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Why We Need to Build Bridges, Not Walls

Why We Need to Build Bridges, Not Walls

You’ve heard this before, but I’m going to say it again: America is a nation of immigrants. It has been ever since the first European settlers landed on the terrain of the Native Americans, and it’s still that way today. Yet over the years, we’ve seen our fair share of prejudice against groups of all different ethnicities. We allowed Africans and African Americans to be enslaved, and we turned a blind eye to the atrocities committed against them. We interned the Japanese in camps and watched as they suffered. Americans did this over and over again. And while things have gotten better, there is certainly a long way to go.

Racial inequality today is blatantly obvious. Some are doing their best to eradicate it, but others are perpetrating it. This hate surrounding new immigrants and refugees makes me wonder if those who staunchly oppose refugees entering the United States forget where they themselves come from.

To them, I say: Even if you are American, even if you cannot imagine yourself as anything but American, you have roots in other places. Your ancestors probably faced hardships that you cannot fathom in 2017, and you wouldn’t be where you are today if someone had not given aid to your family in a time of need. So considering we all have roots, how can you justify ripping someone else’s out? How can you invalidate the existence of a human being’s pain and suffering because you think you are above them?

I urge everyone to speak up. Say something. Do something. Anything!

It’s our responsibility to help others in need. As Americans, we pride ourselves on having a progressive culture—but when it comes to new people, we’ve replaced our open-mindedness with closed doors. Refusing to see them as anything but a danger shields our country from the possibility of progress.

There’s a saying that goes “we fear what we do not understand,” but those who fear refugees choose not to understand them. They fail to see the shining examples of other countries who’ve welcomed refugees that need their help. The United States is not invincible, nor has it ever been. We have come this far because of the aid given to us by other countries and if we choose not to give them aid in their time of need, we are the ones that it will ultimately backfire on.

I am scared of what they could do to me or my family, and I am scared of what they could do to any person in a position like mine.

I, too, fear what I do not understand. I do not understand why someone would choose to not allow others from entering our country simply because they are not from here. And as a result, I fear any person who would do such a thing. My family and I are from India. We've been living here for 15 years and are permanent residents, but not citizens. I am scared of what they could do to me or my family, and I am scared of what they could do to any person in a position like mine.

Yet I stay hopeful because I know the future belongs to youth like me. We are the ones who will make the change that we want to see in the world, and we’ll continue to stay resilient and remain empowered throughout even the toughest of times. 

Help out by donating to the ACLU or one of the dozens of other organizations assisting refugees. 

By Soumya J., 15

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