Writing & Research: Aaron M. Weis
I’m not sure about the skeptical and perhaps cynical reader, but I vividly recall a time back in my vibrant youth were primary education included the likes of watching ‘School House Rock,” videos, part of which included that learning about how America was basically a melting pot, built upon the premises of immigration. One could very easily make the argument that we are a nation of immigrants in many different ways.
As a part of this sentiment comes the whole notion of the American dream in which individuals all over the world hope to cross over to our nation in pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, with the pursuit being the key phrase in that idiom. I can personally attest to this fact in my own personal experience. I spent roughly six months in Asia back in my early twenties, and in my time there I soon learned that English was taught at a very early age, and that most of the University students were hoping to utilize said skill-set amongst others to gain citizenship in the United States.
However, despite this fact, the United States has a very complex history in this regard, with policies oscillating between very open borders at times, and very restricted, limited, and a sort of closed off disposition at others as is currently the case.
Our long immigration history began with the Irish Immigration Wave where the general Irish populace accounted for nearly one-third of all immigrants in the states, which says a lot considering that this was at the same time that nearly five-million German souls made their journey to America.
Since that time however, we have seen the likes of the Chinese Exclusion Act, or the strict limitations that were placed in the number of immigrants allowed in the states at the beginning of WWI, a policy that was ironically repealed to welcome immigrants from Mexico during WWII to replace occupations that were left by individuals leaving for the military. That in itself does not include the very complicated history we have with Mexico in that we acquired a great deal of land from them during the Western Expansion to which we have constantly shifted our perspective about the matter since that time, moving that specific demographic back and forth over the years.
This particular history is relevant in that since 2016, the topic of immigration has been one of great importance, and controversy, with it being arguably the main issue of the Trump presidency. Over the course of the last three and a half years, we have witnessed a Presidential campaign sort of staged around this conceptualization of addressing immigration to the extent of promising the people to build a wall, one that was supposed to be funded by Mexico and that has still yet to be built, in order to address this matter.
To further drive the issue, President Donald Trump started his Presidency off with two executive orders concerning this topic, both of which were entitled, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” which essentially attempted to diminish the number of immigrants from six Muslim countries, in addition to the likes of North Korea as well as that of Venezuela.
Now the previously mentioned were so negatively viewed by the public, that leaders in the vast majority of tech companies, as well as other companies such as Starbucks, went out of their way to speak out against what they felt was a blatant injustice. But this apparent issue has been such a point of emphasis for the Trump presidency that it has sparked an outcry from the far left, including the likes of Bernie Sanders himself that calls the President out as a racist, which of course in our day and age gets attributed to fake news, which I still can’t believe is actually a thing and that 1984 is becoming more of a non-fictional survival guide as opposed to a science-fiction with each passing day; a fact that was illustrated in the colossal influx in the sales of the book following the 2016 election for this very reason.
However, once again this pressing concern has gained a tremendous amount of attention as of late, especially in its relationship to California, and more specifically Sacramento, which is not very surprising when considering how the Golden State accounts for nearly 20 percent of the immigrants coming in through Mexico.
Arguably the most noticeable event pertaining to this matter in the Sacramento as indicated by The Sacramento Bee, is the fact that a myriad of residents rallied together in opposition of what some are calling the Trump administration’s concentration camps, although that is certainly not what they are refereeing to them as. Instead, other synonymous euphemisms are being used such as that as detention camps, federal migrant shelters, and the likes.
This citywide rallying cry follows many other similar statewide challenges that have been issued in response to the Trump administration leveraging the Fort Sill military base in Oklahoma as a facility to house approximately 1,400 migrant children near the border; a matter that has sparked great controversy nationwide from both liberals and even conservatives alike.
The general consensus is that people are outraged by the fact that twenty-four individuals to date have died in said detention centers, and there has been a lot of discussion as to whether or not this particular facility can be quantified as a concentration camp, to which author Andrea Pitzer and a couple of Historians that specialize in the area certainly agree that it does. Is
So, last Tuesday, the streets of Sacramento echoed out with the cries of dozens of individuals screaming out, “Save the children,” or, “Close the camps,” as they object to the camps, demanding for these facilities to be shutdown under the premises that the people there are being treated in an egregious manner.
This current development has been one of such contention, that a recent Los Angeles Times article by Michael Hiltzik went so far as to report that is was essentially wrong of the U.S. Holocaust Museum to make a statement that Trump’s racism, or that these kinds of camps cannot be attributed to or made analogous with the likes of Nazism or the Holocaust for that matter. Similarly, a kind of war cry has issued out throughout the country from the Jewish community of, “Never again,” in making the very same comparison to the holocaust, in hopes that it will help to shut the detention centers down.
Under this same overarching umbrella related to matter of immigration, what we are seeing is the greater immigrant community in the Sacramento area subjected to being in a sort of constant state of fear or angst in response to the strategic ICE raids that have been planned to take place in various cities across the country. In fact, at the moment it is so bad, that some have developed a kind of sense of agoraphobia in that they are too afraid to even leave their homes, even though ICE or Immigrant and Customs Enforcement have yet to make any arrests yet.
This of course is in the aftermath of President Trump’s tweet last month that an operation by the ICE was imminent, and that they were preparing to deport of undocumented immigrants. With the major concerns of the Sacramento needing to be addressed being that of homelessness, immigration, and healthcare, all of which are major issues in the next Presidential campaign, it will be interesting to see how things progress in this area for the people of Sacramento, especially those immigrants impacted by them.