posts 1 - 15 of 23
Boston, US
Posts: 350


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] IF YOU HAVE TROUBLE ACCESSING THIS, try this:


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: 20

Fear of Immigrants

Immigration itself, within the context of the United States, is often used as the term to define the idea that America is a “nation built upon immigrants”, but there is heavy anti-immigrant presence within many states. However, within the article “Around the World, More Say Immigrants Are a Strength Than a Burden”, data suggests that 59% of the population believe that immigrants make our nation stronger, while 34% believe that immigrants are a burden to our nation. However, this doesn’t tell the reader much, as many of these claims can be based on racial prejudice, racial superiority, or even differences in political parties. In fact, more data later on within the same article suggests that immigrants tend to be more on the left, more liberal, most likely because it could benefit themselves with humanitarian assistance / agreeing with left side ideas. This is further supported by a simple statement by former vice president’s advisor Juan Gonzalez, who was interviewed in the documentary “Separated: Children at the Border”, who said “There’s no pleasing any side. I think on the right, your enforcement is never strong enough, and on the left, you’re never being humanitarian enough” (18:51 - 18:57). The anti-immigrant sentiment is not formed because of direct fear of immigrants themselves, but rather the images that political parties have portrayed them to be, to be another “factor” that a party candidate can talk about to obtain more votes and support.

Perspectives about immigrants have been heavily changed, especially due to political and even religious reasons. Politically, this can range from nativist fear of immigrants, which may stem from ethnic superiority (supremacism). One such example can be seen in the early 1900s, during the Progressive Era, where American descendants of Western Europeans, primarily English Protestants, had falsely labeled Southern and Eastern European immigrants as a group of people that were inherently inferior, criminals or terrorists, and that this mass migration of people will take over American jobs and crumble the economy. Even now, this view has been applied to different ethnic groups that have been mass migrating to the United States, due to events from the country they stem from. Furthermore, the United States has upped the perspective of immigrants being potential terrorists or criminals, due to the events of 9/11. Immigrants are dehumanized to a title that they did not want, a title that is based on pure opinion and little fact. Within the article “At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions.” published by the Washington Post in 2017, the article stated that physical safety of a person and their loved ones is the biggest factor that is present within conservatives. The idea of physical safety of themselves and their loved ones was their biggest priority and that conservatives “react more strongly to physical threats than liberals do” (Bargh paragraph 3). This factor is then manipulated in elections and campaigns, playing with the idea of increased foreign terrorism and the threat of immigrants to society, tugging at what conservatives fear the most. This lines up with the data present in “Around the World, More Say Immigrants Are a Strength Than a Burden”, where 63% of right wing people had supported the deportation of illegal immigrants within the nation. As stated previously with my example on nativism in the early 1900s, this fear of dangerous immigrants is nothing new, spanning several generations across.

lil breezy
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

“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?

I think it was clear throughout the documentary that most who opposed immigration were white Americans, often leaning to be more on the conservative side. I think it is important to think about the privilege that comes with this identity and how it can affect people's morals. Being born in America is already somewhat of an advantage, but being a white American sets you up for success. So many of these people opposing immigration have never had to deal with half of the things these immigrants have had to deal with. They are often fleeing violence and even death. I forgot his name, but in the documentary, there was a man who had owned huge laminated photos of immigrants who had died on his land. He had barricaded the land with an electric fence. He even said himself that he didnt care what the immigrants were fleeing, he only cared about the legality of it. But if he were to really be put in the shoes of those immigrants, he wouldn't think twice about migrating. However, because he had lived such a privileged life, he could not even bear to imagine and empathize with the immigrants, and so their issues were not real to him. Even though that man had most likely descended from immigrants, he did not have to migrate himself, so he feels that America is rightfully his land. Because of this lack of empathy, the government has failed to honestly try to help immigrants. America can also be very tone deaf. For example in the interview with Jacob Soboroff, they mention that Katie Miller said that if you come into America, you should assimilate. It is very ignorant to think that someone needs to assimilate in order to just live a successful life.

These views have been ingrained in American society for decades. ¨‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act¨ is about the Chinese Exclusion act. Here we really see the trope of us vs. them. It is clear that legality is not the only basis of anti-immigration, it is the fact that the immigrants are different from the white American, they have different customs, different clothing, different food, they are inherently different. This is a main problem people have, they literally alienate groups of people to the point where they are no longer seen as human beings. The same reading displays a quote made about Chinese people: “These cheap slaves fill every place. Their dress is scant and cheap. Their food is rice from China. They hedge twenty in a room, ten by ten. They are whipped curs, abject in docility, mean, contemptible andobedient in all things.” It is truly astonishing to see how they were being talked about- similar to a dog who had misbehaved.

