Immigration Makes Us Strong

Priya Kukreja, Co-Editor-In-Chief

My mother never thought she would be living in America. Growing up, she couldn’t even imagine herself leaving her city, Mumbai, much less her country, India. But two years after she married my father, they decided to apply for an American work visa as computer software consultants.
In 1994, their visa was approved. Two aspiring and capable 24-year-olds found themselves in the unknown. Upon entering America, excitement overwhelmed my parents. To them, this country was big, modern, and most notably, clean.
This type of story is well-known among thousands of U.S. immigrants. Dreaming of the land of opportunity, arriving in an unknown place, and living through the culture shock—immigrants from around the world understand what it is like to leave home in search of a better life.
They also know what it is like to feel like an outsider.
My parents talk about how they were constantly conscious of their differences. At first, people messed up their orders because their accents were unfamiliar. There was always underlying resentment from others about “stealing American jobs.” Still, they stayed and continued to build their livelihood and home together. Their story lives on with a positive and successful outlook.
Other stories of immigration are not headed in that direction. On Friday, Jan. 27, President Trump signed an executive order on immigration that indefinitely barred Syrian refugees from entering the U.S., suspended all refugee admissions for 90 days, and blocked citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
The order is a dangerous, discriminatory, and impractical policy. Trump’s rationale for implementation is based on protecting the American people from terrorism. However, no immigrants from the seven banned countries have killed anyone in terrorist attacks in the U.S. (The Atlantic). The Cato Institute’s analysis concludes that Syrian refugees are not a security threat either. No recent attacks would have been prevented by this order.
We have seen this type of racial and religious profiling repeat itself throughout American history. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Asian Immigration Ban of 1917, Jewish immigration quotas during WWII—these policies are continuously driven by discriminatory impulses. They fail to recognize that America is a nation built by immigrants. Our success comes from our diversity.
Trump’s executive order confirms that the xenophobia and islamophobia in his campaign will remain rampant during his presidency. He ignites a fear of outsiders, foreigners, and the unknown. But we cannot allow our country to succumb to a policy driven by fear. Our actions must be centered on compassion and careful consideration.
As I ask my parents if they are happy with their decision to stay in the US, they are met with mixed feelings. They miss their home in India. But they recognize that they would not have thrived as they do now without immigrating. When my parents entered America, they saw the unknown as a place for opportunity. That is the ideology we should all be adopting. Those who are different from us are not scary, They are people with beauty and capability—something that will only make our country stronger.