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In the year 2017, immigration is as big an issue today as when the country was founded. The past 400 years there have been many reasons why people have immigrated to America. Some to not only practice religion of their choice, but to escape war and impoverished lands. There is a common debate today on whether or not to open our boarders and allow immigrants into our country to live the life they’ve dreamed of. To live in America, “the land of the free, the home of the brave”. However, on the alternative side, the stricter republican political parties would say that having open borders opens us up to threats that violate our freedom and endangers the families we love so dearly. The question remains, on how much is too much and is there anything we can do to have a middle ground?
America has always seen an increased number of immigrants when times in their own countries have become too much to bare. This dates back to as earlier as the 1840’s when much of Ireland migrated to the U.S. due to the potato famine. We’ve taken in Chinese immigrants due to starvation and drought, and with the Industrial Revolution accepted more than 20 million immigrants due to our technology advances.
In 1882 when the government started paying closer attention to those migrating to the United States, that they actually started being proactive regarding entry. Port such as Ellis Island and Angel Island served as gateways to our country. The most current debate is regarding the Muslim faith and how their belief system coincides honestly with a lot of terrorist activity from extremists. The current President, Donald J. Trump will have you believe that our borders will be safer if we continue to follow his “Muslim Ban”. Polls appear to be a good mix, phone polls stating they are opposed, while web indicates they are in support of it. What makes us unique is that our country has relied on being culturally diverse, a unique blend of individuals who bring about our own unique attributes. Those unique individuals are among you today and have gone on to create some of the best inventions. Prime example on this is Steve Jobs, when his mom migrated from Syria in 1954. Without that, we may have never knew what an iPhone was. As of the most recent statistics in 2015, there were 43.2 million immigrants residing on US soil (13.3%) and coming into this country. If you took a poll today on whether people were against immigration, the chances of them saying they are totally against it, are slim. If you turn the same question around and ask if they are against Syrian refugees, the numbers explode. The reason why, is due to the threat of ISIS and the everyday fear.
The bottom line is our country is built on the foundation of immigrants who have gone on to do great things. President Obama has been quoted saying, “99.9% of Muslims are peace-seeking” and cause no threat to our society. However if you think about it from the numbers alone, 8 radicalized, Muslim terrorists carried out the recent Paris attacks in 2016. When taken into account what President Obama is saying, that leaves 0.1% (10 people) out of 10,000 refugees who can cause substantial harm. Some would say that homegrown terrorism is our bigger concern, and by all means they aren’t wrong. But are we closing the boarders with the threat solely based on Syrian Refugees and ISIS or are we doing it because we truly fear all walks of life?
In closing, if one were to look into their own family history, chances are you’ll have an migrated ancestor who once made their way across the ocean to a safer America. The truth is, every one of us comes from an immigrant at one time or another. The only documented individuals, who lived on US soil, were the Native American Indians. While fear remains a big cause for the recent talk of immigration reform, lets us not forget the famous words on the Statue of Liberty as you sail into the New York harbor: “Give me your tired, your poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”.
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