Perspectives on Immigration

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The summer of 2018 has been marked by a series of significant events surrounding the issue of immigration to the United States, especially from Central America and Mexico.

Much of the discussion has surrounded the Trump Administration’s “Zero Tolerance Policy,” which involves prosecuting migrants detained by the United States for attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. In the process of enforcing this policy, adult migrants were often separated from child migrants. This separation was not a direct feature of the policy, but they did often occur in the process of adults being detained and referred for prosecution. This caused a controversy in the United States, as many Americans were split over the issue. Some viewed the enforcement of the policy as essential for honoring laws passed in the United States governing immigration, while others viewed it as contrary to values regarding the preservation of family units.

Minors who were separated from adult counterparts were housed in facilities in the United States. A significant amount of political pressure was applied on the Trump administration to modify its policy on illegal immigration. On June 20, 2018, the President reversed the Zero Tolerance policy and announced that families would be detained together. “So we’re going to have strong, very strong borders, but we’re going to keep the families together,” Trump stated in reference to his decision. The government worked to reunite families over the ensuing weeks. As of August 16, 2018, 565 children had still not been reunited with their families and 2,089 had been reunited.

While many Americans’ attitudes toward the subject has been influenced by a range of political perspectives, another perspective exists from the position of the immigrant. Many migrants from Central America cited reasons such as gang violence, extreme poverty, and lack of economic opportunity as reasons for seeking solace in another country. This view is expressed commonly by migrants from other parts of the world as well. Pat Smith, a migrant from West Africa, cited in her description of her journey to America, “I was very fortunate to come to America because I received opportunities that I would not have received in Africa. I was able to afford my home; I did not have to worry about the outbreak of war or a coup d’etat, or an overthrow of the government, or not being able to complete high school; healthcare was accessible through my employment, which helped me because I had many health issues. I was able to enjoy the stability that the U.S. provides and get involved in my community.”

The range of perspectives that exist on the issue make immigration policy a much more challenging issue to navigate than many might presume. Moving forward, the subject is anticipated by some to play a role in voter behavior for the November elections. In the words of the President, “I think we’re going to have much more of a red wave than what you’re going to see as a phony blue wave. Blue wave means crime, it means open borders.” The Pew survey revealed that immigration issues were marked by 79 percent of Trump supporters to be “very important.”

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Perspectives on Immigration