Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Immigration Post

I've enjoyed this immigration unit thus far, primarily because it is a topic of which I know very little, aside from what I've learned from my own experience. Unlike abortion or income tax rates, immigration is not an issue which divides political parties. Rather, politicians of all sorts are striving to strike a balance between welcoming immigrants and controlling the frequency with which they come.


So far, the materials we've studied - the immigration film, the Unsettled Journeys series, the “Truth about Mexican-Americans” article - are all sources that inspire sympathy in the viewer/reader. As many others surely did, I felt an impulse to invite immigrants and refugees openly into our country. I know many immigrants well - legal and illegal, family friends and contractors, schoolmates and adults -, and these personal connections only strengthen this impulse I felt. It seems odd to me that descendants of immigrants who came to America in search of monetary gain and religious freedom would deny that same opportunity to those who seek it some hundreds of years later.


Since I've been very little, my own personal connection with immigrants has been an important part of my life. My parents hired a couple undocumented Guatemalan immigrants, Juan and Silvia, to clean our house and do yard work. They became family friends, and we went to the funeral when the husband died of liver cancer. I remain friends with Valentin, a French student who went to Friends for 4 years and visits every year. My parents are the godparents of Juliana, the daughter of a Venezuelan man named Wilmer who works as a contractor, and with whom we've had many “Venezuelan cookouts.” My mom is best friends with a Pakistani immigrant, who belongs to a royal family in Pakistan, yet abandoned her home country to allow her daughter more opportunity in the US. My life would change for the worse if any or all of these people were deported.


But that is only one side of the argument. I know nothing of the correlation between extensive immigration and unemployment, cultural change, and crime rates. If any of this holds true, it is hard to blame reactionary voters who feel their country is being overrun by immigrants, and therefore elected Trump. My own experience does little to resolve the balance that must be strike between welcoming and exclusion, besides from the fact that it seems callous and cruel to separate and deport families. That said, where do you draw the line between inclusion and exclusion?