UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

The Weekly Debate: Immigrating to a better border policy?

Immigration has been an issue since the founding days of the American Republic and it has not always been entirely positive or negative for those who have stayed here for generations and those “greenhorns” who have just arrived in this land of liberty.


Benjamin Franklin shot his mouth off about German and African immigrants before he became immortalized as a Founding Father. In 1753 he wrote letters to his friends in England elaborating on fears of a French take over of the American mid west, and he explained how German sub colonies in Pennsylvania might undermine a burgeoning English/American nation.

“Those who come hither are generally the most ignorant, Stupid Sort of their own Nation,” he elaborated.


Because immigrants in the 1700s were willing to work harder and for lower wages than people who were native born, they took jobs that could have benefited English people. In his letters, Franklin talks about immigration as a political concept. He speaks about it as a force, the same way he speaks about the poor, and about human nature. His immigrants have no face, no breath of their own, only traits and tendencies.


Notice any similarities?


Here is the heart of our debate: immigrants are individuals. They are not a nebulous force, so we must consider their individual stories, whether they come to America legally or illegally. The justice in our current immigration laws hinges entirely on the individual experiences of immigrants.

Stories of people crossing the Mexican boarder in order to experience the “American Dream” tug on our heartstrings for specific reasons. These people—the poor in their own countries, the working poor here in America—experience injustice in nearly every aspect of their lives. This is a direct result of the American system. There are no avenues for poor people from other countries to become American citizens. Do not tell me these stories do not matter.


They may be pushed aside into the periphery of our society and shunned like they have the plague, but their labor makes the American economy more competitive in a global economy of hard knocks. Now, more than ever, we need a steady flow of low-wage workers to come into our factories and produce the goods we need to stay afloat.


Our economy is based on low-wage workers. Why do you think we can pay 79 cents for Ring Dings? It’s important to accept that our current economy would collapse without permanent low wage labor. We do not have enough people in college and high school combined to rotate through these low wage jobs.

As a nation, we should to come to terms with our biases. When we talk about “illegal immigrates” in the US, we’re often talking about South American immigrants—Haitians, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans. It’s rare to hear a complaint about an illegal Canadian or German immigrant these days working at Duncan Donuts and going to college. But our current immigration reform debate doesn’t acknowledge them. We’re focused on the Mexican boarder, because that’s where the poor immigrants are come from these days.


Besides, this trend of anti-immigrant is more reactionary than anything else; though it should be noted that people who express such views should not be demonized, though a minority may be over the top in their views about the illegal immigrants that cross our border. They tout the “rule of law” argument here and there, but they don’t really address the issue of whether or not it’s just for people to labor without being formally incorporated into our society. We cannot expect a illegal immigrant to have any desire to conform to our laws and customs unless we demonstrate tolerance and our humanity by offering them a place in the sun so that we as a nation can move forward.


In the end, the question that we must ask is: what is the most practical path? The answer lies in respecting everyone’s human rights and the principles of our founding fathers, who fought and bled so that all men and women could have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

About the Contributors
Caleb Nelson served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Fall 2010; 2010-2011; Fall 2011 News Editor: Spring 2009; 2009-2010
Dillon Zhou served as opinions editor for The Mass Media the following years: 2010-2011