Over the past decades it’s no surprise that fear of immigration has risen to an alarming rate. But has it even actually been at a low? No it hasn’t, but you might say at times it’s not as much talked about. Then at other times it seems to be the only thing were discussing. A big portion of this concern comes from what minority is deemed a threat to our nation and you can count on journalism to make us question if we should be so welcoming. This goes back to the treatment of Italian immigrants during World War II, Middle Eastern immigrants following September 11th, or the current treatment of Hispanic immigrants during the trump administration. A big role in how these people are treated is in connection in what we see on the news or read about in articles.
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As beloved as Italian cuisine, sports cars, and fashion is in today’s society, things were different during WWII. During this time 600, 000 Italian immigrants were forced to carry “enemy alien” identity papers. These are a requirement similar to the system of the Star of David that the Jews had to wear in Germany. Italian immigrants helped provide the labor for American factories and mines and helped build roads, dams, tunnels, and other infrastructure. Although in the 1950s and 1960s, Italians encountered prejudice and negative stereotypes. Much of that was related to the Mafia. Often victimized by organized crime, Italian Americans also found their collective reputation tarnished by organized crime, even as they climbed the socioeconomic ladder. A lot of this blame can also be put on stories such as the god father. The news played big rolls in this by reporting news from the immigrant’s home countries back here in the United States. It made as a target on the backs of these new comers. Organized crime followed those not even involved and made them a victim to discrimination.
Another time in history where we see an agenda pushed on immigration is following the acts of terrorism that happened on September 11th. As someone a Middle Eastern American who lived through this I can speak first hand on what I saw in the news. Not only was the agenda against immigration but also current residents. The news following 9/11 was constant coverage of Arabic countries and videos of al-Qaida soldiers training and sending threats to the United States. According to the data provided by the Office of Immigration Statistics,36 the category of Muslim immigration most dramatically impacted by 9/11 and its aftermath has been that of temporary visitors – “nonimmigrants.” From a high in FY 2001 of over 710,000 business and personal visitors from Muslim countries tracked by the American government, the number dropped to only 465,000 the following year. “The largest numerical drop between 2000 and 2004 has been in the number of tourist and business visas issued to individuals from Gulf countries, which include Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Oman.”37
While part of this drop mirrored the broad slowdown in international travel caused by 9/11, these Gulf countries were also specifically (although not exclusively) singled out on the list of twenty-six predominately Muslim countries that became the focus of many of the Bush Administration’s more aggressive immigration enforcement policies and more rigorous visa application screening procedures. With an interview with Muhammed El Dosugi a Sudanese neighbor who was taken into questioning after the 9/11 events, he told me he was simply taken in because his name was Muhammed. This was the same first name as one of the hijackers. He was traumatized for life and he blames in on the news repetition for days nonstop of his first name. He also stated how he hadn’t been able to see his brother for 16 years after he was denied a visitation visa to the states from 2001 up till recently being approved in 2017. Prior to this Mr.El Dosugi’s family had been issued visa frequently to visit there family here in New Jersey.
The last minority and most recent is happening today and that is with Hispanics, mostly Mexican immigrants. With President Trumps administration discrimination against Mexican immigrants and Hispanics overall are at an all-time high. With stories of drug cartels and senseless crime happening in other countries the news is pushed to us. With figures like El Chapo and the Mexican cartel news outlets drill in to the minds of Americans that our countries issues are caused by them. Being shown one sided narratives of crime being committed here in the states by Hispanics also pushes a narrative of fear. Some consider Mexican Americans similar to European Americans of a century ago that arrived in the United States with modest backgrounds but were eventually able to participate fully in society. Others argue that Mexican Americans have been racialized throughout U.S. history and this limits their participation in society. An example of how Hispanics are being crucified is the deportation camps where undocumented and some documented people are being held after being brought in through raids or at the borders. Some news articles and officials have even called them concentration camps. Esquire Mag and PS Mag have compared them and in fact said these are exactly what the detention centers are. Consistent pressure and threats of tariffs from the Trump administration have spurred the government of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, better known as AMLO, to crack down on migration routes. The effect can be felt especially on the Mexican-Guatemalan border, where 6,000 Mexican National Guard troops have been dispatched to curtail illegal immigration.
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Thousands of migrants are spending months in limbo in border towns near the United States, as they wait for asylum applications to be processed. While many Mexicans are still working to assist and comfort the travelers, the poll showed that 60% of responders said they believe these migrants add a burden to the country's already stretched services.(Cnn.com). Although the media has the power to make us fear immigration it also has the power to make us side with it. As much as Hispanics are being discriminated against in immigration I believe because of the attitude towards our current president history is starting a new chapter. It is now an equal two sided debate. As much hate as they receive people are now advocating to the need for equality and fair treatment. The debate on whether we need a boarder wall has its pros and cons and is not being pushed to what we fear. The fear of immigration will always be an issue in our country , but whether that is an issue we are in fear of or favor of naturally all comes down to what agenda the media is pushing on us. They are the gatekeepers and they hold the power to steer the public in a specific direction.
- Interview- Muhammed El Dosugi (201) 628-4936
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