This can also tie in to the fact that fear and anxiety have almost everything to do with anti immigration. In “At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions,” John Bargh reveals that immigrants are more likely to be fearful than liberals. We see this, not just with immigration either. Many conservatives feared the vaccine and would often conjure up obscure theories. So there is already a predetermined anxiety. This same article mentioned that there is a metaphor comparing immigrants to viruses. Yet again, this dehumanizes immigrants, and it also instills that same fear that immigrants are corrupting America. There is a common stereotype that immigrants take away the jobs of ¨true¨ Americans. This was being constantly spewed on multiple platforms, and so it instilled a great fear among America.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

"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?

People who are anti-immigration are weird, like genuinely. People have been migrating around the globe since the very beginning of early human civilization for a multitude of reasons, whether that be for resources, better opportunities, or whatever. Just like BIgGulpFrom711 said, America was quite literally built on immigration. In “Around the World, More Say Immigrants Are a Strength Than a Burden” they surveyed that “59% say immigrants make the country stronger because of their work and talents”, more than half of the population agrees that immigrants make America better. The US also has the world’s largest number of immigrants, so those who are against immigration, are usually just being selfish because of their fears. Do they not think immigrants are also scared? Scared of the journey AND the destination? They risk everything and go through inhumane situations just to come here. In Real America with Jorge Ramos: Migrant Kids Stuck at the Border, it follows Genesis, a 9-year-old Honduran girl who is at a border camp. These camps resemble the idea of concentration camps. They are held like prisoners and animals. Oftentimes, people come here seeking asylum from dangerous situations (which is perfectly legal). In Central America, more specifically, the cartel and gangs, is not something that is uncommon. Therefore, oftentimes, ordinary citizens, who have no intention too, unfortunately get caught up in that. As a country, “home of the free land of the brave”, we should be welcoming them with open arms, but many people are not.

Many people in the United States don’t realize the privilege they have solely just by being in this country. People and families are risking their lives everyday just for an unpromised opportunity at a second chance. I can’t understand how people who oppose immigration don't reconcile with their situations or show any kind of remorse towards immigrants. Many people come here illegally because the immigration system is corrupt and people won’t be able to become citizens for many years. What they don't realize though, is that they don’t have these years to wait because the situations they are facing put them in immediate danger which requires immediate action. We have seen in the past, our government take inexplainable action driven out of fear to prevent immigrants from coming into the country such as when in 1882 Congress approved the Chinese Exclusion Act which was the first significant restriction on free immigration in U.S. history. Scott S. Greenberger, who wrote “‘Cheap Slaves’: Trump, immigration, and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act” informs us that “the bill barred Chinese laborers from entering the country for 20 years, and denied citizenship to the Chinese already here.”

So, can you really blame immigrants if they decide to come here illegally in an attempt to avoid our government? The same government that continues to increase the amount of deportations per presidency? In “5 Things To Know About Obama's Enforcement Of Immigration Laws” it explains that “Obama oversaw more deportations than George W. Bush did, just as Bush oversaw more than Bill Clinton did. The trend toward increased deportations began with the 1996 passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act and accelerated after the Sept. 11 attacks, with growing budgets for the DHS agencies that enforce immigration law.” Immigration laws are super strict, and it just gets stricter as each precedence begins their presidency. It has gotten especially worse after Trump's 2017 immigration policy. Jacob Soboroff who wrote "Separated: Inside an American Tragedy," says none of these policies were done with the 54,00 separated children's best interest in mind and these politicians aren't even sympathetic towards immigrants. Katie Miller, former press secretary to Mike Pence, even said directly to Soboroff that people who come here should just assimilate .. she didn't feel any empathy towards the children. The government didn't plan to put families back together, but they had every intention possible to separate them. People would only take that risk if they knew they had an opportunity at a safer life in this country.

The people who oppose immigration who are already in the United States, are usually white southern conservatives. These are usually the same people who preach about America’s freedom and equal opportunity to all, yet when it really comes down to it, many of them turn a blind eye or even take direct action to stop it. For example, in the film we saw a man who literally put an electric fence up to literally stop people from getting in through his property. If anything, he could’ve helped them, by giving them food, water, medical supplies, or even directed them towards authorities if he hated them that much. He decided to physically harm them though and put them in an even more harmful way, which is just selfish. It felt like he got joy out of it too, as if he’s doing this for the good of the country .. he even had the blown up laminated pictures to prove it. Granted, people like this usually do it out of fear which completely contradicts “land of the brave''. They’re scared that these people are going to bring crime and dangers to the country. John Bargh, who wrote “At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions” said that “Brain imaging studies have even shown that the fear center of the brain, the amygdala, is actually larger in conservatives than in liberals” which explains why conservatives tend to oppose immigration more than democrats do. I can’t help but think that this is probably because of internal racist and stereotypical thoughts. Fear drives people to say and do unimaginable things, but if we do not even attempt to face our fears, we’re never going to get anywhere, we’ll never be able to make progress.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14
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.

