Xenophobia behind stricter immigration regulations

There is a rising fear among Americans: a fear of their neighbors to the south coming into their country and taking what Americans believe to be rightfully theirs.

It seems as though many Americans not only fear thievery, but also fear an invasion of the unknown 8212; a fear which seems to have come with every major immigrant movement in our history.

Even so, Americans never seem to want to put an end to the old adage about America being a “giant melting pot.” In order to validate this expression, we must be willing to continue opening our arms and our hearts to those from other countries who are often less fortunate than we are.

Just as it is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty 8212; “Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” ­8212; we as Americans must be open and willing to accept and to help those who come to America for a new life.

During periods of increased immigration throughout America’s history, many citizens of our country have expressed widespread hatred and xenophobia towards these people.

For example, during the potato famine in Ireland, many Irish immigrants came and the country was gripped with an intense fear and hatred toward these individuals.

Just as there were rules and laws barring the hiring of Irish laborers and immigrants in the 1800s, we now have laws against hiring those without specific permits to work. The problem with this permit-based, legal way of entry into the United States is that it takes many years to legally immigrate on anything less than a work visa 8212; which is fairly difficult to get by itself 8212; and after going through the proper channels, it can take upwards of 20 years to become a citizen.

The logical question that should be asked here is why anyone would rather immigrate legally and go through years and years of hardship and bureaucracy, when they can come illegally and make a better life for themselves.

It seems that xenophobia drives Americans’ push for stricter immigration laws and regulations. One modern example would be Arizona governor Jan Brewer’s comments made in June equating illegal immigration with the potential spreading of beheadings and criminal behavior. These comments are similar, in many ways, to the virulent anti-Irish sentiment expressed during the late 1800s and early 1900s and they have had a dangerous effect on our society.

While many still identify America as a “giant melting pot” in which all cultures and ethnicities are welcomed, accepted and 8212; in many cases ­8212; absorbed into our own culture, given the current circumstances, a more appropriate adage may be a “giant salad bowl.” Though all are eventually, begrudgingly allowed, they never truly seem to mix.

KC Aransen is a sophomore psychology major from Arlington.