Having always been intrigued by immigration at the southern border, I ponder about the situations that people find themselves in, where illegally crossing this frontier is worth the risk of federal punishment. The hopes involved in methodical planning and execution fascinate me- what continues to motivate many of these people to endure such a journey? Social aspects of immigration have been far more interesting and profound than the political jargon plastered on papers. Thus, my focus has been on the sociological and psychological effects of undocumented immigration, deportation, and detention on migrants and the American public.
This essay explores the history, social impacts, and current events revolving around immigration to elaborate on why the issue continues to be of social significance.
To interpret migration at the southern border, one should understand the origins of such immigration and the sociological outcomes of deportation and detainment in today’s political climate. Immigration- perceived by the United States as a negotiation tactic based on “geopolitical goals and racial views”- is the basis for our nation’s economy, culture, and politics, for this democracy contains more immigrants than other countries in the world.
Undocumented immigrants account for 11.1 million of the 43.3 immigrants entering the United States, and most of this cohort comes from the central-plateau regions of Mexico. The explosion of Mexican immigration gave way when the United States encouraged entry for foreign laborers in the mid-1880’s. Cornelius describes the root of Mexican immigration as an “industrial corridor,” through which multigenerational lineages have relocated to satisfy the demands of the United States economy.
This phenomenon highlights the present-day observation that immigration from the southern border is more concentrated than ever- considering the increased branching of familial relationships. Economic ties and familial traditions set the foundation for future generations and explain why migrants are compelled to cross the border. As Nicholson and CAP immigration team states, “Immigration has long supported the growth and dynamism of the U.S. economy,” meaning that these generational flows provide some form of economic security and promise to both nations. However, these relationships have turned sour under the current era of growing hostility. With unilateral immigration policies, it is evident that unbalanced discretion between states and federal government has lead to the increase in deportations, detentions, and separations. Moreso, select states have cracked down on sanctuary cities. As a result of this political rigidity, more Mexican immigrants are returning home than arriving.
Although deportation has gained popularity in this political era, the nation continues to strictly enforce its patchy immigration laws to varying degrees in efforts to halt illegal inflow. However, economic and familial motivations outweigh the anti-immigrant perceptions, as those in Mexico push past the border. By politically stigmatizing immigration, the United States’ current political climate ironically challenges the nation’s core principles of multiculturalism and establishes an environment where Latino immigrants are socially antagonized. Increasing skepticism of migrants sources xenophobia and ethnophobia as products of the century’s immigration crisis. Artemyeva and Chernov argue that consequences of migration negatively impact social life and spark social tension, which in turn, destabilizes the economy and politics. Experiencing the third mass deportation in American history, southern border migrants feel targeted by the law. They are compelled to withdraw from public participation to avoid “anxiety, stress, and confusion”, and instead, they observe social exclusion- longer frequenting community events.
Other immigrants have skimped out on purchasing items that link them to American life; instead, they send remittances back to their native countries, which negatively impacts the United States economy. Ideas centered temporality keeps these southern-border migrants on edge about reintegration opportunities. With the prospect of deportation on the horizon, cultural socialization is challenged under the current socio-political climate. Stigmatized by undocumentation, Latino children (legal and illegal) experience an identity crisis since their nationalities are under scrutinization: “all children regardless of their own or family member’s documentation status were fearful [of deportation].” However, despite the threat of separation, parents enculurate their children to develop a sense of ethnic identity; this study conveys that the value placed on Mexican culture outweighs the stigmas placed by American society. Although southern border migrants reside in an era of social stigmatization, they are still able to pass down their culture even though deportation and separation are probable.
From increased border security to internal social control methods, modern deportation arises under Trump’s presidency and is supported by legislation. Varzally argues that “the changing contours of laws restricting and welcoming immigrants reflect the outcome of heated discussions about the economic, cultural, and political needs (68). Responsible for perpetuating deportations, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act justifies Trump’s tactics. It is also evident that this enforcing this policy manifest social consequences. In “Social Effects of Mass Deportations by the United States Government,” Hagan, Rodriguez, and Castro note that the administration’s crackdown displaces more than 350,000 long time residents who have already assimilated and associated themselves with the United States (1375). Under Trump’s presidency, issues with immigration reformation have come to light.
Recently, two Guatemalan children who crossed the southern border perished after their arrest by border officials, and 2,500 children were separated from their families (Bennet para. 4). These mishaps have motivated immigrants to arrive to legal ports to seek asylum. Meanwhile, Trump seeks to persuade Congress into passing a 5 billion dollar fund for his border wall by exaggerating the extremities of illegal immigration, which further stigmatizes southern-border immigrants (Chappell para. 2). Under Trump’s presidency, one is able to understand the contentions regarding immigration and deportation based on the proposal of the wall. Latent functions from Trump’s immigration reform demonstrate the questionability of morals in today’s society.
Immigration is of public interest because the United States is still unable to reach comprehensive immigration reforms under Trump’s presidency. Therefore, arguments regarding who should be allowed into the country and how to limit generational influx drive current politics today. Although there is a net drop of illegal immigration, the United States continues to strictly enforce its patchy immigration regulation to varying degrees. Trump’s border wall causes controversy since many believe harsh immigration reforms are too radical and ultimately ineffective, while others agree it is the measure to take. One should also consider that the majority of illegal immigrants have been in the country for over a decade and families here as well (Nicholson, Michael D., and CAP Immigration Team para. 23).
The stakes are high for society because immigrants are an integral aspect of economy, and as a top nation, people may need to better understand this primary source of our labor supply. In this century, where empathy connotes social modernity, the public should comprehend the sociological consequences for immigration and deportation at the border instead of hypocretizing present notions of humanitarianism. Today’s socio-political climate under the Trump regime raises controversies involving immigration at the southern border. Policies aiming to increase social control and decrease migration result family separations and identity crises for illegal immigrants. The crackdown and rigidity of immigration policy creates social stigmas for anyone in the United States associated with Latin heritage. With Trump’s vow to construct a wall, questions about politics, culture, and economy arise. Immigration at the southern border is of social significance because ultimately, isolating an ethnic group violates the morals of multiculturalism that the United States was founded upon.