I think that most of those opposing immigration and more humane of helping with it are very uneducated and those that choose to be ignorant so they can live on in their own little world, safe, and with a clear conscience. They like to think they own a place and want to be in control. One of the articles mentioned a study on how conservatives and republicans were very worried about their physical safety and associated immigrants with a disease which first of all if you think that then you are a disease and second off was very ironic when they are pushing for pro-life and controlled of others bodies. The thing with that view is that it has been a part of history forever, with disliking people based on their looks and culture they were viewed as gross and contagious for eating rice or speaking another language.

It takes another level of ignorance and cruelty to not care for people in pain and suffering so bad they walk through the Darien gap, jump on trains and risk everything for a chance at a better life, only to be arrested, imprisoned, isolated, and sent away. In the new video and in documentaries it has been shown how harsh the conditions are in the camps these people are held in. I think people are afraid to accept change but I fully just cannot explain why a MELTING POT of immigrants hates the idea of more immigrants seeking asylum. A lot of fear has been pumped into people through social media about conspiracies and spies and such and forces people to have a hateful view of strangers which causes utter chaos in the government and protests.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 18

Fear of Immigration & It's Roots.

I think what motivates people who are already in the United States to oppose immigration, including other/former immigrants is fear. There’s a reason it’s called fear mongering. Politicians are using people's fear against them. Convincing them that their struggle in the workforce or even as former migrants will go unacknowledged with the arrival of new people. That their American identity will be jeopardized if everyone can be called an American. John Bargh, “At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives and liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions, a very interesting article is definitely one of the reasons I believe I want to study psychology at BLS and also why it may be considered both a science and a social study. I think the idea that conservative values spring from fear is self identifiable on its own just in the sense that conservatives tend to be the most reactionary group of people. They are constantly taking the defense because they are scared and fear makes us gullible and prone to believe that that will calm us.. Even if it isn’t true. “They will steal your job, let’s deport them”... the fear is “loss of one’s job” and the proposed solution is “deport” which sounds like a protection from the feared thing. Jorge Ramos’s, Real America: Out of Sight and Out of Mind, is definitely true. Americans hold a deep felt sentiment of “out of sight, out of mind”. This is also why we say “ignorance is bliss”... people who rather ignore their fears and question their origins and question the world around them rather than accept that everything has a cause. Personally, I believe this ignorance, and the things Americans are refusing to see is the root of our problems is capitalism. You wouldn’t fear losing your job and not being able to financially support yourself, or float about poverty, if capitalism, which feeds off of competition and creating class divisions, didn't exist. You wouldn’t find reasons to blame immigrants for “stealing your job” if you could acknowledge that capitalists love to exploit people for their labor and the cheaper they can do that, the easier it is for them to capitalize. As pointed out by Scott S. Greenberger, “‘Cheap Slaves’: Trump, immigration, and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act”; we see the intersection of race and class when groups created to bring about class solidarity actively work to exclude minorities. For fear and misdirected hatred instead of capitalism and the bourgeois to not exploit them for their labor they blamed Chinese immigrants for “taking their jobs”. I think Capitalism breeds greed and a lack of compassion that’s why I’m not too shocked by the short interview with Jacob Soboroff (NBC reporter) on his book Separated: Inside an American Tragedy, where Kate Miller was quoted saying: “My family and my colleagues told me that when I have kids I'll think about the separations differently. But I don’t think so… DHS sent me out to the border to see the separations for myself — to try to make me more compassionate — but it didn’t work.” Again, capitalism creates violence, fear and insecurity and lack of compassion. It isn’t nature it’s nurture and capitalism continues to nurture a toxic environment once filled with bigotry and misinformation. I honestly believe that the way in which the US has intentionally exploited foreign nations, undermined their sovereignty and intervened in civil affairs knowing they could capitalize... especially in South America where they've created "unstable" "third worlds" should be given reparations . And if that means allowing immigrants from South America to come into this country that has benefited and continues to benefit from their exploitation --- then it should be so.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.

