Tanessa Copeland


What It Means to be American?


Most people think of America as “the greatest country in the world,” the country where everyone is treated equal. Other people thought America was great, until they were treated differently, like; immigrants. Immigrants are treated like a problem when, in all reality, all they want is to live somewhere safe for them and their families. They want to live somewhere with freedom. If America’s so great and lives by its laws and its Constitution, immigrants would probably be more welcome here than they are now.

An article by Office of the Historian published in 2017 states in the 1900’s the federal government left Immigration policies up to the individual states and the U.S. received over 5 million immigrants. On February 7, 1849, the Supreme Court ruled Congress alone can regulate immigration. In the same article in the second paragraph, it states that “the 1917 Act implemented a literacy test that required immigrants over 16 years old to demonstrate basic reading comprehension in any language.” If immigrants take this test to become American then they shouldn’t, at any time, be deported. It’s cruel to them and to their families.

Did you know undocumented children can’t go to school because immigration is said to be a big problem. Shouldn’t we be willing to let kids learn no matter the circumstance? If education is important, why is it only important to the ones that are documented? It’s not fair that we aren’t giving children a chance to grow up educated. By not allowing education to undocumented kids, America is wrong. Aren’t we supposed to be about equality? That’s what the 14th Amendment is about in the Constitution, we are suppose to follow the Constitution as a country.

Most of the U.S. handles immigration wrong.  America is suppose to be the country where everyone is free to be who they want, without being judged. People want to come to America to have a better life but, they can’t because they aren’t given the same rights to education and work. In the article “What Do American Values Mean To You” by The New York Times published in 2017 it states “Our respect for the law, freedom of speech, freedom of press, and just our values in general are what is suppose to make us so great.” We need to live up to the values we make everyone think we have, people are saying we need a balance between strictness and generosity. It would have to agree because the more strictness we have over generosity, the more people are going to be against each other.

America’s biggest attribute is supposed to be freedom but, as much as people keep making immigration a problem, it doesn’t feel like freedom is valued as much as it should be. In the book Tribe, by Sebastian Junger, on page 21 it states that “isolation can put people at a greatly inclining risk of depression and suicide.” We as a whole country isolate immigrants. On page 27, it says, “ The United States is so powerful that the only country capable of destroying her might be the United States herself.” The U.S. is destroying itself with all these different beliefs and arguing about everything. With all the negativity and racism towards immigrants in America, it is pulling us apart as a country.

No matter how different everyone is, we are all supposed to be treated the same because in the Constitution it says, “…promise them equal treatment under the law…”. This meaning everyone in America is supposed to have equal treatment. Immigrants are people too. Punish the ones who’v done bad. Don’t punish the kids, they deserve a chance at a better life. An article published in 2017 by Dara Lind, titled “How DACA Works, Who It Protects, and What Will Happen to Immigrants If Trump Shuts It Down” explains that the “DACA is a program to protect DREAMers — unauthorized immigrants brought to the US as children.”This was giving kids the chance to grow having a better life, it was giving families a chance to live in a safe place. Now Trump plans on taking that away and deporting those who were in this program. I think that this is wrong in so many ways, people may not see it from my point of view but there is clearly something wrong with this decision.

Immigrant refugees are located outside of the U.S. Googles definition of a refugee; “A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.” A more complex definition of a refugee; Refugees are people who are authorized to come to the United States because they are determined to be fleeing individual persecution by their home government.” According to Liam Thornton, lecturer in law at University College Dublin, the law states “Donald Trump signed an executive order on January 27 which temporarily bans the majority of refugees from coming to the US and suspends visas for those from seven, mainly Muslim, countries.” The important things we would need to find out about immigrants is which ones are in the most danger, which ones are least likely to be able to return home, and which ones could be effectively screened to make sure they don’t pose a threat to the United States.We don’t have to focus on permanent resettlement of refugees, if anything we should mostly focus on helping refugees take temporary shelter as close to their home as possible. Doing this could make a big difference in helping immigrants still be safe, if deported back to their home countries.

What does America mean to me? Bravery, the ability to fight for what we believe in no matter the cost,  honoring America in any way possible, being free and comfortable to be who you want to be, having the integrity to serve our country with pride. Immigrants come to America with bravery, and wanting freedom for themselves and their families. They also want freedom to be who they want to be, which makes them no different than any of us. Americans are wanting the same things immigrants are coming here for. We are all people who feel the same way about America’s values, especially immigrants wanting a better life. I think as Americans, that follow the Constitution and the Law, we should treat immigrants equal to all Americans because they are people too. We should feel obligated to help them, as a “great country” we should feel like helping immigrants is important so they are able to live a better life.

Photo by iainmerchant


CC BY-SA 4.0 What It Means To Be American by Tanessa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Sophie 2 years ago

    Your post is very well written, and I totally agree with everything that you talked about. You brought up a lot of great argumentative points and educational ones as well. For example, I did not know about the 1917 act or about how deportation and the negative treatment of immigrants can cause depression. These are really great points. I truly believe America is a land built on immigrants, and it still is. Immigrants make up so much of the GDP and economy, that if they were to be deported, especially the young adults under DACA, it would cost the country a lot. I thought this article was interesting about DACA if you would like to check it out: https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_59b15b26e4b0d0c16bb52a87/amp

  2. Chidiogo 2 years ago

    Hello Tanessa, I totally agree with your statements. The U.S. is really treating immigrants wrong because there are so many laws that they are trying to enforce on immigrants while forgetting that america is built up on immigrants. Also the statement that you made saying that “No matter how different we all are, we should be treated the same,” which I strongly agree with. Thanks so much for sharing your post.

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