A very large majority of the people currently living in America are immigrants, or from immigrant families. Despite the large immigrant population in our countries, we still face challenges prompted by our different backgrounds.

     America is a very ethnically and culturally diverse country. Every day, you interact with people whose families come from all over the world. This diversity in America stems from immigration, and the fact that our country is made of immigrants. Immigration and someone’s stance on it, no matter where they’re from, has been an issue that people have been concerned about for a very long time. Someone’s immigration status and their background tends to be one of the most impactful factors relating to someone’s values as a part of the American people. One of the most prevalent examples of this is the fact that despite coming originally from immigrant families, many people oppose immigration and support harmful immigration reforms.

Now, almost daily in America, the differences in views between people with or without direct immigration status is highlighted. Immigration policies are changing, due to concern from the American people. This concern is prompted by the idea that immigrants will take resources away from American citizens, but ultimately goes against the core values America was founded on. Our country as we know it today was essentially built by immigrants, and the culture is a mix of the different cultures brought here by them. However, many people tend to forget that their lineage ultimately traces back to immigrant families. This inability to connect modern immigration to immigration fifty or more years ago has lead to conflicting opinions, and a higher amount of restriction. Through the new restrictions on immigration, people's personal values are not only being challenged, but so are their rights. Immigrants are having more difficulty traveling to the United States, and some are detained for indefinite amounts of time when they arrive. The views against immigration are most accurately described in the article,“A Firsthand Look at the Horrors of Immigration Detention”. As stated in the article, "President Trump contributes to the dehumanization of immigrants through claims that they are criminals who “infest the country.”" These views vary drastically compared to those of the authors of the article, and the people they interviewed through their research. One of the authors recalls meeting a woman who was forced to leave her family at the border, not even allowed to say goodbye. She immigrated to America to start a better life for herself, and to make more money for herself and her daughter, as many people’s ancestors did decades ago. Neither her nor the authors of the article would agree with the claims of people who are anti-immigration, because they have been witness to the negative and demeaning experiences that many immigrants are put through. However, most Americans have a very strong stance on their opinion. Regardless of being an immigrant or having no direct immigrant background, it remains a core value for Americans.

Often, many Americans forget about their past in immigration if they or their parents weren’t directly involved in the immigration process. Aside from Native Americans, who make up roughly 2% of the United States population, everyone currently living in America is originally from an immigrant family. According to Joe Maddon, manager of the Chicago Cubs, in the documentary “American Creed”, he found a great division between immigrants and previous citizens of Hazelton, Pennsylvania among arriving home. The division between people in the town was so serious, that there were anti-immigration parades carried out by the citizens who lived there. Many of the citizens in the town believed essentially that they were better than the immigrant families because they were first. Lots of people with this mentality fail to put themselves in the place of immigrants, or in the place of their family members who were immigrants before them. To help people in the community see eye to eye, Joe Maddon founded Hazleton Little League. Once kids in the league began to interact and their parents got to know each other, tensions began to ease. People had more perspective on the lives of others living in the community, and could interact on a more civil level. Developing an understanding of people and the differences in their lives is one of the most effective ways to overcome the challenges that the diversity of immigration brings to cities all over America.

Many Americans oppose immigration and have negative views on immigrants because they may have forgotten what it actually means to be an immigrant in the United States. Immigrants leave their home countries to chase the same opportunities that citizens of America were searching for when their families immigrated many years ago. Education, work, and a better life for their loved ones are reasons for immigration shared by both immigrants today and people who arrived in the United States decades ago. People opposing immigration tend to maintain beliefs that are not necessarily true, such as the idea that immigrants take jobs, or produce an increase in crime. According to Alex Nowrasteh at the Cato Institute, on the idea of immigrants taking jobs and stunting economic growth, “...the displacement effect is small if it even affects natives at all. Immigrants are typically attracted to growing regions and they increase the supply and demand sides of the economy once they are there, expanding employment opportunities.” The concerns of American citizens are in most cases not practical. The only scenario in which immigrants would create large and significant displacement of people there before them is if over 22.4 million immigrants moved to America in a two week period. The fears and concerns of American people can be overcome with a greater understanding of immigrants, and of each other. Once we realize that we all came from the same beginnings, and all of our families are made up of the same immigrants that many people hold so much fear towards, we will be able to move past our differences towards a more understanding and more accepting idea of what it means to be an American. American culture is becoming unavoidably more linked with immigration as people continue to immigrate. Although views on immigration and the immigration process in our country have both changed, the core values linked to immigration still stand. People come to America for better opportunities for themselves and their families, much like ancestors of many American citizens did decades ago.




Royal Oak High School AP Lang 2019

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