Key word is “entitlement.” Many descendents opposing immigrants believe that America is their land and that it is their right to live and thrive in America — and no one else’s. They believe that their family has worked hard to form the community and life they have created. They view immigrants as party crashers, who would ruin the reputation of America as the finest country with their stealing of jobs and welfare. Reaching and thriving in America is an achievement for many, but not one they want to share with others in fear that it might just be taken from them. Just as it is difficult for some to allow new members in a friend group, it is similarly difficult for some to accept change within their communities.

We all saw that veterinarian in the PBS documentary who placed electric fences up and laminated photos of dead immigrants. He viewed America as his land and that no matter their circumstances, they didn’t deserve to be here like he did.

Fear is a common pattern throughout conservative communities. After all, conservatism is, at its most basic form, “opposition to change or innovation.” Thus, it is expected that conservatives may fear new people who want to be a part of their communities. New means unknown, dangerous. New means a threat to the way of life that “works for everyone.” We see it in the Pew Research article “Immigrants viewed more favorably among those on the ideological left” that the US is heavily divided on whether immigrants are beneficial to America — where the difference between the left and right is 46%, the greatest out of all the countries analyzed.

It is not just as simple as a statistic though. The analysis by John Bargh in his Washington Post article notes an important language pattern of how powerful people have heightened xenophobia. All people want to be clean and healthy, so using language with connotations of disgust and dirtiness flame the fire that exclusivity and conservatism has already created. This didn’t start with Donald Trump, but certainly he is a proponent of it.

My parents both came here as undocumented immigrants. Shortly after I was just born, my dad received a speeding ticket and did not have a valid license. He was taken by the immigration police to jail and almost deported. My mother told me the fear she felt of having to take care of my brother and I without my father there, especially as she did not know how to speak English and had no other relation in the rural, majority-white town I grew up in except for my father. Without the advocacy of good people, he would not be a citizen today. All throughout the documentary, all I could think about was how close I came to losing my dad to the immigration system in America.

So for a long time, I could not fathom why some Americans wouldn’t just let immigrants come in and go about their days.

Entitlement and fear make for a dangerous blend. I understand the situation with many xenophobic Americans. They believe that they are doing a duty to — protecting — their country by keeping out foreigners and who they believe are dirty criminals. Many don’t think that they are doing something evil and rather are doing a good for their country and for their children. Common misconceptions and stereotypes, as we’ve learned from so many historical instances, make a large impact.

I asked my mother about why America did not open their doors to all immigrants. She said that the government had to put limits, or else everyone could come to America. But why can’t they? The question I am still wondering is, why can’t we just let everyone in? Why can’t we let everyone receive the opportunity they deserve? America made itself an appealing country out of what immigrants have done for it. The innovation, a comparitively better job market, and the overall better lifestyle that makes up American culture came out of the work of immigrants of color, who came here both forcibly and out of choice — not just our Founding Fathers and people like them.

A lot of us Gen Zers say we hate America, and that we live in a horrible country. That the American Dream isn’t real. I agree, there are countless horrible things about this country and how its society works. I agree, the barriers to whatever the American Dream is are unjustly difficult to overcome. I agree that there is so much change to be made in America.

Too often we question why immigrants would come to America, and I think that it is important to acknowledge the privilege we have in living in America. That privilege is the side that many immigrants (at times, force themselves to) see. To many immigrants, coming to America is an honor, no matter how difficult it is to get there — just ask my father, who lived in a Cambodian prison cell, who walked through dense forests in South America, who sailed on a tiny boat with too many people, just to reach this country.

boston, Massachusetts, 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?

I think a lot of the anti-immigration sentiment comes from ignorance. People hear “illegal” and can only think negatively. Statements like “they’re stealing our jobs”, and “they’re criminals” just play off of people’s fears (despite not being backed statements), and they do so effectively. A lot of Americans really only care about their own worries, and refuse to deeply consider the horrors a lot of refugees face. The struggles of immigrants aren’t highlighted enough. The word “refugee” isn’t used enough. The word “illegal” is used too much.

It’s also interesting how calloused people are to the deaths of immigrants, or the separation of families. The obvious example being Mike Vickers who was interviewed in “Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border”. He had an electric fence put up to hinder immigrants. He was so proud to admit that he was “black and white”. He said that it was only right for people who crossed the border illegally to face consequences. What he didn’t explain was why he felt the need to be an additional hindrance. He makes it clear that he fears crime and anything illegal. He showed those laminated pictures of dead bodies he’d found, without any sort of comment. He held them up like a sort of trophy. Are these corpses not a clear sign that the fears of immigrants far outweigh his own fears? The word “illegal” is just something people can double down on. Another example is Thomas Homan’s reaction, or lack thereof, to the ProPublica tape of a girl crying to see her aunt, which is also in the Frontline video. First, Thomas Homan said he never heard the tape before. This further demonstrates the ignorance of those against immigration. He said “I’ve heard many children cry in my 34 years. I don’t need to hear children cry.” And when he does first hear the tape, he makes it clear that he cares more about “addressing the border” and “prosecuting people who break the law” than the well-beings and happiness of literal children. I think the two examples reveal that people against immigration aren’t afraid to embrace their ignorance and their callousness.

