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Imagine not feeling safe in the place you call your home, not feeling safe in the place you grew up or were raised in due to the gangs that surrounded the area, or the “corrupt” government in the country you live in. How would you feel if in fleeing that awful life to find a new, better life and on the way there you experience things you wouldn’t want to experience in a nightmare, only to be sent back or to be treated poorly when you get there, or should I say if you get there.
This is what immigrants go through every day, and the way that the U.S. government works it makes it almost impossible to gain safe passage into the country. This is what Laura Tillman talks about in her article titled “Inside the Slow-Motion Disaster on the Southern Border” and in John Oliver’s television series “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Immigration Courts.” If they do so happen to gain safe passage into the U.
S. there are many ways in which they will be treated differently than other Americans and must take on the American cultures and values, which is what Tom Gjelten touches on in his article “Should Immigration Require Assimilation.” All of these sources explain the reality of the immigration system and how its problems impact immigrants.
The biggest reason most immigrants flee their home country in search of a better life is because they fear that they were in danger where they used to reside, whether they were in danger of a gang, or someone attacking them with a sort of hostility based on their beliefs, and when they get to the U.S. the fear of being separated from your family. But to gain asylum in the U.S. you need some proof of some sort, proof of why you fear going back to that “nightmare” that was your life. You need to prove to these people that hold your future in their hands why you deserve to stay, reliving that same horrifying traumatic story through your head as you tell them all the details of what happened to you or a loved one, why you left and what you experienced on the way. The majority of asylum cases get rejected and the people are thrown right back into what they feared and sometimes they won’t make the trip back or die from what made them run away in the first place. Laura Tillman posted this testimony about immigration and asylum on LitHub on July 20, 2018. Laura is an American journalist who was trying to show Americans the harsh reality of how the asylum, and the immigration systems work in the America, she shows us the many different views and stories from people like immigration officers, attorneys, and mothers.
One huge problem with the U.S. immigration system is if they cannot afford to pay for a lawyer, they don’t have the right to an attorney. According to John Oliver only 37% of people who have an immigration court case are represented by lawyers which means a majority of immigrants won’t have anyone represent them in court and will have to represent themselves. Representing themselves makes it extremely difficult for them to win their case. It would be difficult for an adult to represent themselves in court, but what makes this such a big problem is that there is a great percentage of these people that are children. There are so many young kids that are age 2 or 3 that have had to end up representing themselves in court because the families of that child can’t afford a lawyer. Most children this age have a hard time answering general questions let alone understanding the immigration law. John Oliver shows us an experiment which was done in which she asked children of a young age questions that they would ask them in court. Most of them answer questions like “do you speak English as your native language?” or “if you were removed which country would you like to designate as your country of removal?” and give answers like “Yeah, I like my balloon!” or “pizza!” (Maldonado et al., 2016). This shows that children should not be allowed to represent themselves in court and should be required to have a lawyer. This source is a television series that aired on April 1, 2018 called Last week tonight with John Oliver and the title of this episode is “Immigration Courts” in which shows everyone the horrifying reality of what the majority of children, and their families have to go through and why their life depends on it.
Naturalization ceremonies are a beautiful thing, the new U.S. citizens waiving the flags of their new home with excitement and joy, where those futures that they once deemed impossible to come by now seem possible, whether these futures were to take advantage of the new economic opportunities they have or to take part of the cultures and traditions as part of their new nation. Finally, after all that time having to learn English and having to learn the importance of the U.S. government and history that most Americans don’t even know about. In the article “Should Immigration Require Assimilation?” it mentions that some woman from immigrations services to cheer once they become Americans “like they had been reborn” (Gjelten et al., 2015). She told them to speak English as much as they could and fulfill their responsibilities as Americans, but to also continue speaking their language and stick with their own cultural backgrounds as well. The controversy is that becoming a citizen of America immigrants are required to learn about the American cultures and traditions and as Gjelten quotes Robert Putnam at the end of his article “is that at the end we shall see that the challenge is best met not by making ‘them’ like ‘us,’ but rather by creating a new, more capacious sense of ‘we.’”
Tom Gjelten, John Oliver, and Laura Tillman all seemed to show an agreement that the immigrations need to be improved in some form. They all agree that the system that immigrants have to go through is harsh and vile in many different aspects including asylum, family separation, assimilation, migrant camp conditions. They all agree that immigrants need more help from people that have the power to make a change. Lawyers,
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