By Mark Monroe, contributor – firstname.lastname@example.org
The American dream could be slowly turning into an American nightmare.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 39, 970 unaccompanied minors from Mexico and Central America have been detained along the Mexico-United States border in fiscal year 2015.
With tighter border regulations being discussed as part of the upcoming presidential election, it could mean more Hispanic and Central Americans losing their chance at a better life, or deporting those who think they have already found it.
Peter Haschke, assistant professor of political science, said it takes a lot for countries, including the United States, to allow immigrants or refugees into it’s territory.
“Somebody has to try and actually kill you in order for you to be able to come into our country,” Haschke said.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 8.1 million undocumented immigrants constitute 5 percent of the total U.S. labor force. There are more than 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. Of these undocumented immigrants, 5.9 million are Mexican.
In a Pew survey, 78 percent of American adults said immigrants take low-paying jobs Americans do not want.
“Our refugees are not allowed to work, they have to struggle for their integration,” Haschke said. “The number one integrator is work. Once you start to work, you have to pick up a language. If we don’t allow those individuals to work, they don’t have the incentive to integrate.”
In a 60 Minutes interview, Donald Trump said his platform includes the construction of a wall between Mexico and the United States, and the deportation of more than 11 million immigrants.
“Romney was saying the exact same thing just four years ago,” Haschke said, “and Romney was clearly not piggy-backing on Trump, if anything it is both Trump and Romney piggybacking on what the voters want.”
Jimmy Borges, a criminal justice student at AB-Tech from Leicester, said there is always a way around, under or through a wall.
In a Gallup poll, 58 percent of adults said they would vote for a candidate who viewed immigration as an important factor.
The Latino vote will comprise of over 27 million people in the 2016 election. With that increase, the topic of immigration reform becomes more important, according to the Center for American Progress.
Borges spoke about the Latino vote and its rising influence.
“In the near future, the WASP vote is going to be outnumbered,” Borges said. “Okay, maybe not outnumbered, but the Latino vote is going to have much more influence than it does now.”
Haschke said Trump and the GOP are trying the best they can to make everyone believe illegal immigrants, including children and teenagers, are a greater problem than they are.
An assignment at Erwin High School recently sparked an argument between the school and the Hispanic community.
The assignment involved civics students creating bumper stickers stating their opinions toward immigration through slogans.
Some of the designs displayed remarks expressing offensive statements geared toward the Hispanic community. These included demands like, “Go home,” “Kick out the brown” and “Send the illegals back.”
Elizabeth Ford-Ferguson, an AP politics teacher at T.C. Roberson High School, said immigration is a problem that needs addressing in schools in a more palatable way.
“To not talk about it, not discuss it, not to bring it up in the classroom is to kind of deny its existence,” Ferguson said.
Jimmy Borges’ parents both came to the United States from Mexico during the 1980s, for his mother it took two trips across the border for her to attain residency.
“The first time, when she was 14, nobody would hire her because she looked too young,” Borges said. “Then she came back when she was 19 and that was when she crossed the border floating on a tire down the river.”
Borges said both of his parents applied for their visa in 1996 and are finishing the process this year.
“The visa process takes decades,” Borges said. “Four of my family members are still in waiting and they’ve been here since my parents.”
Borges also said his mother nearly died trying to make it into the U.S. on her second trip over the border.
“My mom was shot at. After floating down the river on a tire, she crossed through farmer-owned fields,” Borges said. “Farmers were mean, so they would shoot at immigrants running through the cornfields, my mother included.”