In John Barge’s On Fear and its effect on political views, it’s mentioned that “ 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. President Trump is an acknowledged germaphobe, and he has a penchant for describing people — not only immigrants but political opponents and former Miss Universe contestants — as ‘disgusting.’” There are many examples of conservatives being more prone to fear for their safety. But what this quote highlights is that “their” part. They fear for their own safety, their people’s safety, and their country’s safety. A classic case of “Us vs Them”. This can explain the callousness of the interviewees i cited from the frontline video. They choose to undermine the overwhelmingly heavy threats these refugees face (heavier than their own), because they see “illegal-immigrants” as germs. To many, whether they’d like to directly admit it or not, the lives of aliens matter so much less than the lives of Americans. It’s so much easier to see immigrants as a threat than as a human being to many. It’s easier to see in black and white, when you add gray it’s too complicated.

It’s so important to understand the struggles of refugees. Both the struggles that people faced in their own countries and the struggles they face attempting to get to america. The video “Real America with Jorge Ramos: Migrant Kids Stuck at the Border” looks at life at border camp for a young girl. A big takeaway here is the optimism and cluelessness of the child compared to the desperation of the parent. We’ve seen George Takei mention this in his ted talk. He mentioned finding it nice having his walk to the bathroom lit. Children feel safe and at home as long as they’re with their parents. That’s why the separation of families is so disgusting. We’ve heard the ProPublica tape. We’ve seen countless examples of children who’ve been separated from their families become angrier and more resentful. Another big takeaway is obviously that these immigrants are running from something. Running from danger. Running from gangs threatening their families. Their home is the mouth of a shark.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

"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?

Why do some descendants of past or present generations of immigrants seem to express opposition to immigration?

What do fear and anxiety have to do with it?

It is very ignorant to live in America and be opposed to immigration. The concepts of immigration & migration are not new, by any stretch of the imagination anywhere in the world. Today, a great many people who are opposing immigration are conservatives. The phrase that comes to my mind whenever I begin to think about these concepts in America is, "The nation of immigrants." As Ms. Freeman stated in the direction post, unless you are indigenous or you were forced to come here, your ancestors at one point or another chose to immigrate here.

In the article, “At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions. ," John Bargh reports on a study at Yale that links fear to conservatism. John states that, "Brain imaging studies have even shown that the fear center of the brain, the amygdala, is actually larger in conservatives than in liberals." Since larger amounts of fear will cause people to adopt a more conservative stance and viewpoint, many right wing politicians such as former President Trump, as well as large, red-state governors such as Greg Abbott, and Rob DeSantis, will use the argument that these immigrants are bad people to make people afraid of them, thus becoming more conservative and supporting these types of politicians, and anti-immigration policy. President Trump said the following in his campaign announcement speech, which was shown in the documentary we watched in class, using this very argument: "They're bring drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists..." (28:18 - 28:26). This is clear and blatant fear-mongering.

In the Washington Post Article, " ‘Cheap slaves’: Trump, immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Exclusion Act," journalist Scott Greenberger talks about the Irish immigrant to San Francisco, the businessman Denis Kearney, and the founder of the anti-Chinese 'Workingmen’s Party of California'. Considering that he was an immigrant, one would probably think that he would be more empathetic/understanding to the immigration cause - but this was not the case. Greenberger states that, "...the party’s anti-Chinese views were rooted in racism and revulsion at the newcomers’ unfamiliar customs." Denis Kearney's case of racism, xenophobia, and anti-immigrant sentiment is very important to note because it exemplifies that when this fear is weaponized, it is extremely powerful and applicable to those who remain ignorant and closed minded.

Juicy Burger
West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 22

I think past and present generations grow less close to the history and culture that defined their story of assimilation and immigration. Instead, the identity of one’s culture and self becomes replaced by the more prominent identity of the state. National protection and identity are often the forces that push us to actions we might have otherwise disagreed with. Without our connection to our past, the empathic connection we feel to other immigrants and their stories are nullified. In Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border, we witnessed how the desire to protect the law and economy outweighed the dire consequences at the border. Separation of family did not matter in the face for the protection of one’s self. Yet, as much as we can consider the economic, security, and “equitable” factors that justify closed borders, they are also unfounded. Trump’s rhetoric vilified and demonized the people fleeing at the border, opening up waves of nationalistic and white superiority sentiments. This created conditions in which the American did not view immigration in light of helping others, but protecting themselves. A stronger tethering to the communities around us or the stories that people have hid away could spark this discussion around kindness and empathy rather than law or security. After all, if we all view each other as different humans under the same story of survival and community, I think a lot of people would change their minds.

