Ari Salgado

Contributing Writer

Content warning: The following article contains depictions of racial discrimination in the United States, as well as a racial epitaph for Latin Americans.

 I’ve been reflecting on my memories back home. My most recent memories are of catching glimpses of thousands of Venezuelan migrants — from people sleeping in police stations to being on streets selling snacks and drinks with their children — because the wait for a work visa is long.

I then realized that they had been there for about a year, and there were still people sleeping on police station floors. Chicago mayor Brandon Johnson said that his plan was to “house” these people in tents through the harsh winter. New York also suffered from the same issue. Neither city took considerable action. 

While a lot of people like to claim that these folks are simply trying to leech off our government, the truth is that they escaped their own corrupt government and failing economy. According to Forbes, as of 2022 only 465,000 Venezuelan people migrated to the U.S. out of millions of migrants, with most migrating to Colombia. The number of Venezuelan migrants is roughly equivalent to the number of Ukrainian refugees, and, as it should be, no one objected to helping Ukrainian refugees or worried about how much it would hurt our economy or increase crime. 

To understand why there’s a reactionary difference between European immigrants and Latinx immigrants, we need to look at the history of immigration laws. When the Great Depression hit, over one million Mexicans and Mexican Americans were illegally deported. This was called the Mexican Repatriation. There was also Operation Wetback, which deported 1.3 million immigrants during the recession in the mid 1950s.

We’ve seen throughout history, from the Bracero Program during WWII to the present, when a large portion of our food is picked by Latinx farm laborers, that the U.S. only likes giving limited opportunities if it means they get something greater back. If you look at recent laws, you start noticing the prejudice seeping through. Title 42, a law that prevented people who entered the country unlawfully from being able to seek asylum because of public health reasons, only affected people coming in through the southern border. There are many unethical practices and treatments for Latinx immigrants that are not otherwise seen with white European immigrants: for example, kids being taken away from their parents, being held in cages and being legally allowed to be profiled by law enforcement. 

The U.S. government sets a standard for our society, and it’s done a lot of harm. A huge argument against immigration is that it affects our economy. Undocumented immigrants with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number can file taxes, and about three-fourths  do. According to Boundless Immigration, $492 billion of our tax dollars in 2019 came from undocumented immigrants.

Keep in mind that many states don’t allow undocumented people to get access to federal resources like social security, medicaid or medicare. There would be more money to earn and put into circulation if we gave them some form of status as well. Historically, immigrants have always been beneficial for the economy and are vital to this day. Another argument against immigration is that immigrants steal jobs. Just like I mentioned for the economic point, people who participate create more opportunity. 

As a country, we need to start asking why our empathy only goes to a certain demographic of people. Being an immigrant is a struggle in and of itself, and the intersectionality of being a BIPOC immigrant poses a unique experience that should be acknowledged, as well as challenged. 

Written by

Zach Perrier

Zach Perrier is a Viewpoints Editor for the Wooster Voice. He is from Mentor, Ohio and currently is a junior History major.