The Complex Realities of Immigration

Categories: ImmigrantsMigration

As defined in the Merriam- Webster Dictionary, immigration is the act of traveling into a country for the purpose of permanent residence. In recent news and since president Donald Trump’s election there have been numerous stories about what to do with immigrants. Securing the borders, therefore ‘stopping’ illegal immigration has been the topic of many discussions, but who are America’s undocumented immigrants?

The Hidden Faces of Undocumented Immigrants

In the New York Times article written by Miriam Jordan, it discusses how “nearly half of those who are in the country unlawfully actually entered with permission.

” In the case of coming to the United States to study, tour, attend conferences, etc. is allowed and legal but when visas expire that’s when there is trouble; illegal status is often associated with migrants showing up at the border. (Jordan, 2019). ‘Build the wall’ is a common phrase that many have heard in recent years. To stop illegal immigrants from coming into the United States; a simple wall could do the trick, but not actually.

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From this same article, you can conclude that nearly half of the undocumented immigrants did not cross borders on foot or trek through the desert to arrive here, instead, they flew with their visas, passed inspection at the airport and simply stayed. (Jordan, 2019). America is a melting pot and an equal opportunity country that being said it welcomes all (not to mention America was founded on immigration of early European migrants).

While trying to find information in the New York Times that related to the topic of immigration I stumbled upon an article titled “Border Patrol Agent Who Hit Migrant With Truck is Sentenced to Probation” written by Ford Burkhart and Mihir Zaveri.

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Automatically this was shocking to read. According to the article, a former border patrol agent hit a fleeing Guatemalan migrant with his truck in 2017, he referred to immigrants two weeks before the tragedy as “subhuman and “mindless murdering savages”(Burkhart, Zaveri, 2019.) The border patrol agent known as Mr. Bowen was facing up to one year and a one-hundred thousand dollar fine, but the judge, Thomas Ferraro of the United States District Court in Tucson imposed a sentence of thirty-six months of probation and one hundred fifty community service hours alongside with paying for the migrants medical costs. Already the lack of justice is horrifying. It questions exactly how illegal immigrants are being treated and the lack of exposure that gets shown on media. Burkart and Zaveri say, “Judge Ferraro said the encounter had occurred during a period of “turmoil” on the border and that it was “only one incident” in Mr. Bowen’s eleven-year career with the Border Patrol.” But what exactly does that mean? One incident is one too many. Who can say a tragic event such as this will not occur again. The case was not over yet; it gave a rise of outrage after racist and derogatory messages were exchanged between Mr. Bowen and the other Border Patrol agents. Such messages displayed Mr. Bowen’s thoughts toward immigrants, his political beliefs and his job dissatisfaction. (Burkart, Zaveri, 2019.) In my opinion, hate was the main cause of the incident. The other case which contradicts this one is of a volunteer in a humanitarian aid group that was charged with illegally harboring two migrants, giving them shelter, food, and water. “The Trump administration has recently targeted several private citizens who provided compassionate help to migrants” (Burkart, Zaveri, 2019.) By focusing on the first case of neglect, the article fails to explain more about the humanitarian group and what exactly the issue in court was.

“Why I Quit My Job Carrying Out Trump’s Immigration Policies” is an article written by Doug Stephens who is a lawyer. Stephen’s worked as an asylum officer which is a person who helps those seeking asylum in the United States. “Two days and five interviews resulted in sending asylum seekers back to danger had shocked him,” said Stephen. In his video interview in the New York Times, he mentioned that he believed the work he was given to do was illegal and immoral and had ultimately decided to quit. The administration was trying to destroy the asylum program, and even though it did not directly affect him, by him leaving it would protest the administration. This article is mainly directed toward Mexican migrants and displays how they had to prove they were in danger in more difficult ways in order to be allowed to be a refugee. Stories he had heard from other asylum officers detailing people being raped by the police in Mexico was not enough, they were told to explain why they couldn’t move somewhere else in their own country. This issue is in congresses’ abilities and it states who we are as Americans; we can continue to shut our door on people in need, or we can embrace the idea of America and help as said in the interview. The passage at the end of the interview wrote, “federal judges have ruled against Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy, but it is allowed to remain in effect while the administration appeals. The Ninths Circuit court is expected to rule on the appeal by the end of the year.” Without getting into the political issues, I can wholeheartedly say that I agree with the reasoning behind appealing the administration. From an ethical perspective, I can conclude that it is not moral. If a citizen in another country is not safe they should be allowed to seek refuge, they should not be turned down and sent back if the danger they are in is legitimate.