This is exemplified in Jorge Ramos’ short documentary on the journey of Genesis, a young girl fleeing from Honduras and internal armed violence. We learn about the camps at the border and how large swathes of refugees are crowded in one place. We also learn that in the harsh conditions, some may come out of the darkness to help others. Some Americans handed them goodies and other items to help them. I always am touched by the instances where people show humanity in dire circumstances. Yet, this will be nothing compared to the help they can get if they are let into the US as legal citizens. Genesis calls out to Trump, hoping that he will help them. But she quickly learns that fear will stop her hope.

Indeed, this fear has been shown to explain widespread political beliefs. Bargh of the Washington Post elucidates a simple, yet persuasive relationship between democrats and republicans: beliefs are driven by fear. One quote explains “ 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.” That is wild. It’s shocking that we can analyze a feeling as universal as fear and connect it back into political parties and beliefs. However, two things jumped out to me. 1) The relationship between not getting a flu shot and anti-immigration seemed shoddy, because people who had not gotten a flu shot were likely already conservative in the first place. It seems much more likely that being conservative is why people don’t get flu shots versus the counterfactual that insecurity explains why people are conservative. After all, people who don’t get flu shots in the first place believe the risks of getting vaccinated is larger. Nevertheless, there still is a pretty powerful relationship that is shown when they put a squirt of Purell in their hands and they change their minds.

The story for millions of people across different centuries has been one of oppression, fear, and survival. Ramos depicts a unipolar United States causing many of the immigration and violent issues that are now bothering us. For decades, people have fled from violence hoping for the promise of the American Dream. Trump’s ban on of immigration because of job security is not the exception in history as Greenberger from the Washington Post explains the Chinese Exclusion Act barred Chinese immigrants in a similar way for decades, all the way until 1943. This fear has remained entrenched in American society for too long. But despite all that, I think there is so much resilience and strength in the stories of people like Genesis, who continue to fight onward. I’m impressed by the Chinese’s ability to remain hopeful and keep on going in tough times. But instead of them fighting on the other side of the border, let’s also step up as Americans, not united by the premise of our state but by our care for humanity.

ok i pull up
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 13

My primary thinking for this discrimination against immigration is that people are scared for what they don't know. Arrogance also has a part to play in this, especially shown by the man in the video with the electric wire around his property. He said himself that he doesn't care for the situation that they are in, even though most of these people are seeking sanctuary from the danger that can very well harm them. It depends on the person in power too, because with Trump in office and his slogan "Build that wall" to keep the immigrants out, it gives a hollow perspective for people and so they follow what their president wants. This quote from John Bargh I believe explains it well: "But we also need to recognize how much they can be influenced subconsciously by our most basic, powerful motivations for safety and survival. 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." He describes before in the article that comparing immigrants to germs, makes a powerful and lasting impression on people, that we should avoid immigrants, just like how we would avoid contamination from germs and bacteria. Another thing I would like to point out is that from Migrant kids stuck at the Border, the people there are not even being held on US soil, and something that the man said at the end was "out of sight, out of mind", which I feel is something that they are doing, is undermining the severity and urgency through pushing it to the side. I believe that this should be addressed more because people's lives and well-being are at stake, and the more we wait, the worse it'll get. To tend this off, I would like to acknowledge this quote from Ronald Reagan really speaks to me: “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.”

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Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

Fear of Immigration

When it comes to citizens of America, there’s a large sense of nativism among the population. Not in the sense that we respect our native populations, but in pride for having our family live in America longer. After long periods of time, people forget that they descended from immigrants, and end up believing that being American is their God given right. They look down upon others who came after them, because they’ve deluded themselves into thinking that they’re native to America, when they’re really not. It’s like the guy from the Frontline documentary who protected “his'' nation and “his” land with the electric fence, as if the land he owned wasn’t stolen from the actual indigenous populations. They disregard everything that those immigrants have gone through in order to even try to cross over into America, from suffering whatever push factors existed in their home country, to crossing treacherous areas like the Darrien Gap. People don’t realize that illegal immigration is usually an act of desperation, not something that people do for the fun of it. There’s also been a historic past that separated new immigrants from others. For example, Chinese immigrants were historically used as sources of labor when the white workers went on strike, since they either didn’t know about the strike or were simply that desperate for work. This happened with Denis Kearney, and he framed the situation in such a way that the entire Irish working population developed a large sense of resentment towards the Chinese. It led to the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first act in American history to specifically target the immigration of a certain ethnic group. This kind of fear and anxiety continues today, as politicians constantly bring up the drugs, crime, and germs that illegal immigrants supposedly bring with them. As racial prejudice and the fear that comes with it prevails in American society, it’s easier to separate new immigrants and other ethnic groups as different from ourselves, and the more distance that we perceive from them, the easier it is to turn them away.

