The Student News Site of Northern Michigan University

The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

Meet the Staff
Amelia Kashian
Amelia Kashian
Features Editor

Being passionate is one of the best parts of being human, and I am glad that writing has helped me recognize that. I have been writing stories since I was a little girl, and over...

The North Wind Editorial Sessions
About us

The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Photo courtesy of NMU Athletics
Women’s spring soccer comes to an end this weekend
Lily GouinApril 19, 2024

Column: Immigrants forgotten in talks on reform

Immigration has become an issue of gigantic proportions. The flood of people entering the United States illegally is growing, with no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Over one million people are legally admitted to the states every year, according to the Census Bureau, with millions more coming in under the radar.

When immigrants are discussed in a political forum, they take on mythic qualities and become more like objects than people. In all cases of discrimination, there is a process of dehumanization which makes it easier for people to hate and deride those from other countries. It’s a lot easier to hurt a ‘wetback’ rather than a Salvadoran refugee or Guatemalan worker.

We should treat immigrants like human beings, not objects. They are not animals, they are people, and it’s high time we started trying to understand them rather than rounding them up like cattle. What we seem to forget is that we are all immigrants, with the notable exception of the American Indian population. Germans are no better than Mexicans, simply because they immigrated in mass numbers a few decades ago.

The history of America bears out a cycle of violence and acceptance toward those not naturally born in the states. The Irish were denied jobs. The Chinese worked through inhuman conditions to build railways. Japanese citizens were placed in internment camps during World War II as if their citizenship meant less than any other. However, these groups have almost seamlessly blended into the melting pot of American society, most likely because of the recent animosity toward Mexican and Latin American immigrants.

Story continues below advertisement

However, flight to the United States has become almost a necessity for supporting a family south of the states. According to national statistics, a huge portion of the El Salvador economy is made up of money sent back home by those who emigrated to the United States. Political situations in these countries are often so volatile that normal citizens are caught in the crossfire.

One story by Mario Bencastro, a Salvadoran novelist, tells of a woman who was married to an Army officer. She was threatened by the Army not to help political rebels upon pain of death, and also threatened at gunpoint by the rebels to help them or die. Caught between a rock and a hard place? We don’t even know the half of it.

These immigrants are often poverty-stricken people with no options in their home countries. Money problems can be hard enough to deal with, even without the political considerations thrown into the mix. Opportunities are scarce in these countries; as screwed up as our country can sometimes appear to us, it is still viewed as the land of opportunity by most of the world.

People are divided on this controversial issue as much as any other. Views range from advocating open borders to building an impenetrable fence over the whole of the Mexico/United States border. In response to the question “How do you feel about illegal immigration?,” students exhibited a surprising range of answers. One media production student recommended the use of rubber bullets, shooting everyone coming across the border. Decreasing the red tape associated with immigrating along with more restrictions for employers looking to hire illegal immigrants for cheap labor was another student’s idea for change.

Legal immigration is beyond difficult for most people looking to change their country of residence. The Immigration and Naturalization Service’s Web site is so confusing I couldn’t even figure out what I should do to become a citizen, and English is my first language. Restrictions on immigrants are so tight most choose to illegally come into the country because they either don’t have money for the citizenship fee, can’t read the forms or can’t fulfill any of the other multitude of requirements for legal immigration. Even when some illegals are scheduled for trial, they can still be sent home. But once they’re sent away, how can the government ensure finding one illegal immigrant among the mass of undocumented workers?

Candidates for president have wildly different ideas about what should be done about the immigration problem, but one thing is for certain – these workers are not going away, and our economy is dependent on the scores of undocumented workers that keep our infrastructure moving. What is done about the illegal immigrant population could well determine the direction our country moves in the years to come.

Let’s reduce the red tape and focus more on dealing with the people here than trying to keep the others out.

More to Discover