Opinion: Immigration can make America great again

The United States needs to return to its days of being a sanctuary for those in need.


Illustration by Dan Bartholomew

Sophie Siegel , Staff Writer

This story is one of two opposing pieces on immigration. You can read the other one here

During the Holocaust, my family escaped to the United States for a better life.


They saw America as a refuge. And back then, it was. It represented hope and offered a second chance to those looking to escape persecution.


Today, I hate to think there are families escaping to America only to be separated from their loved ones and left alone with no recourse.


The United States needs to stop treating those coming to us for aid as immediate threats and improve its treatment of immigrants trying to make a better life for themselves.

A dangerous stereotype

The biggest conversation I heard growing up in conservative Vero Beach, Florida revolved around the dangerous idea that immigrants are more likely to commit crimes. However, according to current FBI crime statistics, white men commit about 69.6 percent of the violent crime in the United States.  


The concept that most refugees coming into this country are terrorists is false when the real threat is already living in America.


And most “radical Islamic terrorists” are usually natural-born American citizens, not immigrants or refugees, according to Vox.


Who could forget when Donald Trump Jr. compared immigrants to skittles?


“If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem,” he said.


This is yet another example of the racism the presidential family represents. Many people were outraged, myself included, by the comparison of candy to human beings escaping Syria during a time of civil war.

Abolish ICE

In the debate surrounding immigration, “abolish ICE” is one of the most important causes to support.


The Immigration and Customs Enforcement federal agency was created in 2003 following 9/11, and since then it’s served as a way to racially profile and separate families, especially under the current administration.


Essentially, Trump’s immigration policies have expanded who is considered a priority to arrest.


Under Obama, ICE would remove undocumented people who had committed “serious crimes,” while under Trump, the agency looks to remove all illegal immigrants, ignoring the fact that they’re separating families, according to the New York Times.


Immigration should be spending its time arresting those with violent, criminal backgrounds, not wasting its manpower on immigrants who are just trying to provide for their families.


In August earlier this year, a man was detained by ICE while taking his pregnant wife to the hospital. They arrested him because he did not have a driver’s license. The agency’s members also claimed he had a warrant for homicide charges, which later turned out to be non-existent.


Many Democrats, including myself, believe ICE is immoral, especially in the current state of politics as many undocumented families who come to the United States for opportunity are met with immoral standards instead of real democracy.

Immigrants aren’t ‘taking our jobs’

For many of us, it’s difficult to feel pride in our country when America has become a hotbed for racism and white nationalism. At this point, they’re about as American as apple pie.


The common dialogue I hear surrounding why we shouldn’t let immigrants into this country perpetuates the idea that they’re “stealing” jobs from American workers. Unfortunately, that idea is perpetuated by the man leading our country.


In reality, they help create new jobs for Americans.


For every new immigrant, 1.2 new jobs for local workers are created, according to the Washington Post.


There is little correlation between those who come to our country and American unemployment rates.

‘We weren’t here first’

America was founded on stolen land, and it’s hypocritical to ignore that. We act as if our history is noble and one that we should be proud of, but it’s really built on suffering and the exploitation of millions.


Today, we still have a national holiday celebrating a tyrant whose legacy was paved with blood. Christopher Columbus, who is cited with discovering America, was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Native Americans in the pursuit of gold and natural resources.


As the Guardian said, “If the United States policy is now, instead, to protect a ‘homeland,’ that would mean restoring the rights of Native Americans to the entirety of the United States.”


For hundreds of years, Native Americans in this country have been tear gassed, murdered, raped, and tortured when defending their right to ancestral land. And that’s all too reminiscent of how we treat those who aren’t white in this country.


And those who argue that Americans have more of a right to live here than immigrants should really pick up a history book. We weren’t here first.


In the end, anyone who isn’t Native American is here thanks to immigration.


Yet we choose to ignore this and instead support white nationalistic tendencies that push the viewpoint that all immigrants are dangerous.

Immigrants are human too

America should be land of the free, not the land of separation anxiety and hate.


Instead of keeping migrant children safe, we put them in cages and ripped them away from their families, who hadn’t committed any real crimes.


We think we’re protecting citizens, but at what cost?


A good friend of mine who serves as the president of the Florida College Democrats, Toni Rodriguez, is a constant fighter for expanding immigration in the United States.


The other day, he said something that really stuck with me: “We need a complete shift in how we view immigrants, both documented and undocumented, in order for us to revert back to the country we once were. A country that sees immigrants as people, not criminals.”  


Immigration policies need to be centered around the ethical treatment of human beings.


This shouldn’t be a political debate. Human rights are common sense.

Sophie Siegel is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].