By Emma Kolick.
Democracy and equality are considered by many Americans the foundation of our country. However, hundreds of thousands of immigrants attempting to cross the Mexico-United States border are treated in a way that suggests these values have been neglected or forgotten. Instead of being met with acceptance and empathy, families are routinely greeted with resistance and even violence. Amongst other policies, the Trump administration created a “zero-tolerance” policy, which led to nearly 3,000 children being separated from their families. Following the deaths of two children in a three-week span, politicians and citizens alike are criticizing Trump’s policies that seemingly disregard the safety and health of countless immigrants.
Currently, the vast majority of immigrants come from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. These immigrants walk nearly 2,000 miles in order to escape poverty, drugs and gang violence that has overtaken much of their countries. With nearly 60% of Guatemala and Honduras citizens living in poverty, many make the arduous journey to the Mexico-United States border, desperately hoping to evade their violence-ridden countries. In particular, El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Despite the severe adversities that engulf their everyday lives, many false stereotypes have served to diminish the reality of their hardships.
Immigrants attempting to cross the Southern border are typically portrayed as drug dealers, with the media often promoting this false depiction. President Trump and his administration only further this inaccurate stereotype, even referring to a group of immigrants attempting to cross the Southern border as “stone cold criminals,” though he had insufficient evidence to back up his derogatory claim. The false representation of Mexicans was even the premise of Trump’s starting campaign for the presidency, as he referred to them as “rapists” and “drug dealers.” It is appalling that the President of the United States would even think to categorize an immensely diverse group of people into such an abhorrent, inaccurate generalization.
In addition, many American citizens believe immigrants don’t pay taxes and that they steal jobs from native-born Americans, leading to increased unemployment rates. However, both documented and undocumented immigrants contributed a total of $11.63 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2018 alone. Moreover, immigrants do not steal jobs from American workers, but rather boost the economy by creating new businesses, which leads to an array of new jobs. Given all this, it’s clear the Trump Administration’s past and present policies fail to recognize what immigrants truly contribute to society.
During Trump’s presidential campaign, he insisted Mexico would pay for a nearly 2,000-mile long wall that would stretch across the border of the US and Mexico. Now, more than two years into his presidency, he is demanding $5.7 billion from Congress in order to build the wall, after Mexico refused to fund it. As a result of the dispute regarding funding for border security between Trump and the Democrats, the government experienced the longest shutdown in its history.
Furthermore, he announced that he was considering his option of declaring a national emergency, which would give him the authority to begin the construction of the wall without the support of the people. His administration claims the purpose of the wall is to deal with the problems that America faces internally before addressing foreign issues. However, 380,000 federal employees were placed on a temporary leave of absence, while an additional 420,000 were forced to work without pay. While the Trump administration argues that their primary aim is to put America first, their actions have impacted not only American citizens in a harmful way, but those who have already migrated from foreign countries as well.
Moreover, those who have successfully migrated into the United States have to contend with numerous problems. Though many American citizens tend to believe immigrants bring crime and violence into our country, Native-born Americans have higher crime rates than those who migrate into the United States. Along with this, immigrants face severe prejudice from countless people. While numerous American citizens maintain the notion that immigrants are people who should be feared, this idea is simply hypocrisy, as innumerable immigrants who live in the United States are treated with hostility and hatred.
“Sometimes I get afraid when I go out with my family, knowing that there are people who are so against immigration,” said one NRHS freshman whose family moved from a foreign country to the United States three years before she was born. Nearly every day this student deals with the fear of living in a country where people can be remarkably intolerant. “It makes me upset that people think my family is dangerous when all we want to do is just live a good, healthy life in the United States,” the student continued. In a country that is a nation of immigrants and was founded on the values of democracy and equality, no one should ever feel unsafe because they are simply living.
It is difficult to believe that the President of the United States could be so unempathetic, as he blatantly disregards the reasons why the vast majority of immigrants come to the Mexico-United States border and instead fixates on the false stereotypes he has created. Rather than constructing a massive, expensive and unnecessary wall, Trump should be more focused on eliminating systematic racism and embracing future and current immigrants in our country.
**The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various column authors on this Website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Royal News Staff or North Royalton High School.
Emma Kolick is currently a freshman at North Royalton High School. She is involved in numerous clubs such as student council, Key Club, Spanish Club, Fish Club, and STAND. She is also a member of the girls track team. Outside of school she enjoys yoga, spending time with her friends, reading and writing. After high school, she plans to attend college and possibly pursue a career in education and journalism.