Before placing judgment on new and/or undocumented immigrants, we really need to educate ourselves about the facts first. Oftentimes ideas spread, and the reality is that they don’t actually hold truth. Many harmful comments about immigrants (i.e., they come to steal “American” jobs, they are a strain on the economy, etc.) are not new comments and are highly inaccurate. It is so unfortunate that history keeps repeating itself in this way.
It is also important to recognize that when we make such comments, we are perpetuating an “us versus them” discourse that defines who should/should not reside in the United States. Such xenophobic arguments have been repeated over and over throughout U.S. history, and yet ironically we as Americans tend to pride ourselves in saying, “Look how far we have come. Look at how much progress we have made in accepting others.”
We also need to ask ourselves, “Why are people coming to the U.S. in the first place?” Oftentimes it comes down to a matter of survival. When you’re struggling to feed your family, and America requests your labor, you do what you need to do in order to survive. In the case of Mexico, NAFTA has really made it difficult for people in Mexico to survive economically. Immigration is NOT about people trying to “invade the nation” and take jobs away. I think that we need to shift our understanding of what immigration means.
Lastly, I feel that we need to understand the deeper implications that excluding undocumented students from higher education scholarships holds. This proposal appears to be articulated as a form of punishment for some kind of wrongdoing. It’s proposals like this that further perpetuate the image of undocumented immigration as a criminal act. Also, at the risk of sounding like a cliche, knowledge truly is power. Higher education opens so many doors for people, not to mention it provides the resources people need in order to think critically about the society in which they live. Deliberately restricting access to higher education involves taking power away from a people and creating an underclass and is yet another form of subordination.
L.H., Rio Rancho, NM., 24
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