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OPINION: We must rethink the immigration debate

One of the most controversial and important issues in American society is immigration. We need not look any further than the White House: President Donald Trump was elected partially due to his promises of “building a wall” to keep out “dangerous” Mexican immigrants, who he claimed were violent. This rhetoric is used to distract from the real issues. Our country should spend more time focusing on how to treat all Americans equally before focusing concern on illegal immigrants. For many people, anti-immigration ideas can be traced to the popular yet prejudiced tendency to fear what is not understood. Immigrants come to this country with their own language, customs and beliefs. These practices are foreign for Americans, and unfortunately many Americans are inclined to take this as a threat, rather than take the time to understand what these immigrants do. The stark reality facing many immigrants is the necessity  of changing their ways to assimilate into American culture. Sometimes that is not enough. 

College athletes, for example, have many teammates from other countries who, like other immigrants, have a chance to better their lives thanks to an opportunity in America. Students and players all face difficulties personally but those who are immigrants from different countries do not have immediate familial support. 

The dream to be independent and financially successful while taking care of family and loved ones is not just specific to just Americans. International teammates earn an opportunity to better their lives through their talent and hard work.  They receive an education in return for their efforts, which will carry them further in their lives. The sports industry sees the value in immigrants; it’s time for all industries too as well.

Immigrants generally come to America to improve their lives. Often, they have to settle for menial labor jobs that no one wants. If an immigrant has entered this country illegally, he or she may be paid “under the table.” Undocumented workers do not pay taxes, and this is cited as a major issue with immigration. This issue exacerbates animosity towards immigrants: citizens’ tax dollars are being spent on the education, welfare and health care of illegal immigrants, who are not contributing to the tax funds on national, state or local levels. 

Illegal immigration may be a problem, but it shouldn’t taint immigration as a whole. We are a nation of immigration — a melting pot. Everyone in this country is an immigrant, excluding Native Americans. We share one nation, and that nation needs to rework legal immigration. Immigrants just want a better life, and who are we to deny that?

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