America has always been a land of immigrants, a land in which individuals migrate to in an effort to achieve a better life or the quintessential “American Dream”. With Native Americans comprising only about 2% of the United States population as of 2014, the majority of American citizens are not native to the land in which they were born or presently inhabit, but rather have roots elsewhere in the world and currently reside in America as a result of prior immigration. While the United States was founded by a group of British immigrants as the “land of the free” and a home for those who like them sought freedom, America’s warmth and welcoming spirit towards immigrants is dwindling as anti-immigration attitudes culminate in American politics and culture. The United States’ immigration landscape is narrowing, with President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration administration implementing policies that make immigration increasingly difficult and strenuous, supplemented by cultural outrage towards immigrants.
During the early years of his administration, President Trump has taken action to ban immigration from eight primarily Muslim countries, he has greatly reduced the number of refugee admissions and removed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which provides relief from deportation to thousands of children who illegally entered the country in their youth. Presenting himself as possessing an iron fist towards immigration, President Trump has exemplified to both the American public and the rest of the world that he no longer views the United States as a land for the immigrants, but rather a land for a select group in the native population. Reflecting on past immigration tactics, examining current policy and speculating on its appearance ten years into the future, it can reasonably and logically be concluded that immigration policies will greatly limit the number of migrants entering the country.
While President Trump’s administration will no longer be in power, the legacy he creates will be lasting and will establish a dramatic shift in how American culture views and interacts with immigrants. With American culture growing increasingly anti-immigrant as a result of changes in established communities, the catalyst of politics heightens and intensifies the culture’s longing for stiffening changes to immigration policies. In response, reflecting the will of the people, political policies will remain and become progressively more anti-immigrant, fueling the increasingly influential nativist ideals forming and establishing themselves in American culture. The reciprocal relationship between culture and politics will intensify both cultural views and political policies, claiming responsibility for the tightening of immigration policies in the United States over the next ten years.
With immigrants surging into the United States in mass waves, immigrant communities are forming that are reminiscent of their native country. A microcosm of this occurrence is present in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania in which the Latino population is experiencing great growth. As a nearby chicken plant in Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania is a large employer in the area, many of the Lebanon County Latino community have flocked to obtain work there. In an article published by the Washington Post titled, “White, and in the Minority”, the story of Heaven Engle, a young white woman working in the chicken plant, is detailed.
Being white in the United States, Heaven rarely found herself in a minority however upon her employment at the chicken plant she quickly found herself in the minority position in which she had never been. Surrounded by Latino immigrants, Heaven finds herself isolated from the rest of her coworkers as she does not speak their language and is not a part of their community. Formerly describing herself as holding no racist views towards the Latino community, Heaven, unsure of how to feel, finds herself growing increasingly hostile as she struggles to feel as if she belongs at work. This anecdote represents a widely experienced circumstance in American communities as immigrants enter in great numbers changing both the demographics of the area and the culture.
Resenting the rapid and unexpected change, the said changes create the common result of hostility towards immigrants founding a platform on which anti-immigration sentiments grow and spread. As public discourse will eventually manifest as a political discussion and likely action, the feelings of hostility created by rapid cultural change in American communities acts as the background that will narrow the judgement of American culture and drive immigration policies to an effective halt in upcoming years.
Acting as the partner in this immigration relationship, the current political climate radicalizes and polarizes American cultural views regarding immigrants by drawing often fallible links between immigrants and crime. Frequently blaming issues of immigration on the Democratic party, President Trump effectively polarizes the views of the American public as members of the Republican party come to fear and resent the supposed dangerous actions of the Democratic party as they allegedly finance illegal immigration and members of the Democratic party become heated by the rhetoric of their political opponents.
Now a threshold issue, immigration is a defining feature in the political landscape that influences party loyalty and the actions of voters. On his campaign trail, President Trump found a receptive audience in a subsection of Republican loyalists who were especially influenced by television advertisements produced by conservatives warning of the chaos that would ensue upon the creation of sanctuary cities, cities that limit their cooperation and alignment with immigration law, if a Democratic control of Congress was present. In a study conducted by the Center for American Progress surveying those who voted for President Trump in the 2016 election, it was found that many were highly concerned with the prospect of sanctuary cities.
