When did immigration become such a bad thing?

Shae Slaughter

The U.S. that we all know and love (at least most of the time) has been built off one very important thing: immigration. Most of the nation’s citizens are descendants of people who immigrated to the country, many of whom didn’t do so politely or legally. Yes, I’m talking to you, Andrew Jackson. Our Founding Fathers were not even familiar with the idea of illegal immigration because during the 18th century, it simply did not exist. Still, this era was a pivotal time for our country as a whole, and it makes me wonder when immigration became so bad. 

There are plenty of people who believe that immigration is problematic in almost any case. Immigrants are often considered to be stealing U.S. jobs, committing crimes or draining society in other ways, but most studies find these claims to be utterly false. In fact, the Partnership for a New American Economy found that U.S. immigrants or their children have started 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies

If immigrants and their children are busy owning so many businesses in the U.S., can they really steal “our” jobs, too? Most likely not. The impact of legally immigrated workers on natural-born citizens’ jobs is incredibly low. Even illegal immigrants manage to work without stealing jobs because oftentimes they accept the jobs that U.S. workers will not. It is easy to blame high unemployment on outsiders, but there is more to it than extra bodies in the census. 

Immigrants also don’t account for an irrationally large number of crimes despite what some people might say. In a report done by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, only four percent of the total prison population between 2013 and 2016 was made up of non-citizens. That is certainly not a ridiculous amount, especially in comparison to the fact that 79.9 percent of the prison system is made up of U.S. citizens, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. 

Of course, I think that everyone would prefer that no one enters our borders illegally because, you know, it is a crime. That being said, why do we make it so hard for people to enter our borders with the proper papers? What are we holding against them? 

To even begin the process, there are countless forms, background checks and interviews. Though many sources say the process only takes six months, it oftentimes takes longer—much longer—not to mention the fee of over $700, which is pretty steep for many potential immigrants. I am not saying the U.S. should remove all immigration restrictions, but I don’t think it would hurt to reevaluate how we go about allowing people into our country. 

Regardless of your personal beliefs, these immigrants were a huge part of what made the U.S. great in the first place. There is no reason to keep up this “us versus them” attitude. Plenty of studies show just how helpful and beneficial immigrants are to our population. Despite our current government’s beliefs, these human beings are not out to get us. They are not criminals, they are not leeches and they certainly aren’t going to ruin our employment prospects. There is no reason to resist immigration. People from other countries are not less than we are. They, too, are looking for the “American dream.”