They’re coming to America

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By Brandon Pettey
Guest Columnist 

One of my favorite parts of being a student is the ability to meet people from different places and different backgrounds.

As a student, I have had the opportunity to meet people from around the globe. My fellow classmates make college interesting by challenging what I know about the world.  Our diversity is an essential aspect of the American experience that I, for one, could not live without.

The diversity that makes our culture so special, however, is currently being cast in a somewhat negative light. Recently, President Trump attempted to ban immigration from seven Muslim countries. A poll conducted by Reuters showed 48 percent of respondents actually supported the ban. And, Muslims are not the only minority group being marginalized.

The Pew Research Center published a study that said 52 percent of Hispanics have experienced discrimination based on their ethnicity. The pressure that they have been feeling is wrong and unwarranted. Immigrants are not all that different from native-born Americans. They have dreams and goals. Somehow it has become more acceptable to speak out publicly against people who come to this country as immigrants.

On Feb.16, these newcomers, and those who support them, showed their frustration by participating in a protest called “A Day Without Immigrants.” Many of them showed their encouragement to the cause by closing their businesses and refusing to spend money on that day. A total of 50 restaurants were closed in Washington D.C alone, including six in the Pentagon. Since this country’s inception, immigrants have been coming to American with hopes of making their lives better.

Despite our financial troubles in recent years and the participation in two wars, we are still the land of the free and the home of the brave. America is the table of cool kids in the global lunch room. The vast majority of people who come here don’t want to do anything to lose their coveted seat. Starting life anew in a different country is a risky and expensive proposition.

It is expensive just to move from one state to another, moving to another country is even higher. It costs $700 just to apply for United States citizenship. That may not sound like a lot to some of us, but for people in impoverished countries, it is a massive amount of money.

Then there are the costs of picking up roots and moving. Some individuals save for years in order to be able to move to America. Once someone is finally here, they have too much at stake to risk doing anything that would get them in trouble.

Most people come to the country to improve their financial status, to escape hostile governments and to live the American dream, which we all strive for.  Immigrants have played a vital role in our history. We all too often forget that our Founding Fathers and their families were immigrants. There would be no United States without immigration.

Furthermore, many people who came here from other countries are responsible for things that we hold dear. The 2003 National Survey of College Graduates says that immigrants obtain patents at twice the rate of native-born Americans. The World Intellectual Property Organization reported that America takes in 57.1 percent of the worlds inventor population.

Without immigrants like Luther George Simjian, who was originally born in Turkey, we would not have the ATM.  I’m glad he came over because if I had to wait in line at the bank every time I needed cash, my head would explode. Thank you Mr. Simiian for preventing my head from exploding.

So the next time you meet someone who is new to this country, I implore you to welcome them with open arms. Remember how similar they are to you or me and that immigration built this country. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s the American thing to do.