Like the Op-ed assignment, writing a speech like this was a first for me. So naturally, because of this, I was somewhat scared. However, I found this to be not as hard as I thought it would have been. I began writing this piece and I found that I could fill it with so many points from my own ideas. I could connect my points to other things that I have learned and I had total control over what I was writing. But that being said, I still had my concerns.
The first of these concerns was regarding my sources and points. I felt that I need to improve how I incorporate sources and use external information. After writing this piece, I still feel that this is the case. However, I feel that I only still feel this because I did not use a lot of sources in this piece. I think that I should have used them more, but this will have to be something I work harder on in the next writing assignment. I think my main use for these points in this piece was stating where my facts came from, and everything else in this piece is my own argument and writing.
Another concern I had about this piece was that I felt that my introduction was so long and I did not have enough of a body to my piece. Upon reading this to my small group, I received feedback about this concern. My peers said that the introduction was not as long as I had thought it was, and it helps to give a lot of context to my argument and helps to back up what I am saying.
When I began writing this piece, I think my argument was very different than what it ended up as. The point I am trying to get across through this writing is that America has always given its new immigrants a very harsh welcome and made them feel anything but. In the current political climate, the current president has created a society where hate and xenophobia have become a mainstream and this organized and government-ordered immigrant persecution has been allowed to commence. This has never happened before, and I think that it will go down as a very landmark period in our history and especially in the history of immigrants in this country.
Immigrants against Immigrants
Growing up in The United States of America means hearing over and over that this is a country that was built by immigrants. Our American culture has its own values, but it also celebrates the diversity of the nation and every culture she contains. Throughout the country’s history, there have been many waves of immigrants coming to the country. The shores of this country have welcomed Germans, Irish, Italians, and others from the early 1800s into the 1940s. The 1950s onward brought the Koreans, Vietnamese, and now, most recently, immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, and other South and Central american countries.
These waves of immigrants may have been welcomed by the country in a geographical sense, but in no way were these immigrants made welcome by those residing in the States prior. Each wave of immigration has seen xenophobia, racism, and hate. Italian immigrants were once treated horribly, kept at the bottom of society, and almost always only referred to by “guido”. The Irish faced the same struggles, being forced into low level jobs, being on the bottom of society, and being given the stereotype of being brutish, pugilant, and dim-witted drunks. The immigrants who faced some of the harshest racism and hate is arguably the Koreans. The aggression they faced erupted into race wars that tore the city of Los Angeles apart for days.
However, the modern treatment of immigrants from South and Central American countries is unprecedented. In the past, acts of xenophobia and racism have been in the hands of the citizenry. Today, these immigrants face government-ordered detention and are subject to awful conditions, simply for the crime of wanting a better life.
The United States of America has always been idolized as “The Land Of Opportunity” and since the birth of the nation, immigrants have always flocked to it. However, like I have stated, immigrants have always had an abrasive reception when they arrive. What is happening now has not happened before. The government is detaining immigrants and forcing them into detention centers, where they await trial for deportation. Yes, these immigrants do come here illegally, but I feel that this crime should be forgiven. We should not punish others for bypassing a horrible system when our immigration system needs to be reformed. In addition, these people are willing to risk everything they have to cross a border and come here illegally, so why should we lock them up in a place that is worse than a prison?
In these centers, the conditions faced by the detained immigrants are awful. One of the first things that is done is splitting up children from their families, leaving young kids to face worse-than-prison conditions on their own. It is one thing to detain an immigrant family for illegally crossing a border, but I think it is an extreme injustice to separate these families and leave the family members to face these harsh conditions alone. What if it was you or your child? What if you were a child in one of these centers, subject to the will of the guards and awful conditions?
The immigrant detainees face lights that are always on, which causes them to have sleep issues (Korngold, Ochoa, Inlender, McNiel, Binder). They face frigid temperatures, causing illness, as reported by The Journal of The American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. They are subject to harassment and torment by the guards, leaving them with psychological trauma- all because they want a better life.
The conditions faced by these detainees, especially those who are children, are incredibly harmful and leave lasting effects. These children have suffered so much and develop serious depression and anxiety inside of these centers. Because of this, the government has begun medicating these children to combat the mental trauma. Making this far worse and far more unethical is the fact that the government does this without the consent of their parents or guardians and forcibly medicates these children, threatening them with continued detainment, less chance of release, or other threats, as written by Edvard Petterson in Bloomberg (Petterson).
These conditions also leave long-term effects on these detainees. Studies conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics have found that even short-term detainment can leave long-term effects. Some of the effects suffered are learning disorders, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, incontinence, night terrors, and many other psychological issues (Linton, Griffin, Shapiro). These people have suffered so much, gone through so much, and have risked their lives to escape to a better life, only to be locked away and tormented.
This country has had a long history of immigration, but it has also had a long history of civic action, as well. Throughout the country’s history, citizens of the United States have organized to create change. In the past century especially, groups of citizens have banded together to fight hard for their rights and to not be treated poorly by society or the government.
In this advanced society, why do we stand by and let our government treat people this way? Why do we stand by and let our government treat people who are not even citizens of the country or subjects of that government the way it does? The citizens of the country need to take action and demand a change, or else it will never come. The citizenry must inform themselves on the situation and make efforts to bring these horrible practices to an end.
The current government of the United States of America is treating people horribly. They are oppressing people who have risked everything to have a better and safer life. These people have gone through so much, only to be met with more torment. Xenophobia and racism are by no means new concepts, but this level of it, with government endorsement and action, is completely unprecedented. A government-built system to enact hate and cause harm while these people await a trial that will more than likely just send them back to where they came from should not be allowed or even fathomable in our modern society. The citizens of America must inform themselves and take action to end what is happening, because what if it was your child being forcibly medicated and tormented?
Korngold, C., Ochoa, K., Inlender, T., McNiel, D., & Binder, R. (2015, September 01). Mental
Health and Immigrant Detainees in the United States: Competency and Self-Representation. Retrieved from http://jaapl.org/content/43/3/277
Linton, J. M., Griffin, M., & Shapiro, A. J. (2017, May 01). Detention of Immigrant Children.
Pettersson, E. (2018, Jun 25). Immigrant children forcibly medicated while in U.S. custody, lawyers say. Bloomberg Wire Service Retrieved from http://proxy.library.vcu.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/2058580445?accountid=14780