AP English Language and Composition
13 October 2014
Tear Down This Wall
How does a country go from "Tear down this wall!" to "Build a fence to keep out all immigrants." An integral issue in today's American politics is whether or not to fence the southern border of the United States and close it to immigration. States such as Arizona have taken action regarding this issue: Arizona passed a bill stating that anyone suspected of being an immigrant must carry their documentation with them at all times and that the police can request immediate production of said papers with the threat of deportation if an individual is unable to do so. The federal government has not yet passed legislature or decided upon a course of action. While there have been several reform bills proposed, Congress has yet to agree on and pass any of these bills. The United States should abstain from fencing in the border because, even though Central American immigrants can take jobs from Americans, they enrich the American culture and greatly benefit American society.
America has long existed as a multicultural and multiracial society. Because of European immigration in the early 1900s, a mixture of people from different races, cultures and religions came to live in America. At the end of the nineteenth century, the United States encouraged immigration and wanted more people to come and live there, thus enacting the "Open Door" Policy. This massive influx of people created many problems such as racism and organized crime. A combination of push and pull factors made people immigrate to America. For example, some wished to escape poverty or the lack of opportunity in their native country, while others simply wished to pursue the "American Dream" and make something of themselves in a land of unbridled opportunity. Jews and other similarly oppressed groups sought safe haven from political or ideological persecution and wished to find a place where they could practice their religions or express their beliefs without the threat of violence. However, these "Open Door" sentiments soon began to fade. People started feeling angry toward these "new" immigrants because they were often poor, illiterate, and came from different cultural or religious backgrounds. The trauma of the Second World War and the fear of Communism during the Red Scare of the late 1950s also worried many Americans. As they so often do, anger, fear, and ethnic tensions came together to create a breeding ground for persecution and inequality, culminating in immigrant-restricting legislature. The legislature passed by Congress demonstrates the willingness of the United States government to cast America's ideals to the side.
The United States government should refrain from sealing the border with Mexico as such an act would violate the ideals that American society reveres: the ability to make something of yourself when you have come from nothing or very little and the inherent equality and freedom of all men. Dick Armey, a retired member of Congress, states that "this country has always held its doors open. We don't build up walls in the United States. We tear them down." These sentiments parallel the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s; both the African-Americans and the Hispanic populaces had their freedoms and capabilities for productive life limited by the actions or proposed actions of the federal government. Some say that America needs to close her borders to keep out the cartels and other illegal activity (DeMint). However, the cartels are some of the most powerful organizations in the world and have the necessary capabilities to go around existing border fences or to pay off officials to let them through. Thus, the argument that a fence must be created to keep out the cartels is inaccurate. The fences already in place do little except divide friends and families. At the same time, they strain relations between the United States and Mexico (Martinez). In this day and