The word shakes us, the word “immigrant”. In what seems like a hot issue politically as of late, has been an issue since The United States of America was born. For roughly the 250 years of America’s existence, immigration has never shied away from the public spotlight. At least the hard takes people hold about the issue. Politicians, Activists, those with the voices that will be heard, are commonly heard through the national news syndicates spewing out any verbatim on immigration.
The issue with immigration in our country today is not the influx of immigrants, but more so the amount of immigrants who should not be here. The words “illegal” or “alien” may ring a bell. For the purpose of respect and practicality these are people who are “undocumented” immigrants. They do not have papers to show they are allowed to be here. If aliens do exist, the millions who call America home have done a terrific job arriving from their spaceships. Calling people who are undocumented immigrants “aliens” is a preemptive tact to make those who are in this country legally, view those who aren’t as subhuman.
The majority of undocumented immigrants that reside in the US today come from Latin America and Southeast Asia. Nearly half come from Mexico. The US-Mexican border is about 2,000 miles in length, and the majority of the people who cross over are in pursuit of better lives. This is no different than my family background. I am neither Latino nor Asian, but my ancestors were immigrants too. In the late 1800’s both sets of my great-grandparents on my father’s side arrived to America through Ellis Island, located in New York Bay and near the Statue of Liberty. In fact, about a quarter of Americans can trace their ancestry back to the Island. The island provided a thorough and set process in documenting the new peoples to this country.
My great-grandparents had come from Eastern Europe, a hot bed region of incoming immigrants at this time. They couldn’t speak English and they had little connections. In this regard they were similar to the immigrants in the US today. However, they didn’t have to worry about being deported after coming here, for they went through the documenting process at Ellis Island. They were legal, and that makes all the difference. Of the 41.3 million immigrants living in America, 11.5 are unauthorized to be here. The total immigrant population makes up 13% of the total population and undocumented immigrants make up 3.5%.
Not unlike the many unauthorized immigrants living in the shadows today, my legal immigrant great-grandparents put their shoes into the ground and worked hard to become something. Motivation came from the children they had, who they looked to make an opportunity for a better life. Distain for the “aliens” of today comes from the same distain of the “aliens” of yesterday. We are afraid because they are different. We are afraid because they have little.
In today’s case, we are afraid because they look different. These “aliens” are coming right up through the backdoor of our nation. The basic prejudices we hold against immigrants has not changed, but they have become more illuminated due to a difference in culture, skin color, and affluence. Irrational fears take control if we are not too careful, and it seems these fears have made us forget about our common humanity with the hungry, tired, and those seeking a life with more purpose.
American Astrophysicist and Astronaut John-David F. Bartoe, once said:
“As I looked down, I saw a large river meandering slowly along for miles, passing from one country to another without stopping. I also saw huge forests, extending along several borders. And I watched the extent of one ocean touch the shores of separate continents. Two words leaped to mind as I looked down on all this: commonality and interdependence. We are one world”.
The world comes with no borders, just as a basketball court comes with no lines. They are drawn on to serve a purpose. Regardless of the purpose they serve, this world is still our community. And it calls for us to serve those outside of the boundaries we live inside. Please spend some time this lent to think outside of the box, literally.
Josh Bozzick is a junior finance major from New Jersey. I enjoy Xavier basketball games, writing, watching sports, and reading articles