Make America Welcoming Again

Make America Welcoming Again

Nia Caldwell

President Donald J. Trump proudly stated at a rally during the start of his campaign that he wanted to “Make America Great Again.”

He followed this slogan by his promise to “Build a great wall along the southern border” because “when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best… they’re sending people that have lots of problems… they’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They are rapists.” His supporters then began to chant in haunting unison, “Build that wall.”

After making this campaign promise, the President has retracted his statements and agreed to work with Congress on letting DACA recipients stay in the country for at least six months in exchange for a bigger budget for border protection security which does not include building the wall. The very supporters he invigorated with his hateful rhetoric aren’t backing him anymore. In fact, Newsweek reported that some of his supporters burned their “Make America Great Again” hats. According to the Pew Research Center, 79% of Trump supporters were in support of Trump’s efforts to build the wall, which explains their disappointment.

Still, despite his fickleness, President Trump’s negative rhetoric on immigration has created an atmosphere of divisiveness. And while Trump may be becoming more lenient in his immigration policies, this doesn’t erase his past animosity with implementing the Muslim ban and the fact that Trump built his base on the exclusion of outsiders, fueling a whole group of people with the same attitude.

President Trump’s main argument against accepting people from foreign countries is that they bring crime. President Trump has correlated illegal immigration and crime, demonizing outsiders. At a campaign rally in Arizona last year, President Trump said, “Countless innocent American lives have been stolen because our politicians have failed in their duty to secure our borders and enforce our laws.” He also claimed at the Republican National Convention that, “we are going to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities.” In reality, the FBI reports that violent crime has dropped 48 percent within the last four years despite immigration rising 5 percent. 3.3 percent of native-born males are incarcerated while 1.8 percent of males the same age are. Also, according the the Sentencing Commision, only 11 immigrants were sentenced for murder out of 91 murders studied in 2015. That same study showed that 95 percent of sexual assault cases were perpetrated by natural born citizens. Trump has built on the fears many of his supporters already have with propagating inaccurate facts and prejudices.

In fact, in the Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice researchers conducted a 40 year study that found as immigration increased in major cities, crimes of murder, burglary and robbery decreased.

According to the New York Times, there are 43 million immigrants here in America, most of them nonviolent and regular citizens. Along with this, there are many people in this country who are simply waiting to receive their green card and be granted citizenship.

It’s important to have empathy for those who leave their countries for a new opportunity like so many Americans’ ancestors did. Except Americans’ European ancestors of yesterday didn’t come as peacefully as those that are today. Nevertheless, the first immigrants made America their home. They flocked to America for ample opportunity, and an escape from the problems of their homeland in search of a better life. This sentiment has not changed for most immigrants today.

Onuchi Ndee (11), moved with her family to Houston from Nigeria in 2005. They received their green card in 2017 after 12 years.

She said, “The process was beyond frustrating, my dad had to work in Canada away from us because he could get a work visa there, but not here. We felt like America was home, but it didn’t feel the same way about us.”

Ndee knows how complex the system is and understands the desperation of many who arrive here.

“I understand people risking it all for the opportunity for a better life for their children,” she said.

It’s easy to say “wait and trust the system so you can come here legally,” but as Ndee said, the process is “complex and intricate.”

Complex and intricate is right. Currently, almost 5 million people abroad are waiting on their visas. According to the U.S Department of Homeland Security, there are about 230,000 people waiting in line for their green card and this converts to a 50-year wait.

Yes, it is important to make sure we prevent crime, but one must be cautious to not tread on the side of ludicrousy. We should open our arms to people looking for asylum or a new place for opportunity instead of placing bans and having an attitude of exclusiveness.

I give the President his props on coming to a compromise on DACA; but based on his previous comments criminalizing the people who enter this country, I can only be so hopeful.

I think it’s important to add that many come to the defense of President Trump by saying he’s “changed” or retracted statements since first saying these outlandish sound bites. But he still said these things and they have an impact. He said them to appeal to his base supporters, thereby galvanizing them.

The President wants to Make America Great Again by “saving America.” At a rally in Phoenix last September, he said, “if we can save American lives, American jobs and American futures, together we can save America itself.”

“Save” suggests that America is in danger. What does America need saving from exactly? Because it’s not the recipients of DACA, 72 percent of whom received higher education. It’s not the hundreds of thousands of people simply waiting on their shot to come in the country, or even the illegal immigrants who commit less crimes than natural born citizens. The President should probably try to “save” us from the white supremacists he defended in Charlottesville, the Russians from interfering in another election, or maybe those who have been energized by his messages of nationalism, those who are opposed to outsiders who hope to share our American Dream.