The results indicate that many of these voter’s concerns were incorrectly grounded in the idea that sanctuary cities are lawless districts that present themselves as a danger to the rest of the country as the misleading rhetoric of politicians often portrays them in this light. With President Trump rarely failing to exploit opportunities to portray immigrants as a threat to American society, the foundation of the United States government is broadening to increasingly include anti-immigrant outlooks. With powerful, influential politicians driving a deep skepticism of migrants, American culture is persuaded to believe and harbor the hostility present in political rhetoric.
Reflecting on United States history, the observed pattern that following a large influx of immigrants into the country, public sentiment towards immigration drifts towards a negative perspective which fuels political change while the anti-immigration rhetoric of politicians in turn provides a platform for the unfavorable cultural view towards immigration is ever present. In the 1850s, the occurrence of the Irish Potato Famine, causing mass starvation in Ireland, drove thousands to immigrate to the United States in search of a better life. Resentful of the new immigrants, the “Know-Nothing” party was founded to protest the arrival of the Irish as it was believed they remained loyal to the foreign force of the Pope, serving as the first instance of political mobilization against the entry of immigrants.
Following the large increase in Chinese immigrants entering the country in the 1800s, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was enacted to greatly limit immigration from China. Prompted by protests staged by native workers angered by the idea that the Chinese were taking jobs believed to belong to them and the increase in the pool of labor causing increasing unemployment and lowering wages, politicians placed an absolute 10 year halt on Chinese immigration. After implementation, drastic changes were experienced by the Chinese community as they were marginalized, families were torn apart and businesses were forced to shut their doors due to anti-Chinese racism, greatly decreasing the number of Chinese immigrants in the country with 105,465 residing in the United States in 1880 compared to a lesser 89,863 by 1900.
In modern day, this pattern is repeating itself once again. Currently being experienced by the United States is mass amounts of Mexican migrants entering the country both legally and illegally. With the rhetoric of President Donald Trump’s administration preaching words of anti-immigration, the great public fear towards immigrants intensifies as it is believed they threaten the American way of life. Culminating in the familiar hostility, fuel from politics has led American culture to demand anti-immigration policies once again. The crisis at the Mexico-United States border created by the government’s response to public discourse has left Mexican children torn from the arms of their parents and toxic tear gas to fill their eyes. With President Trump’s claims reaching extremes as he promises to build a wall at the border as a physical barrier to entry, the public’s need to tighten immigration policies and stop Mexican immigration is heightened.
As the strength of an economy is a critical indicator of a functional society, it can be assumed that the economic need for a wide workforce, which can often rely on immigrants, will outweigh any cultural or political attempt to limit immigration. Reflecting on the current state, an observed population decline is plaguing the global community. Not immune, the United States is experiencing a population crisis of its own in which fertility rates are declining as the culture is less inclined to have children or have the once normal larger amounts of children. As the current workforce grows into elderly age, a gap in employment is forming that the petite younger generation is unable to fill forging economic troubles.
As immigration poses as a viable solution that would allow for an accessible and somewhat immediate influx in the workforce, some nations have eagerly pursued this route including the United States and Britain. Both the United States and Britain quickly found that immigration presents only as a short term aid. With many of the immigrants entering the country already being of adult age, they too soon grow to be elderly dependents and the problem of a declining workforce recurs. While providing temporary economic relief, immigration is not a sustained solution to combat the economic challenges a declining population number presents therefore the mutual relationship between culture and politics will take precedence as critical factors in the future of immigration policy.
The once open doors of America to immigrants find themselves gradually closing. Speculating on future immigration, it can reasonably be predicted that America will no longer be the land of the immigrants that it once was. With the current fiery relationship between American culture and government, both partners contribute to the flame that radicalizes and mobilizes development. Induced by growing hostility towards the immigrant community, American culture is predisposed to persuasion from politicians.
Preying on this cultural population, President Trump employs powerful rhetoric that twists the conceptions of immigrants as their nature of longing for better is replaced with notions of destructive crime and danger. In tandem, the actions of one stimulate the actions of the other which in turn bolsters the original action. In a cyclical fashion, both culture and politics will serve as driving forces to effectively shut America’s figurative immigration doors. Paralleled by historical cases reflective of the current immigration condition, the continuation and amplification of anti-immigration policies is inevitable. The once promising home to immigrants will cease to exist as the requirements for entry will clench allowing fewer immigrants to enter.