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Denying immigrants is denying our history

In today's political climate, immigration and refugee debates are at the forefront but our roots must factor into our decisions.

by Lily Hart, Writer

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The year is 10,000 BCE. The first people cross the Bering Strait and begin to populate the Americas. Some of these people would become Native Americans. Fast forward 11,000 years or so to the first English religious refugees to settle in Virginia, when they fled their homeland to escape religious persecution.

These Europeans were not the first people here in the ‘New World.’ They came to find hundreds of tribes of indigenous peoples who had established civilizations and had been there thousands of years- the first Americans. Since then, the rest of Americans have been waves of immigrants and their descendants. When considering this, it puts immigration and refugee debates in a new light.

Today, the Trump administration has brought immigration and refugee debates to the forefront of politics by allowing closeted racism and xenophobia to come out in regard to the effect of immigrants on our country (focusing on the Middle East and Mexico using stereotypes about terrorism, job loss and drugs). These ideas have resulted in Trump’s travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries and the authorization of his infamous wall, according to Time Magazine.

Also under the Trump administration, 60,000 Haitians have just lost their Temporary Protection Status (TPS) in the US and have been given 18 months to leave or face deportation according to the Washington Post. They have to return to a country still feeling the effects from its 2010 earthquake.

When deciding about political issues, we need to remember how this country came to be and our own ancestry as humans. Migration has been a part of the human race since as far back as we’ve tracked our history. Supporting the movements to decrease opportunities for immigrants in the US or deport them, both legal and illegal, could mean life or death for thousands of people.

That being said, there have been populations of people from many different cultures in the US for hundreds of years; this is the only country we’ve known. That is the same way for many first and second generation immigrants today. Deporting them would be sending them to a country they’ve never known. Of the Haitians losing TPS, 27,000 of them are US-born children, who have known no home but the US.

It’s not just the fact that people don’t want foreigners coming into the country. There is a specific concern that a foreign culture will be imposed on Americans. History teaches us that our European ancestors did precisely this to the indigenous Americans in the last millennium, and their wildly destructive imposition of foreign culture is evident. It is somewhat hypocritical that this is what some Americans fear most in immigrants today.

It’s not only Europeans with PhDs that have won the Nobel Prize. It is the people fleeing their country because their lives are at stake and they have no other options. They are the people that have no chance in their home countries at a future because of certain laws or political chaos. We need to make becoming a citizen and even just legally immigrating here more accessible to the people that need it most. “The American Dream” is not waiting 20 years to be allowed in the country. This country was built on immigrants, so we cannot afford to deport them or deny them access to our country now or ever.

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Denying immigrants is denying our history