This semester I also had the opportunity to attend a segment of the Forum on Democracy called Identities Under Surveillance. The speaker, Dr. Mirelsie Vasquez, spoke about the impacts of stricter immigration laws and deportation on immigrants and their families. Dr. Vasquez’s main point was that despite the new laws and racial stereotypes, immigrants should still be considered people. The United States is slowly being consumed by xenophobic tendencies as people are becoming more discriminatory towards immigrants. As a result, immigrants are often viewed as lazy undesirables or criminals. In some cases, immigrants are accused of taking jobs from blue collared workers. However, the United States and the American Dream is essentially built upon immigrants finding success and freedom in America. Immigrants contribute to the workforce, not take from it. Throughout her lecture Dr. Vasquez mentioned that deportation affects not only the lives of the immigrants who are being deported but the lives of their friends and loved ones as well. Although the men and women who deport often miss out on the chance of having a freer and safer life, their families and friends become subject to losing their loved ones. In her lecture, Dr. Vasquez used the recent example of a hispanic man who committed suicide moments after being deported from the United States to showcase the desperation and oppression felt by many undocumented immigrants as a result of Trump’s crackdown on deportations. In the end of her lecture, Dr. Vasquez reminded the audience that America was built upon the drive and dreams of the immigrants who came here looking for a better life. As a result, as a population we should fight against the unlawful tide of stricter immigration laws and deportation cases. We should welcome immigrants with open arms.
The lecture was extremely eyeopening for me. Although, I’ve never agreed with Trump’s stricter immigration policies or his crackdown on deportation, I was never aware of the severity of the issue. My parents were immigrants themselves. They immigrated over thirty years ago to escape the Vietnam War. Through my parents dedication and hard work, they were able to attain their citizenship in the states and build a stable life for our family. My mother often worked long nights and was lucky enough to even start her own business. I believe criminal activity among immigrants should be looked at as a case by case bases. In no way should immigrants be considered lazy or unlawful because the majority of the time its the complete opposite. Immigrants often have to work longer hours with smaller wages to support their themselves and their families. Moreover, many immigrants also try their best to abide to U.S. laws for fear of trouble or deportation. The fact is that many immigrants come to the United States in hope of creating a better for future for themselves and their families. Many immigrants come to the United States in order to find safety and shelter from the oppressive and dangerous environments they face back at home. For example, this explains the recent influx of Muslim immigrants to Europe. The bigger question is that instead of helping and welcoming these people in the United States, why are vying to send them back? By doing so, we’re not only potentially denying thousands of families and people the safety they deserve, we’re also denying them and their children from attaining the sense of freedom and opportunity present in the United States.
The lecture reminded me of a small memory I had in highschool. I remember sitting in the first few weeks of my speech one class my Freshman year of highschool. My friend, Claudia, went up to give her first major speech on the topic of her choice: immigration. However, instead of receiving the support and recognition that she should have been given during her speech, I remember seeing frowns of disapproval and hearing snide remarks from the upperclassmen in the class. Needless to say, although this issue is receiving recognition among minorities, a lot of work still needs to be done in order to reverse the nature of racial profiling and stereotyping among immigrants and their families. Attention needs to be brought forth to educate the masses on the severity of stricter immigration laws and the nature of deportation.