The myth about America pertains to the thorny issue of immigration. While Emma Lazarus‘s immortal poem, The New Colossus has greeted new American immigrants along with The Statue Of Liberty for generations, the immigrant experience has never been an easy one.
In 2018, the complications have become magnified, thanks to you know who.
Last month, college student Mollie Tibbetts went missing. This week, her body was found. Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who authorities have identified as an illegal immigrant originally from Mexico was accused of her murder.
My heart breaks for those who knew her and loved her. May her memory be a blessing.
It didn’t take long for certain political factions in this country to use this girl’s murder as a reason to paint all illegal immigrants with broad brush. Most, if not all immigrants, regardless of their status, did not come to America to become criminals. They came to this country for the freedoms and opportunities that for many immigrants are not available in the countries of their birth.
This case also bring to light two scourges on our global cultural landscape: sexism and racism. Some of the news reports stated that Mr. Rivera approached Miss Tibbetts. When she rebuffed him, he didn’t understand that no means no. Racism comes into the picture because this case amplifies the myth that all men of color are predators when it comes to white women. Therefore, white woman need to be protected by white men from the men of color who might have less than honorable or harmless intentions.
The other news story that brings into light the shades of grey when it comes to immigration is the case of Jakiw Palij.
In 1949, he came to America, claiming to be a farmhand and factory worker. Since then, he has lived in Queens, New York. According to news reports, Mr. Palij was actually a Nazi labor camp guard at Trawniki concentration camp and lied on his immigration paperwork. He is being deported back to Germany.
While I understand that he is 95 years old, justice must be served. From my perspective, when an immigrant is deported, the government must have a solid reason to send him or her back to their country of origin. In this case, I cannot disagree with his deportation. While it would be impossible in 2018 to prosecute every member of the Nazi party who stood by while their Jewish friends and neighbors were being murdered, the prosecution of Mr. Palij must proceed. The message must be heard loudly and clearly: those who had a hand in murdering Jews and other minorities during World War II will be judged and prosecuted for their actions.
Despite the promise of America, immigration will never be a black and white issue. It is my opinion that unfortunately, it’s taken Americans over 200 years to realize that fact.