Here’s your reminder that demonizing immigrants is actually anti-American


OPINION: Touré writes about the need for the United States to welcome undocumented immigrants – not avoid them.

Every few months it seems a new group of immigrants arrive from a different country, be it Haiti, Cuba, Afghanistan, Mexico or elsewhere. Immediately they are demonized by the right as if they are coming to suck America’s teeth, grab free stuff, and generally ruin our country.

Observing the disparagement of the character of immigrants is difficult, in part because this problem is personal to me: my wife is a first generation immigrant from Lebanon whose experience has given me a clearer view of what life can be like. immigrants.

No one packs a bag and flees their home country to a place where they don’t know anyone or speak the language lightly. Thousands of people come to America because of a life-threatening emergency – often there is war or widespread economic depravity in their home countries. My wife was around 10 years old when the fighting in the Lebanese Civil War got so close to her mother’s house that she was awakened by the sound of a bomb. She saw her mother, then a nurse, caring for injured and bloody people who came to her apartment in despair. Soon after, she and her mother left for America.

It’s crazy that so many people around the world see America as a great place to start their lives over, while so many Americans see immigrants as an insidious bane in our daily existence. Studies show that most immigrants come to America in search of work or to reunite with their families; most immigrants pay taxes and are less likely to engage in criminal behavior than Native American citizens, but counterfactual myths about immigrants persist.

My wife and her mother had a hard time when they arrived in America, but they never received social assistance and quickly became taxpaying citizens and valued members of their community.

I can’t imagine how heartless it takes to see someone whose life is in ruins and in desperate need of help, only to say, “Yes, we can’t help you. Or, “You don’t have the right documents. Certainly, a large and rich nation of 330 million people can absorb a few thousand people. A look at the past few decades shows that immigrants from Cuba, Mexico, and Southeast Asia have had a powerful and valuable impact on Miami, Texas, and Southern California.

The idea that immigrants are ruining America is constantly refuted; Since the acceptance of immigrants is a deeply held American value, the demonization of immigrants is in fact anti-American.

U.S. Border Patrol officers interact with Haitian immigrants on the shore of the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas, September 20, 2021, as seen from Ciudad Acuna, Mexico. (Photo by John Moore / Getty Images)

You can’t, right now, pretend America is the greatest nation in the world and believe that it shouldn’t be home to those who need help. If we are truly the greatest nation, with that distinction comes responsibility, especially when many in need of our help can trace their problems back to us: America’s attempts to spread democracy and our imperative to being the policeman of the world have sometimes led to the destabilization or impoverishment of other nations.

It was America’s long-term occupation of the Middle Eastern countries that fueled much of the fighting and political instability that ultimately drove my wife and mother-in-law to leave. It was the long American wars in Afghanistan and Vietnam that forced thousands of people from those countries to leave. It was the American policies towards Haiti, Cuba and Central America that helped make life more difficult for the people of these nations, forcing them to leave.

We are, in many cases, complicit in the need of immigrants to flee their country of origin. If we are not honest enough to admit it; if we don’t have a heart big enough to welcome the poor; if we are not rich enough to absorb new people who want to work; if we are not human to those in need … are we really the greatest nation in the world?



Touré hosts the Toure Show and Democracyish podcasts and the Who Was Prince? podcast docuseries. He is also the author of six books.

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