American Diversity, American Exceptionalism

Event Date: 

Thursday, June 1, 2017 - 12:00am

Event Date Details: 

Further reading:

Preston, Julia. "Immigrants Aren't Taking Americans' Jobs, New Study Finds." New York Times, 21. Sept. 2016,

Dahl, Julia. "How big a problem is crime committed by immigrants?" CBS News, 27 Jan. 2017.

By Sarah Greene

Making America great again is not new. A staple for freedom, liberty, human rights and diversity? The great America, the home of the free and the brave? The home of many cultures and toleration of different peoples. How do we make a nation so great, great again?

It is often believed that the United States was founded on the idea that if you work hard and contribute to society, you will be awarded and protected. The Founding Fathers who formed these ideals, which eventually became laws, were the offspring of immigrants who came from various parts of the world. As their ancestors came to North America, they searched for a freedom that would be tolerable of differences.

However, there have been exceptions as to what kind of differences would be tolerated or accepted. In order to become American, the Native Americans had to be slaughtered. Fortunately, throughout the centuries the US society has started recognizing that racism, bigotry and hatefulness was also a foundation of the nation, along with the lofty ideas of freedom and a new beginning. Modernism, many argue, has brought about this realization and clarification but despite this so-called “progress” in the way of thinking, prejudices still plague the American society.

I firmly believe that those who reside in the United States and contribute to society both socially, politically and economically deserve a place in this country regardless of their geographical or cultural background. The recent discrimination against undocumented immigrants has made a huge impact in the lives of many people living in the United States. Fear, trepidation and feelings of desolation and desperation have prospered in many communities in the United States in recent months and that is in large part due to our newly elected president and his stance on controversial issues.

The threat of deportation occupies the minds of undocumented immigrants as a menacing probability that can occur from a raid or even an ICE checkpoint. The current system of deportation is not only repugnant, it is also extremely apathetic to the children of the deported parents. There have been many instances in which children were left to come home to an empty house without any knowledge of their parents’ deportation.

A majority of this push against immigration is rooted in misconceptions, stereotypes and “finger-pointing.” Undocumented immigrants have been blamed for social, economic and political problems due to the inability to defend themselves out of fear and threats of deportation or incrimination. Undocumented immigrants, or “illegal aliens” as these groups were inhumanely framed, often contribute to society in very positive ways that are often not recognized.

We must not forget that the primary reason that many immigrants are undocumented is because of the extensive and arduous process to citizenship, along with the fear of deportation. Many of the undocumented were brought to the United States as children. These “dreamers” are most vulnerable. In recent months, there has been an emphasis on the criminalization of undocumented immigrants, however, ironically, only “ 1.6 percent of immigrant males age 18-39 are incarcerated, compared to 3.3 percent of the native-born,” according to Julia Preston at New York Times. The motive for much of this criminalization is to raise fear and for politicians to find a group to blame the country’s problems on.

Stereotypes, generalizations and prejudices often root and leach off of propaganda and fake news. In a society that is so technologically-driven and dependent on the influx of information and news media, the constant flow of fact-less infotainment can be overwhelming. Many Americans are constantly exposed to misleading, striking and shocking links which lead to websites that often contain misconceptions and false information.

Not only is a majority of this information false, but much of it is also guilty of framing, which is the effect of using specific diction in order to establish a specific feeling revolving around the topic. A typical accusation of undocumented immigrants is that they are stealing jobs. However, studies have found that the availability of American jobs to citizens is often unaffected by undocumented immigrants, except in regard to citizens recently applying for a job after dropping out of high school, according to CBS News. Many undocumented immigrants take up jobs that are left available by U.S. citizens due to low wages and lack of benefits.

There are many misconceptions regarding undocumented immigrants and their effect on American society. Many citizens believe that immigrants need to be restrained and monitored due to false impressions about the supposed stress on natural resources, the food supply and the economy. However, there are many flaws in the American immigration system and many fallacies revolving around the people involved.

Here are some of them. For one, the immigrants already living here must go through a long and strenuous process to become a legal citizen, despite the fact that many pay taxes, rent and many other living expenses and fees. Those who apply while still in their native country must also wait for an extended amount of time and get through many obstacles just to be able to come into the U.S. legally.

Second, the deportation system is regulated negligently and allows for the separation of families, couples and siblings. Next, many figures in the media are demonizing undocumented immigrants, who make up a significant amount of the population, simply based on their legal status.

Finally, many undocumented immigrants are accused of being criminals or trouble-makers. Undocumented immigrants are suffering an enormous amount of discrimination and prejudice due to misconceptions, propaganda and a broken immigration system. The first step to make America great could be to start with addressing these issues.