By Brooke Rouse
In 1900, my family left their beloved Germany for the United States of America. Their destination promised freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Over a century later, 12 million undocumented immigrants are stripped of this promise.
Immigrants are often used as scapegoats for economic struggles and cultural changes in America. A frequent claim made by opponents of lenient immigration policy is that undocumented immigrants harm employment opportunities for U.S. citizens. Furthermore, these exaggerated claims contribute to the harsh conditions and policies undocumented immigrants go through.
Although studies show that undocumented immigrant employment slightly competes with U.S. citizen minority groups, further research states that the impact is meager. Restrictive policy and the harsh treatment of undocumented immigrants are a threat to the values of America and are encouraged by baseless and exaggerated claims.
The American attitude towards undocumented immigrants has often distorted the issue of immigration. Some politicians target undocumented immigrants as the scapegoat for economic troubles and a threat to the American way of life. In the Sociological Forum, Sociologist Douglas S. Massey writes “Economic instability naturally creates insecurity and anxiety among citizens…yielding feelings of vulnerability that are further aggravated by rapid sociodemographic changes stemming from immigration.”
The villainization of undocumented immigrants pushes legislation that is restrictive towards undocumented immigrants and encourages the militarization of the southern border. Massey mentions the results of this nativist attitude contributes to, “The militarization of the border [which] continues with the extension of the border wall, the hiring of more agents by the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and increased budgets for apprehension and detention.”
Central American countries, particularly Mexico, are subjected to horrible stereotypes that dampen their humanity. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley professor Terence M. Garrett repeats the harsh words of past President Trump, who is notorious for anti-immigrant beliefs. “…The (President Trump) referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists, promised to build a wall to keep them out, and pledged to deport those Mexican migrants who have into the U.S.A illegally.” Anti-immigrant sentiments villainize undocumented immigrants and devalue the American dream for millions of immigrants and asylum seekers.