July 24, 2014

The Immigration Issue

By Qinglian Gao

In a speech on Jan. 29, President Obama said that “now is the time”[1] for immigration policy change. The proposal of which he spoke would place millions of illegal immigrants on a clear path to citizenship.

Illegal immigration in America has been a serious problem not only socially, but also politically. From a social perspective, illegal immigrants increase instability of the society, shrink the benefits of citizens and polarize the societal structure. From a political perspective, the issue of illegal immigration is always regarded as an unpredictable bomb for politicians. To me, immigration, whether legal or illegal, is one of the biggest symbols of America that the rest of the world sees.

Jose Antonio Vargas, who spoke at the University of Washington where I study, is a Filipino-American journalist living and working in the United States under an illegal status. He has been advocating for millions of illegal immigrants in United States, especially for young immigrants who study hard and work hard, chasing their own American dream. His message brings up a question: are all illegal immigrants bad people? I would say most of them are not.

In my country, China, “immigration” is a strange word. Although we have 56 ethnic groups, Han, the largest ethnic group, accounts for more than 91 percent of our whole population. The other 55 ethnic groups share the rest of the 9 percent. But we never regard them as “immigrants”. They have been in China for thousands of years. Some of the ethnic groups have even dominated the whole country for almost 10 centuries. Our government has various policies in favor for those ethnic minorities, such as extra economic support, cultural heritage preservation and privileged standard of enrollment to higher education.

In my opinion, we should acknowledge the diversity that immigration and minority groups bring to the whole society. To be a future leader in a world facing the increasing trend of globalization, one must always keep in mind the issues of immigration and minority. After all, the prosperity of economy, the richness of culture and the legacy of society are built by the wisdom, efforts and volition of generations of people coming from all over the world.

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