by Sophie Andersen '21
Historically, America is a country based on immigration. With the exception of Native Americans, the original inhabitants of our land that have been continually exploited for centuries, the majority of Americans have ancestors who immigrated here. The development of all aspects of this country have been influenced by immigrants: our culture, levels of innovation, economy, and diversity. People come to America for a myriad of reasons. Some are pushed out of their own countries, while others come to escape war and persecution. Many come with the belief that America holds the promise of a better life. After all, the Declaration of Independence reads “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The topic of immigration and citizenship has generated a lot of conversation and controversy in America recently. Our president, Donald Trump, has been very outspoken in his views and motivates his supporters by proclaiming that “illegal” immigrants are a significant and disproportionate source of criminal activity. However, a study published in Social Science Quarterly found this generalization to be untrue, finding there to be no correlation between illegal immigrants and disproportionate levels of violence. In 2017, Trump imposed a travel ban that prohibited citizens from seven majority Muslim countries from receiving visas. More than 700 travelers were detained and 60,000 visas were revoked. He attempted to end DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows people without criminal records who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to receive benefits of not being deported for a renewable two-year period, and the opportunity for a work permit. This program has reduced the number of illegal immigrant households living in poverty, and most economists say that DACA has a net benefit to the economy of the U.S. (Center for American Progress). In February of this year, the Trump administration began separating minor children entering America from Mexico from their parents or relatives, announcing a “zero tolerance policy.” The American Academy of Pediatrics stated that this had caused “irreparable harm” to the children. Recently, he has sent to 5,000 troops to the Mexican border in anticipation of a caravan of Central American migrants.
In his first State of the Union address in January 2018, Trump delineated his plan for immigration reform. This included stopping the diversity visa lottery, which my mom won in 1995, allowing her to stay in America. In October of this year, Trump stated that he intends to remove the right of citizenship to people born in America to foreign nationals. My mom is from Japan, and my dad is from Norway. They both moved here to attend college and never left. My mom became an American citizen recently, after the results of the 2016 election, while my dad still lives here on a visa as an expatriate. While it was not the sole reason, my mom felt the responsibility of relinquishing her Japanese citizenship so that my brother and I’s right to live in America would never be threatened. The removal of birthright citizenship is a direct violation of the 14th amendment to the U.S. constitution, which states “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” My parents came to America for opportunity and education, and to pursue what they couldn’t in their home countries. I have seen firsthand how America can change people’s lives and because of this, I believe Trump’s outlook and policies on immigration are unconstitutional.