Note: I am currently in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention. I am attending an academic seminar this week and will be doing a fieldwork placement during the convention next week. I am writing a daily journal to reflect on my experience and will post my entries here. Enjoy!
Even though we briefly covered immigration earlier, we did not get to examine the topic in-depth until today. Philippe Weisz, who is an attorney from HIAS Pennsylvania, a non-profit agency that offers legal services for immigrants, explained that immigration has been a controversial issue for decades, but there has been no federal immigration reform in a while. He also presented charts that show how notoriously high crime rates are in Central America’s Northern Triangle, which consists of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Many people in the Northern Triangle sought asylum in the United States because of how dangerous it is in their homelands.
In order to address the immigration issue, I strongly believe that the United States should also look into problems in the Northern Triangle and try to deal with them. We can pass immigration reforms and encounter the immigration issue inside our country, but in order to fix the entire problem, we need to look at the bigger picture. How can we address immigration completely without looking at its origins? There is a reason why people left their countries and if it is resolved, immigration may become less of a problem later.
Our next presenter, Jon Scott, ended up touching on immigration during his lecture about macroeconomics. Regardless of how controversial immigration may be, it can be good for our economy. Scott argued that immigrants usually do the work that Americans would not do in the first place anyway and it is shown that immigrants do not lower Americans’ wages or hurt them in general. They actually can help raise Americans’ wages. Immigrants with limited English take the lowest skilled jobs from Americans with better English skills and these Americans with enough English skills have the opportunity to move up the ladder. If it were not for these immigrants, these Americans would be stuck doing the lowest skilled jobs just because there is nobody else who can do them. However, immigrants give Americans who are qualified the opportunity to move up and earn higher wages.
Scott also mentioned how many of our start-up businesses are established by our immigrants and we clearly benefit from start-up businesses. Based on these facts, it seems like immigrants do help our country. It would not make sense to bar immigrants completely and lose opportunities that they give Americans. We cannot forget that immigrants founded the American government and they are part of our roots. Our government was established on immigrants’ values, such as working hard, so allowing immigrants with regulations only would retain these values in our country.
Aside from immigration, we also discussed polarization in the United States with Matt Levendusky, a professor from Penn State. The Republican National Convention (RNC) is taking place this week and except for Ted Cruz, a good number of prominent Republican politicians are endorsing Trump now even if they clearly dislike him. Their endorsements may seem surprising. No matter how much they might have loathed Trump, they ultimately chose him over Hillary. For the sake of not allowing Hillary become the next president, they are supporting Trump, regardless of how unqualified they probably know he is. I find this truly fascinating. It is a bit sad that the issue of polarization has gone so far that politicians now only endorse a candidate just to stop another candidate from winning without even doing minimal qualification screenings of their own candidate. In the RNC, people are so focused on bashing Hillary and chanting, “lock her up” that they have not truly looked into their own candidate.