west coast. Politicians have convinced their constituents that there is a fixed “economic pie” of sorts. They treat the benefit of some as a guaranteed detriment to others, and this is simply not the case. Immigrant labor has fueled the growth of this country from its very founding, and without immigrants to take up important positions in our economy, our current aging population would be in far worse condition. Immigrants fuel growth, and therefore more jobs for all, so the “fixed pie” narrative that conservatives push is a falsehood.

The second fear is twofold, cultural protection and physical security. The quote from the MSNBC interview from the staff member of the Trump administration was appalling, yet not out of the ordinary. She explained that she was not worried about migrant children being separated from their families, following with saying they needed to fully assimilate and that there was no need for a “little Havana” here in the US. This is an example of the cultural fear that Americans have of the unknown. From the days of eugenics, there has been a false narrative among some that America is only a white and English-speaking country. When the idea of culture slightly different from their own emerges to certain conservative Americans, they immediately become fearful of it. This refusal to accept other cultures, due to only being comfortable with one's own small community, is a central part of conservative politics today. The physical fear side of this is weaponized by politicians as well. They attempt to portray immigrants as violent criminals and make Americans believe that they are unsafe to enter the country. This, of course, is not true in reality, and in fact, immigrants are less likely to commit a crime than average Americans, but politicians do not care. This is backed up by the Yale experiment, where conservatives actually became far more liberal when they believed that they had physical safety. To keep their hold over the Populus, conservatives stoke fear and division, and then rally behind a discriminatory message.

This message is harmful, but it has appeared over and over again throughout our short history as a nation. The use of terms like calling immigrants “Germs” or “Bacteria” from the Yale experiment allows us to see this scapegoating in action. This is ever-present in the modern-day, with our talks about anti-Asian sentiments in this country, and how Asian people, especially immigrants, have been wrongfully named for and associated with Covid. This scapegoating leads to incidents like the violent pushing of a young Asian woman onto the train tracks earlier this week, along with many other racially motivated attacks. This fear of the unknown will only stop if politicians stop playing into the fundamental fears of their voters, and instead give accurate information.

boston , Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

Why have so many Americans sought to close the door to immigrants?

Immigration is very controversial and many people have different opinions, but it is where people form those opinions that is interesting. As we talked about in class and have looked at videos about it, the main push for people not wanting immigration is straight up fear. Whether that be fear of the community, fear for themselves, fear for the economy, it all comes down to the simple fear. Especially when you think about back in the day and it was predominantly white, the white people were scared they were going to lose their power to immigrants. In John Barghs’ Washington post article he states, “laboratory studies have found that when adult liberals experienced physical threat, their political and social attitudes became more conservative (temporarily, of course)”, basically supporting the idea that fear/threat dominates situations like this. If you have personally had a threat, or if you think of someone/something as a threat, you will be more conserative and more right, making you less likely to want to welcome and accept everyone. Another reason people are so against letting immigrants come is just flat out racism, as Scott S. Greenberger said in his Washington post article, “ But the party’s anti-Chinese views were rooted in racism and revulsion at the newcomers’ unfamiliar customs.” Some people just do not like certain/other races and they don’t want them to come to their country, which is obviously not ok, but there are still people to this day that think this way. People tend to refer or relate newcomers as a disease or bacteria, “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.” This has been seen for example when the Japanese came over to America, and like we saw in the videos they would ask you where you came from and an in detail description of the houses and people, as if you might have some type of illness attached to you because you are an immigrant. If you are someone that has descendants or is an immigrant yourself, I couldn't imagine that you would be against it, but if you were then it might be because you know the hardships of being an immigrant and don't want people to go through the same things, like the hate part of it.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

A culture of fear, combined with other factors, such as a weak economy, has contributed to an anti-immigration sentiment in the history of the U.S. Despite the positive contributions made by the Chinese to build the First Transcontinental Railroad in the mid-1800s, racial intolerance of Chinese grew by the late 1870s as the Gold Rush was ending and the economy struggled. In Scott Greenberger’s article, “Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act,” recent Irish immigrants felt their livelihoods threatened by the Chinese who were willing to work for lower wages, and their “negative views were rooted in racism and revulsion at the newcomers’ unfamiliar customs.” Denis Kearny, an Irish immigrant, and founder Workingmen’s Party of California, became a national voice in supporting the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

In John Bargh’s article, he claims that fear is directly linked to one’s political views. Those who feel their safety is at risk tend to lean more on the conservative side. Politicians, and more specifically, President Trump, who is married to an immigrant, have capitalized on this and as a result, his entire administration was characterized by leading and governing with fear. As illustrated in Greenberger’s article, President Trump claimed the looser immigration rules in place for half a century, have “not been fair to our people, our citizens and our workers.” Trump created an “us,” meaning White America, vs “them,” most who are Mexican, Central American and poor. Similar to the formal policies to exclude the Chinese in the 1800s, Trump imposed the “Remain in Mexico Policy,” which mandates that those seeking asylum live in substandard conditions at the border before their asylum case is heard. This has been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic and the downturn of the U.S. economy. According to Jorge Ramos’ Real America video, less than one percent of those seeking asylum actually receive asylum. The fear imposed by Trump, and his racist immigration policies, was also responsible for separating thousands of immigrant children and their parents as illustrated in Jacob Saboroff’s book Separated.

In the words of Warsan Shire, “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.”

Most immigrants choose to leave their homes for fear of their safety, so that they can escape the gangs, the drugs and violence and provide their family with a better future. Ironically, these immigrants then become the people that Americans fear as a result of biases, stereotypes, and racist policies imposed by our government leaders.

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