Green (Card) Means Go

As a national discussion, the topic of immigration has spread through our country’s politics as well as the halls of GS.

   A current battle on the United States border is raging, and there doesn’t appear to be a happy ending in site.

   Immigration is a long and hard process that, according to the United Nations’ migration report, affected 258 million people in 2017. There have always been people emigrating to other countries, but most of the public eye in America has been turned to the Mexican/American border where a large group of immigrants is attempting to cross into America without the proper papers. They’re a part of the migrant caravan. Many people have emigrated to America before the migrant caravan, two of which are senior Asher Joy’s parents.

   “My mom came first in 1989, and my dad in 2000,” Joy said.

   They were granted citizenship in 2011 and went through a long process to get the privilege of being an American citizen. They had to learn about American history and culture and pass a test to be accepted into the country.

   “They already knew how to read and write, so that stuff was easy,” Joy said. “They just had to learn about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, that kind of stuff. [There were other things like] who’s the Senator. There was a test they had to take, I helped them study a little.”

   Despite a cultural climate that isn’t always welcoming to people from other countries, Joy said that her family hasn’t really experienced much discrimination.

   “I know some person where my dad was working didn’t want my dad to serve him because he was not from America,” she said. “Other than that, not really.”

Ellis Island in New York is now used as a museum showing what the immigration process used to be like. Photo by: Delaney Bortz

   While there are legal immigrants to the country, people are attempting to cross the borders into America illegally. While it might be hard to gain citizenship into the United States, not everyone agrees that the regulations to be able to enter the country should be lessened

   “Personally, I feel like my parents had to go through a lot to become citizens and whatnot, and I feel like it shouldn’t be easy to just walk across the border and become a citizen,” Joy said. “I think it has to be fair. At the same time, I don’t think it should be that strict. I know [the people on the Mexican/American border] were living in poverty, and they wanted better lives, so it should be easier for them to gain citizenship.”

   The immigrants on the border who are attempting to enter America have gone through their fair share of tribulations.

   “I don’t really know [much about immigration], but I have heard of the migrant caravan,” junior Lien Ferry said. “There are a bunch of immigrants, and I heard some stories about how they’re treated really harshly, which I don’t agree with.”
   The migrant caravan currently at the border is a large group of people who have traveled more than 2,000 miles from Honduras to reach the Mexican/American border. The migrant caravan may have traveled a long way to reach the border, but there is a lot of controversy on whether they should be let into the United States or not. One opinion is that they should have to return to Honduras and reenter the country the legal way, which can take years.

   “I do believe that [immigration is] a good thing, but it should be done correctly,” sophomore Adam Nichols said. “My ancestors were Italians [and] they came through Ellis Island. They did it the right way. I would like all the current immigrants that come over to do it the right way as well. I don’t want any people coming in illegally.”

   While Ellis Island hasn’t been used for immigration in 60 years, there are ways that people can enter the country with a green card. A green card is a permit allowing people from foreign countries to live and work in the U.S. permanently. The four fastest ways to apply for a green card are to have family already living in the U.S., have a job willing to sponsor you for a work visa and green card, be a refugee or someone seeking asylum in the U.S., or enter the visa lottery for a green card. While these ways can eventually lead to a green card, it can still be hard to obtain one due to America’s immigration policies.

   “I think the U.S. should have policies that help immigration, but at the same time aren’t too lenient,” Joy said. “I think that’s important as well.”
   The fact that it can be hard to obtain a green card is part of the reason so many people enter the country illegally. According to the Pew Research Center, there were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2016. While that is a big number, it’s only about 3.3% of the U.S.’s total population for that year. The migrant caravan has approximately 8,500 people attempting to enter the U.S. illegally. The conflict isn’t just with the United States. As they’ve moved from Honduras to the Mexican/American border, they crossed through Guatemala, which is the country between Honduras and Mexico. The Mexican authorities claimed that as they passed from Guatemala to Mexico, they attacked their agents with rocks, glass and fireworks. U.S. President Donald Trump addressed the issue in Mexico at a press conference at the beginning of November 2018.

   “They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back,” Trump said. “I told them to consider it a rifle. When they throw rocks like what they did to the Mexican military and police, I say consider it a rifle.”

Senior Asher Joy’s mother (in green) when she moved to New York after immigrating. Photo courtesy: Asher Joy

   There were also stones thrown at three border patrol agents on the Mexican/American border, which led to the use of tear gas on the caravan.

   “They were being provoked by [an] aggressive force from the other side, there’s not much they can do, really,” Nichols said. “If you’re getting rocks thrown at you, people can get pretty injured from that. I don’t want to use aggressive force as in guns, because that could kill people and I don’t wish that upon anyone, [but] I don’t know if [using tear gas] was the [nicest] thing to do.”

   When the people attempting to enter America try to cross the border illegally, they are actually committing a crime, even if they’re seeking asylum, and can be subjected to criminal prosecution. If a family is being prosecuted, the children cannot be held in jail, and are given to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and wait for the opportunity to live with a relative or sponsor inside the country. This has resulted in the separation of approximately 2,000 children from their families according to the Department of Homeland Security. Many children were traveling with their families and only wanted to be safe and live in nicer conditions, but are still being punished for leaving their home country.

   “You really just shouldn’t come in illegally,” Nichols said. “That’s the wrong thing to do. If they could be sent back as a unit, that’d probably be better. You don’t want to be cruel to people, wish bad things on other people, but they keep coming towards our border because we do have it well here in America. I wish we could help their own country so they could make their own country prosper. Then they wouldn’t have to come over illegally and face all these difficulties.”

   As the border crisis continues, tensions on immigration become more of a problem. The issue with immigration has continually been a dividing factor in the U.S., whether it’s between settlers and natives in the 1500s or conflicts that are affecting people in the modern world. With the United States population being 19% immigrants, the people affected by these issues don’t just live near the border.

   “Just talk about [immigration] more,” Ferry said. “It’s not something you talk about at dinner with your family, but it should be talked about more often, especially since it affects so many people.”

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