The United States of America was founded by immigrants wanting a better life for themselves and their posterity, as stated in the preamble of the United States Constitution.
Our Founding Fathers hoped everyone coming into this country would have these three unalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists,” said Franklin D. Roosevelt.
We at Scroll believe immigrants should not be treated with disrespect and made to feel inferior by others, regardless of how and why they are in the country.
On Feb. 26, two Indian immigrants were killed after a gunman entered a bar and yelled, “Get out of my country,” before shooting them, according to Public Radio International.
In 2015, there were 5,818 reports of hate crimes in the United States, according to the FBI uniform crime report. Around 60 percent of victims of hate crimes were targeted because of the offenders’ bias against race, ethnicity, ancestry, and around 20 percent were victimized because of bias against religion.
“Unless we start treating fellow Americans and fellow human beings as we would want to be treated ourselves, America will cease to be great,” said Hussam Ayloush, a contributor to The Huffington Post. “America’s very greatness lies in its diversity; the equality of all its citizens before the law; and its commitment to advancing liberty, justice and dignity for all people.”
It is not our right to judge those who immigrate to this country; that is the role of the lawmakers. There is a law which establishes who has the right to stay in this country and who does not.
Even if you don’t believe immigrants should be in this country, it is not your role as a citizen or as a member of this society to belittle them, but it is your role to unite this nation.
Although the term alien is used to refer to immigrants, it does not give us the right to treat them as if they don’t belong. They are our neighbors, childhood friends, classmates, teachers, and people we interact with every day.
People who immigrated from places such as Ireland, Japan, Mexico and recently, countries from the Middle East, have been mistreated and disrespected during different points in American history.
In the 1800s, Irish immigrants were treated unfairly because too many were immigrating to the country and because of their religious beliefs.
During World War II, Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans were placed in internment camps because of their ancestry.
Mexican immigrants have been mistreated and judged based on the stereotypes some have created; one example would be they are involved with some type of drug cartel and are all illegal.
Now Muslims who are trying to immigrate to this country to seek refuge have had to face backlash, racism and judgment.
Since the birth of this nation, people have been coming from all over the world to this country with the hope that they may be able to live the American dream.
James Truslow Adams, in his book, The Epic of America, wrote that the American dream is “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”
Many immigrants have contributed a lot to this nation, such as Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who fled the Soviet Union as a boy almost 40 years ago; Yahoo’s co-founder, Jerry Yang, who was an immigrant from Taiwan at the age of 10; and the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, who immigrated from India.
In Erie, Pennsylvania, 18 percent of the population is composed of refugees.
“Refugees from Africa, Asia and the Middle East have filled apartment complexes, opened small business and frequented parks that locals have abandoned,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “Now, landlords, store owners and employers are worried that progress will stall if the U.S. shuts its doors to refugees, or their numbers dwindle.”
Our definition of an immigrant should not be color, culture, religion or country coded, but rather it should be based on the content of the character of the individual.
When we look back in our history books, we see how people in this country treated immigrants such as the Irish in the 1800s, and the Japanese in the 1940s. What will the history books say about how our generation treated immigrants? Will this generation repeat history?
We have the opportunity to change the pattern of how America has treated immigrants.
Just like it says in the Broadway musical, Hamilton: “History has its eyes on you,” and it is now up to us how our chapter in the history books is written.