Opinion: The shining city on the hill

Jared Strubel is a junior political science major and columnist for the Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]

Jared Strubel Kent State College Democrats

In spite of Republican criticisms of President Obama’s handling of immigration, particularly in regards to our southern border, the administration has shown its ability to enforce the law with record numbers of undocumented immigrants being deported. President Obama has shown his ability to handle border security through executive actions—the only measure he can take as Congress has yet to pass a bill addressing the issue. Border security is important; security stifles the flow of drugs, firearms, illegal immigrants and other prohibited goods. At the same time, we cannot create such a strict border policy that we prevent good people from reaching the United States and adding to our rich culture and heritage.

When people claim that all Mexicans are rapists and murderers, it does not advance the discourse in any positive way. It builds up barriers, reinforces racism and perpetuates misconceptions of immigration. As recent protests in Mexico show, where a certain business mogul’s effigy was burned, it doesn’t help our reputation with a close trading and political partner either. Divisive rhetoric may help poll numbers in a primary, but it does not provide a realistic solution to our problems at the border. If the United States, a supposed beacon of freedom and opportunity in the world, talks of building a wall to keep people out, does it not put us on the same level with the hard-liner governments of Europe erecting barriers of razor wire and military personnel to keep immigrants out?

The creation of a sensible immigration policy will create a better America. One based upon the positives that immigration can bring, and not based on fear of “the other” or racial stereotypes. Our nation was built upon the labour, the ingenuity, and the drive of immigrants to improve their lives and the lives of their posterity. Where would the U.S. be without people such as Andrew Carnegie, Albert Einstein, Audrey Hepburn and Nikola Tesla? Immigrants have played a crucial role in so many areas of American history—they’ve build our railroads, started businesses, and have fought and died for the United States from the very beginning.

At the base of the Statue of Liberty it reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your 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!” Moving forward as a nation, we should bear these words in mind and remember where many of us came from—from ancestors of a foreign land seeking to enrich their lives in this land of opportunity.

The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the College Democrats as an organization.