Another large problem at play is the fact that we, as a nation, don’t really have a great immigration policy to begin with, and that there’s no perfect solution. Something that was repeated throughout the Frontline documentary was that for Democrats you’ll never be humanitarian enough, and for Republicans you’ll never be authoritarian enough. There is no policy that can satisfy both groups, and it ends up causing only more harm. It’s like when far left human rights activists sued Obama for his child detention centers, only for that same lawsuit to be used by the Trump administration to further their far-right immigration beliefs. There’s so many differing opinions that come into play that it’s hard to tell who opposes immigration, and who simply opposes how immigration is currently handled. There’s so much fear associated with this topic, and the political divisions in this country have run so deep that the lack of a perfect solution will always be a point of contention in American politics, and immigration policies will always end up being contested, for better or for worse. Our fear of immigrants has gone so far to the point where conservatives are being noted for having a larger amygdala, which is absolutely insane to think about. Fear-mongering is so deeply rooted in American politics and society that it’s likely that the two parties will never come together for a permanent solution for immigration, and that more violations and controversies are bound to occur in this country. Our fear of immigration isn’t something that’s new, but something that will continue to permeate and plague this country, as it has done for the past hundreds of years.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

No One Leaves Home Unless Home is the Mouth of a Shark

In my opinion, the main reason that many descendants of past/present generations of immigrants oppose immigration so much is because of the rampant nationalist, patriotic “America is superior” idea that is spread about citizens of this country. Even though they themselves may be descendants of immigrants, the anti-immigration ideas that are so prevalent in our society works to condition many to fear the arrival of new immigrants despite them being descended from immigrants themselves. It’s like a weird membership thing in which when you become a citizen, you qualify as an American and are force-fed ideas that promote the idea of American exceptionalism (not to say that immigrants aren’t also fed with this idea, but when you’re a citizen you become apart of the “superior” group that society favors and speaks fondly of).

In the documentary that we watched in class about immigration, Juana speaks about how she is grateful for the opportunity to be in America despite the hardships she had to face. And yes, while I do agree that living in America provides a lot of opportunities for people to build their way up, I also want to point out how easy it can be to later on get wrapped up in the idea of American-superiority. In the ‘Cheap Slaves’ article, Trump speaks about how loose immigration laws have “not been fair to our people, our citizens and our workers.” When you become an actual citizen of the US (or are born a citizen), you now fit into the list of people supposedly being “endangered” by the arrival of immigrants. Getting into that “us against them” mindset of citizen versus immigrant is easier when you begin to actually benefit from living in the US. I actually know someone who immigrated to the U.S. and became a citizen, but supported Trump during the 2016 and 2020 elections. It was very disappointing to see considering his treatment of immigrants (to forget your roots and where you came from is always a sad sight).

When these pro-American citizen beliefs combined with the usage of harmful words such as “germs” or “bacteria” to describe immigrants (article about Yale and conservatives versus liberals), political leaders have the ability to make people literally associate anti-immigration laws as real safety laws, as if letting in immigrants would destroy society and harm their families. There’s also the idea of immigrants destroying the economy, which historically is not the case. In the article about ‘Obama’s Enforcement of Immigration Laws,’ the article mentions how the Pew Research Center connected the decrease in Mexican immigrants to tougher border control and a “slow-growing U.S. economy,” as if a better economy equals less immigrants. It’s silly how in history, when labor demands were needed and the conditions were terrible, it was mainly immigrants who took up the job (for example, Chinese workers building the railroad were fairly welcomed because their labor was needed). However, as soon as the labor demand ceased, immigrants were all of a sudden a danger to American society because they were supposedly stealing jobs (since they took up jobs with low pay). Whenever any economic crisis happened, they were blamed for it. Immigrant workers became the scapegoats for economic problems in the United States as the government continued to promote the fear that immigrants would come and take the jobs of citizens, or would be criminals that threatened the safety of American families.

