Zhang Jingwei: American Dream shattered as US tightened grip on immigration


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Zhang Jingwei: American Dream shattered as US tightened grip on immigration


By Zhang Jingwei    Source: Asia Pacific Daily    Published: 2018-4-4

The U.S. in the Trump era has changed. Under the “American First” policy, the U.S. not only dropped an iron curtain of trade protectionism, but also erected a high wall to suppress on immigration policies.

Absorbing global immigrants, becoming a melting pot, all these have consisted a magnificent “American Dream” for the world citizens. Whereas now the dream is no longer beautiful; rather, it has become a nightmare.

More than one year into Trump’s administration, immigration policy has increasingly been tightened. On one hand, Trump honored his promises during the campaign by raising immigration application requirements and curtailing “political asylum.”

On the other hand, he has been trampling on the American traditions on immigration through unorthodox rhetoric and actions, such as building a barrier at the US-Mexico border, or using insulting wordings like “shithole countries”, putting immigrants and their children on provisional protected presence into great anxiety and raising controversial debates in the states.

Yet just like his obsession with trade protectionism, Trump will not be more merciful to immigrants but only lead the U.S. further away from the crown of an immigrant country.

Data showed that in the first year of Trump’s administration, the number of refugees accepted by the U.S. was the lowest since 2002. While the US Immigration and Customs departments arrested more than 140,000 illegal immigrants in 2017, a new high for the past three years.

According to the US Department of State, the F-1 student visa issued as of September 30, 2017 was also reduced by 17% over the previous fiscal year and nearly 40% from that of 2015.

Even the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has released a low-key transition signaling that the US is no longer an immigrant country. On the mission introduction on its website, the USCIS removed the expression of US commitment as an immigrant country, but added pledges to safeguard Americans’ and homeland security, which already highlighted the acquiescence of Trump’s administrative departments on more restraints.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) removed the expression of US commitment as an immigrant country On the mission introduction

When the American Dream becomes “dream of Americans,” the founding principles on which the country was established has faltered. As a country founded on 13 colonies in North America, the U.S. has from the beginning been growing on the blood of immigrant culture. This young country is full of vitality due to immigrants which contribute to its typical melting pot culture, and that is the soul of American dream.

The restraints on immigration policy ushers in a turning point for the U.S. history. To some extent, this is for the good of “American first” as Trump administration believes that its citizens can live a better life with reduction of illegal immigrants.

A conservative and self-closing U.S. may gain instant gains, but will lose the driving force for sustainable development.

In addition, the high walls erected may not necessarily create a paradise for Americans. The rise of lone wolf shootings has indicated that even if the U.S. blocks the way for immigration, Americans still lack sufficient sense of security.

The American Dream was beautiful, not only because the U.S. was the only superpower in the world, but also because it had an open mind to embrace immigrants. Now, the country is depriving people of their right to realize their dreams under a paranoid mode of power.

It also cast a negative impact on the world. The EU under the refugee crisis not only saw Brexit, but also more disagreements between the old and new European communities on immigration policies. The European populists followed Trump and went against the moral glory of Merkel’s EU-led refugee policy, leaving European establishments facing waves of election defeat.

Zhang Jingwei is visiting fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China (RDCY).