I find a cornucopia of things fascinating about this country but one in particular is its view on immigration. Why is it that the United States continues to legislate extravagant laws against immigration when it’s the very basis of our country? The United States was founded by immigrants and it was built by immigrants and slaves. Slaves came here by force. Immigrants came because they were looking for a better way of life.

Most Americans with the exception of African Americans are descendants of immigrants.

So why is there so much animosity directed against immigrants?

The immigration issue can also be summed up in part, to racism, pure and simple.

The recent proliferation of laws in states like Arizona and Alabama has proved this to be true. Alabama law directs police officers to verify and determine the immigration status of a Hispanic stopped for traffic related incidents. They even gone as far as to obligate K-12 grade schools to ensure the immigration status of each of their students. Now with a little over 20 percent of Alabama’s citizens being Hispanic, I wonder exactly how one informs those of this.

“Remember parents; please pack your kindergartner’s papers in their lunchbox?”

This makes me speculate about those who create the very laws I speak of. For example, Operation Wetback (a program from the 50’s set for the removal of illegal immigrants, mostly Mexican) is what Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce tried to bring back into legislation in 2006. He even attempted to remove birthright citizenship last year. Thankfully, on Nov. 8, 2011, Pearce was voted out of office.

Tell me, what exactly does an illegal immigrant look like? Most Americans would probably describe a Hispanic person as an illegal immigrant, while in reality an illegal immigrant can look like anyone of us, white, African decent, Asian, Middle Eastern, you get my point. How can a state justify stopping someone for being a specific race because of suspicion of being illegal? Or maybe asking your child’s Hispanic friend for their documents before allowing them to spend the night? That to me is something completely unacceptable for a country that claims to be the Land of the Free.

If one would sit down and consider all of the possibilities, they just might comprehend the many beneficiary attributes immigrants contribute to our society. One example is immigrants accept far cheaper wages in exchange for their physical labor. That would be the same physical labor that citizens of the U.S. would easily refuse. For instance, agricultural work in the U.S. had been dominated by illegal immigrants, but due to the recent enforcements employment has been low. Thus this forces the country to raise prices on products, or to acquire them from foreign distributors. This as we know would not benefit our ever failing economy. Therefore, America should devise a means that would enable citizenship in a faster and less problematic fashion.

 

Amirah Muhammad and Lauren Almonte are juniors at the Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School of Philadelphia, Inc. They are enrolled in journalism classes being taught by Tommie St. Hill, a former reporter at The Philadelphia Tribune.

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