1911 photo of immigrants coming to the mainland US from Ellis Island. (photo from flickr photographer unknown)
There has been lots of controversy over the new FY2020 refugee cap which puts a cap on the number of refugees the country can take in yearly. The previous cap was 110,000. The FY2020 decreases that by 84% making the yearly cap 18,000. Over 70 million refugees have been forcibly displaced since this cap was set in place which is a dramatic decline from the countries norm. The United States provides refuge for two groups: a refugee program and an asylum program. This sudden shift in the yearly immigration cap has not only affected people who are looking to migrate to the US, but some people’s current status in the US.
“Our state was founded by religious refugees fleeing persecution in the Eastern United States. Those experiences and hardships of our pioneer ancestors 170 years ago are still fresh in the minds of many Utahns,” said Gary Herbert, the governor of Utah. Herbert is one of the many to speak out against the FY2020 cap.
At the heart of the rich history of the United States is immigration. The European settlers founded the US and came under many different circumstances, some of the prominent ones being our basic freedoms. The US has the highest immigration population in the world. They make up about 14.4% of today’s US population.
Written into our constitution are basic human rights, like freedom of speech and religion. This is something that some countries are not as fortunate to have, this is just one of many reasons people migrate into the US. “The President’s order and resulting agency actions threaten to deprive thousands of refugees of their best chance to successfully build a new life and to burden thousands of U.S. families who are waiting to reunite with their parents, children, and other relatives fleeing persecution,” the lawsuit, which seeks to block the order, reads.
Under FY2020, the government will no longer protect temporarily protected groups. The FY2020 act contradicts the administration’s previous statement to protect and provide asylum for people seeking religious freedom. This is just where some of the outrage against this bill begins. Companies like the World Relief Organization work to provide a safe environment for people suffering from religious persecution. Their company’s mission is being deferred by this act.
During the Holocaust, the mass genocide created a diaspora of people of Jewish descent. This left Jewish people displaced in Europe, and if it hadn’t been from counties willing to open their borders to them some would not have stood a chance. The US has an obligation to accept and protect individuals and families who are not seen as a threat to the country if they need it. Putting a cap on the number of people who are able to come in limits people who may be in dire need of asylum.
Popular shows like Party of 5 and Fresh Off the Boat address recent immigration concerns. Movies like The Sun Is Also A Star and Crazy Rich Asians also address concerns. All of the main characters in these shows or movies have either migrated into the US or their parents have. Shows like this are essential because while they are entertaining they also give people examples and a better understanding of others’ circumstances in the United States. They broadcast different scenarios, like household separation, people migrating for better education, better living conditions, escaping a hostile atmosphere, and religious freedom.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA is a program made for individuals who came to the US before the age of 16. DACA grants them basic benefits such as health insurance, work authorization, driver licenses, and complete access to school. The FY2020 allows for the deportation of 700,000 individuals whose status in the US was secure under DACA. Some children who arrived here at a young age don’t have any connection to their country of origin. If deported they may not speak the language, understand the culture, or the means to survive once they arrive there. Some people are at a massive inconvenience and possibly in danger.
For the people whose immigration status in the states are still undetermined are in custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in detention centers. According to the American Immigration Council, $17.1 billion went to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), and only $7.6 went to ICE.
The FY2020 cap may seem in the best interest of United States citizens, but it contradicts the values in which the United States of America founded upon. Immigrants founded America, to put a limit on the amount of individuals approved to be in the US has a ripple effect that extends to every part of the world.