Monday, May 12, 2014

Eliminating Misconceptions, Uncovering Silences on Immigration


While browsing on the Internet when I was supposed to be studying for a class, I came across a quiz on PBS Independent Lens on the myths and realities of immigration. I was completely interested. One of the reasons is because I took an earlier quiz on PBS on immigration during a class last year. Another reason is because I like seeing common myths on certain issues being debunked, whether they relate to race, gender, class, or in this case, immigration.

One of the reasons why I enjoy seeing common myths being debunked is because it is great to challenge the status quo. No, seriously. But another reason is because myths fostering misconceptions and ignorance lead to more harmful effects. In the case of immigration, they contribute to the stereotyping and suspicion of immigrants, particularly those who are people of color, which leads to discrimination or the acceptance of discriminatory policies. Learning the truth, rather than accepting the myths about immigration, helps create an environment in which immigrants face less hostility and alienation.

In one of my classes last week, I learned about the myths and realities of immigration. Most of the myths that were addressed and debunked included perceptions of immigrants as “job stealers” who “take over” the United States. But the most interesting myth that was debunked was the myth that immigration is solely based on the immigrants themselves rather than the economic effects of globalization imposed on by the United States. This reality is interesting since it highlights something important. Immigrants are not “taking” anybody’s job. Rather, they are leaving their home countries, where their job opportunities were snatched from them.

The PBS quiz provides an even more complex picture of immigration, not just in the United States but also in the entire world. Its questions challenge the idea of the United States as the main “immigrant nation,” the common profile of the American immigrant, the irrational claim that “illegal immigrants are taking over the nation,” the over-emphasis on the border as a way that immigrants travel to the United States, and more. Basically, what I am trying to say is take this quiz. Here is the link:

Another thing that I have discovered online is information about a documentary called Documented, which is by an undocumented American immigrant named Jose Antonio Vargas. Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who migrated to the United States from the Philippines as a child. Now he is an immigration reform activist who tells the story of his reconnection with his mother, who he had not seen in over 20 years, in this film. This film aims to debunk common stereotypes about the undocumented immigrant in the United States. Unfortunately, there are no screenings in New York City, meaning that the only way I could watch the film is if I travel to one of the screening locations…or if I pre-order. The link on information about the film is here: Check it out.

By actively challenging the myths regarding immigration and immigrants themselves, multiple forms of media aim to contribute to a new world, one that lets the voices of immigrants be heard.

- Jacqueline Retalis

No comments:

Post a Comment