Friday, September 17, 2021

Independence Day brings a new reality for immigrants

United States Navy sailor, Oscar Hernandez (R), who was born in Colombia, poses for a photograph with his citizenship certificate during a naturalization ceremony for foreign-born US military personnel and their spouses in San Diego, California, USA, 03 July 2017. Fifty-five people became US citizens during the ceremony on the flight deck of the USS Midway aircraft carrier, which has been converted into a museum in the San Diego Bay. EFE

Chicago, Jul 3 (EFE).- More than 15,000 foreigners will become US citizens on Tuesday, July 4, a day on which Americans are called upon to reflect on the contribution immigrants have made to the nation at a time when anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy formulation by the Donald Trump administration is growing.

Since the original July 4 – in 1776 – the US has become home to millions of immigrants who arrived here seeking the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” established by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence.

In that document, its signers accused Great Britain of blocking the laws allowing foreigners to become naturalized citizens and refusing to approve others that would encourage more immigration in the future.

Currently, Congress is passing laws to prevent the arrival of immigrants and the White House has adopted an anti-immigrant tone in its discussion of immigrants and is planning to build a wall along the border with Mexico to halt illegal migration.

The president last week publicly supported bills passed by the House of Representatives increasing the prison terms for undocumented migrants and withholding federal funds from so-called “sanctuary cities” that protect them.

United States Navy officer, Chris Smith, and his daughter, Nicole Smith, 2, wave to his wife, who was born in Kyrgyzstan, during a naturalization ceremony for foreign-born US military personnel and their spouses in San Diego, California, USA, 03 July 2017. Fifty-five people became US citizens during the ceremony on the flight deck of the USS Midway aircraft carrier, which has been converted into a museum in the San Diego Bay. EFE

Since announcing his presidential run in mid-2015, Trump has made the immigration issue one of the pillars of his incendiary rhetoric, a choice that – activists say – has contributed to the increase in hate crimes in this country.

Oscar Chacon, the executive director of Alianza Americas, says that Trump’s “ultra-nationalism” on the immigration issue is worrying due to his policies aimed at deporting millions of undocumented migrants, prohibiting the entry of refugees and Muslims and erecting a wall along the southern border.

Because the US is a nation of immigrants, it is our “patriotic duty to embrace love instead of hate” and find ways to build together, he told EFE, adding that respecting our differences is a “fundamental principle of a healthy society.”

Frank Sharry, the executive director of the America’s Voice group, says that this “radicalization” by Trump is something “unprecedented” in modern times.

Sharry contended in a statement that Trump sees immigrants as criminals and a threat, and his administration treats them in a “cruel and chaotic” manner.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says that the anti-immigrant rhetoric heard these days in the US, and in the White House, must not hinder people from recognizing the “valuable contributions” immigrants have made to the country.

Currently, immigrants constitute 13.5 percent of the US population, or about 32 million people with legal status and 11 million undocumented foreigners, with statistics showing that Mexico is no longer the homeland of most of the latter group.