Immigration. It’s a word that gets people riled up in the streets and vocal on the internet. But I believe that many are zooming in on the wrong parts of immigration as a problem. Some Americans turn their contempt of foreigners toward the southern border. Some Europeans turn their hatred of other religions towards the stream of migrants from the Middle East. Yet many of these groups have the wrong object of their dislike.
In my opinion, the real problem here is immigration and emigration, altogether. People of various cultures moving from nation to nation has some major effects, both on the migrants and on the nations. I believe that many social problems can be solved if global immigration as a whole is restricted. Here I will briefly overview the negative effects of immigration and the concept of ethnopluralism, as well as why opponents of immigration restrictions are using invalid points.
The first example I seek to explain here is the United States of America, the proud home of democracy, freedom and opportunity. The vision of the European settlers who arrived in America was a benevolent one: The creation of a settlement where all can be free and wealthy. Yet they managed to overlook a certain fact, more specifically a certain people: The Native Americans. The settlers seem to have followed the principle of “might makes right” in their conquest of native land, and slowly native land was reduced to a few reserves. The native population decreased, as many were massacred and as natives defected to European culture. Their ancestral land was robbed from them, and their populace was left to struggle along on the little property they had.
I need not detail here the horrible misdeeds against the Native American people: The Wounded Creek massacre, the Sacramento River massacre, the list goes on and on. And what is the cause of these crimes against a populace? Immigration. What is the cause of the theft of native land by armed culprits? Immigration.
Now many may say that this is not comparable to immigration in modern times. It most definitely is. Take immigration to America. According to an article by Smithsonian Second Opinion, “What brings immigrants to the United States is… the idea of a land of opportunity where you can change your circumstances and that you can be able to better your financial, social, economic, cultural well-being in the process.”
The quote explains itself. Coming to America is about opportunity, whether that be economic, social, or cultural. It was this same opportunity that brought the Europeans to America, to Africa, and to Asia.
The same article interviewed a fourth-generation Japanese American, and she said “For me, as a fourth-generation American who has never gone to Japan, has never lived in Japan, I have an appreciation for my family’s background — but I consider myself American in culture as well as in nationality. Is it possible for us to retain, or to allow immigrants to retain their sense of identity without asking them to give it up?”
This is an interesting question, and is one that I think defines the policy of immigration. My answer is no. As an ethnic Indian whose parents immigrated to the U.S, I think that there is a defined choice between maintaining your identity and “fitting in.” I have proudly chosen the former, but I know many Indian-Americans who have not. Their family history dies with them. They lose their tradition, or it is morphed into some modernist form of their heritage. I believe that it is slightly incorrect to describe America as a “melting pot,” instead it is a smoothie. The ingredients are blended together to the point where they are no longer visible.
A popular counterargument to my opinion may be the consideration of nations whose living conditions are violent and/or unbearable. In my view, it is the responsibility of every nation to help other nations improve, but it is not a responsibility to accept the refugees of conflict. In other words, if a nation’s domestic condition is not suitable, all other nations should work together to make it better. And the people of that nation should stand up and fight for their nation. Another popular counterargument may be pointing to the fact that not all ethnicities have their own nation, and they may suffer oppression. This is where ethnopluralism comes in. It is the right of every ethnicity to govern themselves. It would be much better if all ethnicities maintained separate ethnostates, for the preservation of tradition, and for the guarding of global peace.
Overall, I believe that the idea of ethnopluralism is an excellent idea that can solve many of our world’s problems. Immigration is a force that threatens our way of life and our safety as humans.
Eashwar Hari lives in West Hartford.
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