Brazen incendiary rhetoric, ignorance of the facts, and bias fueled anti-immigrant sentiment are polluting the immigration conversation.
There is no question Donald Trump is out to make a name for himself in the political arena. Having declared his candidacy for the presidency, Trump has embarked on a full-blown attack on immigrants – especially undocumented immigrants – perhaps forgetting at some point that his own ancestors were immigrants seeking a better life in the United States.
You see, although Donald Trump was born on June 14, 1946, in Queens, NY, his mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, was a Scottish immigrant. Trump’s paternal grandparents were German immigrants. Trump speaks little of his immigrant ancestry, yet engages in aggressive posturing against today’s immigrants.
Trump wants to build a wall on the southern border of the United States to keep “illegals” from invading our country. Trump implies that “illegal” immigrants to the United States enter only through the southern border and as such we need increased enforcement at such border. Facts, however, show the contrary. Studies indicate there has been a significant decline in immigrants crossing the southern border and overall the undocumented immigrant population has fallen from an estimated high of 12.2 million undocumented immigrants in 2007 to roughly 11.2 million undocumented immigrants in the United States as of January 2012.
But with increasingly offensive language, Trump’s trumpet just keeps getting louder and louder while failing to provide any reasonable solutions for the obvious and ever-growing reality – we must redefine and revamp our entire immigration system.
The offensive rants turned up again just last week as Trump and other conservative candidates threw the term “anchor baby” back into the debate. Shifting the discussion away from the undocumented, former Gov. Jeb Bush stated the term referred more to “fraud committed by Asians coming to this country to have babies.” Reading between the lines, could it be that Jeb Bush was intimating, or even demanding that this nation repeal birthright citizenship? Time after time, restrictionist politicians use the “anchor baby” theory as a means to support the call to repeal the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment, the constitutional provision granting citizenship to anyone born in the United States since 1868. But what everyone seems to forget, or conveniently ignore, is that under current immigration laws, a parent of a child born in the United States must wait until that child turns 21 years of age to even have the opportunity to seek legal status.
In today’s political climate, if immigrants are not being labeled “rapists and murderers,” they are accused of taking our jobs and depleting our resources. It seems such comments are welcomed by fringe supporters who believe candidates should not cave to “political correctness.” However, this issue is not one of political correctness. These words do nothing more than to antagonize, instill fear, promote xenophobia, and incite anger, violence, and exclusion.
None of the rhetoric used in recent immigration conversations conveys established facts or proposes legitimate solutions. All it does is point the finger at one population or another, whether its Mexicans invading the southern border or Asians coming solely for the purpose of giving birth to U.S. citizen babies. Sadly, this is just a modern day example of our country’s long history of scapegoating groups of immigrants based on irrational fears and ethnic stereotypes. Nothing about this line of posturing leads to solutions for keeping or bringing in the talent companies need to compete in a global economy, keeping families together, and promoting our economic future – all of which, as studies have demonstrated time and time again, immigration reform will bring.
The diversity of our nation and our ability to recognize the contributions of individuals from all races and genders, of varying economic status, of differing creeds, various religions, a multitude of national origins, and different sexual orientations, is what makes us the great country that we are. The obscenity of the current rhetoric has no place in our society. We must demand that leaders understand the facts and recognize the opportunities in creating a rational and fair immigration system to lead our nation to the next chapter in its history. We can only move forward and prosper by embracing the diversity within our territory and welcoming those who wish to be a part of it.