It is important to remember the fact that every single one of us (besides Indigenous people and those who descended from people who were forced to come here) are technically descendants of immigrants. Immigration created this country, and being a safe haven for those in need of sanctuary is a part of our core ideals, and watching our treatment of those who simply ask for a safe place to live with their families is absolutely heartbreaking. It is important to remember Roosevelt’s quote during a time in which we are surrounded by anti-immigrant media: “Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” Also, take into consideration the title of this assignment before acting in an unsympathetic way towards immigrants: “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.”

Pinyon Jay
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 18

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

The main factor that leads some people to oppose immigration is fear and its use in medi, and this is amplified by the dehumanization and degradation of immigrants. The people most easily affected by anti-immigration rhetoric are highly motivated by fear of physical safety, and ignorant of the situations of immigrants.

When looking at historical examples, immigrants have consistently been used as a scapegoat in times of crisis. Scott S. Greenberger gives one example in “Cheap Slaves” of Chinese immigrants being tolerated during an economic boom but being quickly resented and targeted in a time of economic recession. Another example, mentioned in “5 Things to Know about Obama’s Enforcement of Immigration Laws” is the rejection of and discrimination against Middle Eastern immigrants after 9/11. A cause of this opposition to immigration is that some people feel a great need to make sense of a scary situation, and need someone to blame for inadequacies in the U.S. or tragic events, regardless of whether it is true or not. Immigrants are a very easy target, because their methods of fighting back are very limited by the risk of deportation. Conservatives are more affected by anti-immigrant ideas, because as John Barge describes in his Yale study about fear in conservatives vs liberals, conservatives tend to be more acutely fearful for their own physical safety, and the rhetoric of immigrants as germs takes advantage of that fear. Far-right news media always seems to cover stories about immigrants committing crimes of the highest degree, and tends to leave out everything they have contributed.

Opposers to immigration become solidified in their position when they completely dehumanize immigrants and disregard the desperate situations they are in. The complete lack of sympathy these people have for immigrants’ situations is exemplified in Separated at the Border with the veterinarian living right on the U.S. border. The fact that this man keeps pictures of dead immigrants like trophies shows his inability to connect with them at all, and his treatment of them like animals. Once one stops viewing immigrants as human, their individual experiences and situations become irrelevant in the name of “the peoples’ safety”. The comparisons of immigrants to invasive organisms not only increases mistrust of them, but it reduces them to subhuman beings of no value.

I believe that by confronting ignorance to the complex and dangerous situations immigrants, opposers to immigration could open their minds. Immigrants must be humanized again in their minds, and they must realize that their own actions go against the core ideas that the U.S. represents. Of course, we cannot take in every immigrant in the entire world. But we do not need to villainize them in order to feel “patriotic”. A true act of patriotism would be to uphold the values of the U.S. and provide a safe haven for immigrants fleeing the most inhospitable of circumstances.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

Immigration and Fear

“These immigrants are coming in and stealing our jobs,”. This sentiment is repeated by many anti-immigration politicians and civilians, lobbying against more open and free borders. There are a lot of reasons why people in first world nations would not want to allow immigrants to seek asylum. However, I think that most of it comes down to fear. Throughout American history, many of our own citizens have feared, and thus hated, immigrants coming to our country because of the perceived notion they are going to take jobs and good old fashioned racism and xenophobia.

One of the main things that make Americans afraid of immigration is the loss of job security for non-educated, lower class people. Something that is not commented on though, is the fact that the working conditions of undocumented workers are terrible. They are constantly the victims of wage theft and poor working conditions which produce extremely cheap products for massive corporations to purchase. This allows grocery stores and supermarkets to have extremely cheap food. Despite the fact that most Americans would not take these hard and unfair jobs, and they benefit from the effects of cheap labor, they for the most part still fear immigration. Realistically what they should fear is immigrants getting rights, and demanding better jobs. However, that doesn’t seem to be happening for the majority of them, which should also be fixed. In conclusion, immigrants are generally taking low quality and hard jobs, which would not be taken by lower-class white Americans who benefit from their low wages. Additionally, Americans hate incoming immigrants because of racism and xenophobia. Since many Americans do not grow up around any minorities, they often do not view other races as human. This leads to an extreme lack of empathy and understanding, which leads to general sentiment against immigrants.

Immigrants have many, many reasons to leave their countries behind. Oftentimes they are refugees fleeing war started by their government. Other times their country is in a much worse economic position compared to the United States. Some immigrants are targeted by gangs, and forced to leave. Whatever the reason may be, the result is the same. Immigrants come to this country because they are no longer able to stay in their original one. They fear their lives, and the lives of their families, and it can sometimes be the best option for them to leave and come to America. It is obvious that if it wasn’t absolutely essential to come here, than they definitely wouldn’t, and it is extremely difficult to convince many Americans of this fact.

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