Injustice Towards Immigrants

A similar article relating a death I found was one of a 16-year-old Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez titled “Migrant Teen Lay for Hours in His Cell Before He Was Found Dead” written by Caitlin Dickerson. This was a matter of the boy being left in his cell for four hours when he was ill and the Customs and Border Protection officials ignoring the nurse practitioners’ advice. What was released in the media states that “he was discovered by federal agents during a welfare check but a video recording shows that his death was flagged by his cellmate” (Dickerson, 2019). The issue of migrant care in federal custody has greatly improved but this past year more children under legal age have passed away in custody. The question remains on just how those trying to enter the United States are being treated and why the rise in deaths has occurred. The disturbing video that was shown with the article shows discrepancies in the time frames and who found his body. It was not an agent who found Mr. Vasquez, it was his cellmate and the video shows that but why would they deny to tell the truth to the media? Two more accounts od deaths due to ill- proper treatment are documented; Felipe Gomez Alonzo, an eight-year-old who was taken to the hospital for his fever, discharged and then passed away and Jakelin Caal Maquin a seven-year-old who had passed. “The Coast Guard and federal Public Health Service sent temporary medical help to border facilities in response,” said Dickerson. Although the author inserted the above quote which shows possible improvement, I am not persuaded much will change with immigrant care. If a system that allows insufficient truths to be given to the media, I don’t see how the actual truth will be exposed. In order to get something done, light has to be shown on the topic and if the information readers see is falsifying, then, it can be hard to show compassion and realize that a solution for this injustice needs to come to an end. The ending of this article states “the department closed its inquiry after it established there had been no foul play, he said the four-hour gap in the video was not explained by Customs and Border Protection officials.” Joel Rivera, police chief stated. “What we’ve released is what we’ve got,” he said. This specific conclusion which Dickerson put in her article and the abrupt end to the story accompanies what is happening at the border and detention places. An incident happens, inadequate information is released and not much changes. Additional information about the seven-year-old girl who passed away was found in the article, “Migrant Girl’s Horrific, Tragic Death Is Not Its Responsibility, White House Says,” written by Ron Nixon. “Her death, which is under investigation, has been widely condemned as a consequence of the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration enforcement efforts,” says Nixon. When asked if the administration would take any responsibility they responded with “does the administration take responsibility for a parent taking a child on a trek through Mexico to get to this country?” Mr. Gidley responded. “No.” (Nixon, 2019). Death under the watch of anybody should be their responsibility although there could have been two sides to this story in which it was not anyone’s fault, I still maintain that it raises the issue of the administration and migrant care. On the other hand, this incident and others occur due to migrants fleeing from dangerous living conditions to seek refugee but with the administration in place, it is hard to allow anyone nowadays seeking asylum.

“They literally made Americ great. Don’t let anyone destroy that legacy for a poisoned dream of purity,” is a direct quote from Dr. Brooke Harrington who wrote, “I Almost Lost My Career Because I had the Wrong Passport.” This story is a bit different as it follows a professor with the best selling novel who was declared having committed a crime because they were an immigrant from a non- European Union country. Although the author is writing from Denmark and not the United States she discusses the Trump administration. The Danish party wanted to return Denmark to an “imaginary past of racial and ethnic “purity,” said Harrington. Then she followed by saying, “this is more or less what Mr. Trump’s immigration policy wants for the United States.” It is one thing to keep people out but immigrants are what this country was made of. Harrington wrote, “immigrants helped Americans win WWII and put Americans on the moon; immigrants built the global tech dominance and enabled the United States to win more Nobel Prizes than any other country.” This interpretation challenges the ideas of what people think of immigrants, there are good and bad people in the world and most are just trying to seek a better life. Denying one of a better life is unlawful and unjust.

From my own knowledge and due to the vast power of information from the internet, I can conclude that what is happening at our borders needs to come to an end. Numerous stories about children who were born in the United States are being torn away from their parents and family members and being forced into shelters. They are alone and scared not to mention their parents are being kept at facilities and eventually sent back to their countries. This is an immoral issue that is wrong in many ways. Once again, while these stories can be found in the news, the are scattered and blame is put on the immigrants therefore, many people do not have remorse nor fully understand what this is like. We live in a society where it is easier to sit behind a screen and follow the news but taking action in order to stop the negative stories is a difficult concept. Without people voicing their opinion, it isn’t likely to change anything. But who really cares? As citizens, this doesn’t really apply to us, or does it? These people can be your friends, neighbors, coworkers, bosses. They are normal hard-working people who have been in the United States and are now being forced to a country they escaped from or left due to work/ school. These people can be some of the greatest citizens this country has had but don’t get a chance to because of harsh immigration laws. Close family friends of my parents were born outside of the United States, they came from Romania in order to study on visas and then decided to stay here to give their children the best life possible. They are one of the hardest working people I know and I have had the chance to grow up with their daughter, who is one of my closest friends. For my anthropology class last semester I did a qualitative ethnography about the americanization of immigrants and while interviewing the family I found the struggles they faced when coming here. At the end of the day, both her parents are professors with doctorates at Duquesne University. The life they live is a dream come true and I believe everyone should be given such an opportunity.

Updated: Jan 24, 2024
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The Complex Realities of Immigration. (2024, Jan 24). Retrieved from

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