Immigration needs to be reformed in our minds first

Maggie McNish

Chances are, if an American looks at the person standing beside them, he or she is here because of immigration.  Whether this means that an ancestor sailed across the Atlantic on the Mayflower, or a grandfather decided to leave Italy in search for a new life, the fact still remains.  So, what has happened throughout United States history that has made a multitude of citizens put a stigma on the mere thought of immigration?

Even throughout the hallways of JCHS, it’s hard to avoid hearing a comment about undocumented immigrants from time to time.  It’s claimed that these people come here without having any regard for our laws and think that they can just steal our jobs.  Though it would be difficult to say that these views represent a large population, they do indeed span across the country.  They also illustrate the definition of one-sidedness.  When making comments about undocumented immigrants, people often avoid thinking about why these parents, children and workers decided to leave everything they know and enter into a new and frightening world.  Furthermore, they usually do not identify the reasons within the U.S. government which turned immigration into such a complex dispute.

In 1965, an attempt at immigration reform altered the way green cards are issued.  It was decided that there would be a limit of 25,620 cards distributed per country.  So, this means that the US holds the same cap for a country like Switzerland, with a population of 8 million, and Mexico which has a population of 115 million.  Point being, it is much simpler to be granted a green card if you are from Switzerland than if you are from Mexico, because the competition is reduced by 107 million people.

It’s  undoubtedly difficult for most of us to imagine living under such impoverished and suppressive conditions that we actually feel like we need to flee our country in order to protect our well being.  It is even harder to think about being placed on a waiting list  which amounts to years upon years.  Nonetheless, it should be easy to at least grasp the reasoning behind wanting   to try to leave despite an inability to be granted a visa.

Regardless of the sympathy that should be felt for the people in these situations, border security has exploded.  Many accuse the Obama administration of being too soft on illegal immigration.  In reality, though, he has continued the pattern of watching billions of dollars going towards harsher border control and enhanced fencing.  So, the question in Washington has begun to revolve around what to do with the immigrants who are already here.

An unfortunate step was taken in 2010 when Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070.  The legislation allowed for racial profiling to be used in an attempt to find undocumented immigrants.  Basically, if a police officer has any reason to think that a person is not a citizen (i.e. they are not white), they may stop that person and ask to see documentation.  If they fail to do so, they can be arrested and ultimately deported.

Thankfully, the President has been fighting for more humane reforms.  With the collaboration of certain Republicans including Marco Rubio, a plan is being devised to help grant citizenship to a number of people in America while continuing to strengthen the border.  Of course, continuing border modifications will only increase the deficit, but concessions obviously have to be made in order for any legislation to pass through the House right now.

No matter what political reforms are put into place, though, the issue can only be rectified if the American mindset changes.  Immigrants should be seen as beneficial to a society and an economy.  Not only can they allow for diversity and hopefully toleration, but they can pay taxes and bring in new  talents which could help reduce government debt.  What could be great about immigration is that a person’s life could be transformed for the better and the country’s life could as well.

Instead of making jokes or automatically judging a person  who may or may not be here illegally, people need to try to offer some compassion.  We need to stop habitually acting like citizens of America, and America only, and begin realizing we are citizens of the world.  A person could be from Finland or Nicaragua, but what should matter beyond all else is that they are a fellow human being with a story and a life that we cannot make assumptions about.