The American Dream— what does it really mean?

At what point does the harsh reality of our limited resources shut down the high hopes of the “American Dream”? The answer is— after 4.3 million immigrants from Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, and other Central and South American countries flood U.S. borders and stretch patrol services and entire cities thin. 

Whether immigrants were escaping famines and political catastrophes like the Irish in the mid-1800s or chasing the frenzy of the California gold rush like the Chinese in 1849, the United States has always been seen as a sanctuary for people all around the world. Given the history of America’s founding, there is no question that hopes of finding refuge in this powerful country have drawn in millions since the 1600s.

Yet while it is heartless to send immigrants seeking economic opportunity, asylum, or religious freedom back to where they came from,  or worse— to the streets of the U.S.’s neglected neighborhoods– there is nothing productive about bringing in so many people without a national plan. 

Many Republicans and city residents are polarized from Democratic states who are avid on accepting thousands of these migrants, yet are nowhere near the border to witness the disarray themselves. As a result, they are overwhelmed and unwilling to put up with this increasingly ongoing “border crisis”, particularly in border cities like El Paso, Texas or Miami and the Key Islands in Florida’s southernmost regions. With such a high surge in the census, resources like homeless shelter availability are dwindling more and more; and when bussing the masses to accepting Democratic cities like Washington, D.C., New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago has already pulled over $13 million from taxpayers’ money, desperation is arising in governors and large masses across the country. 

However, what makes this situation so unparalleled is President Biden’s lack of control over the entire situation. By barely issuing a new set of immigration policies as of Jan. 9, governors have had to make independent decisions on how to manage the massive influx of people on downtown streets. 

On Christmas Eve of Dec. 2022, Texas governor, Greg Abbott, sent around 120 migrants to Vice President Kamala Harris’ house in Washington, D.C. Angry with the lack of federal intervention on this nationally concerning catastrophe, Abbott told NBC’s Meet the Press “…We felt that if [Kamala Harris] won’t come down to see the border, if President [Joe] Biden will not come down and see the border, we will make sure they see it firsthand.” Since Aug. 2022, the state of Texas’ spending on immigrant bussing has already topped $13 million

On Jan. 6, 2023, Florida governor, Ron DeSantis signed an executive order activating the National Guard to send back migrants from Haiti, Cuba, and other Caribbean nations to prevent further landings that state governments do not know how to process. 

It is no surprise why state officials are growing exasperated, making their own decisions on their own discretion as President Biden barely visited El Paso, Texas, one of the heaviest sites of this ongoing issue that I witnessed firsthand when I visited family there over the holidays. 

On both sides, Biden was penalized for taking the trip for the first time since taking office two years ago and for his new immigration policies released on Jan. 9. Biden’s new immigration policies include expanding Venezuelan parole programs to Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Cubans, which gives the authorization to stay in the country for two years and authorize work. Of the new policies includes; hiring more asylum officers to reach asylum cases sooner; expanding security on the border; increasing humanitarian assistance in Mexico and Central America; and supporting border cities in managing what to do with such a high influx of people at once. Funding $600 million to the Bridge of the Americas Port of Entry, El Paso’s busiest crossing, is another way Biden is expanding “lawful migration”, also confirming that Mexico has agreed to take to 30,000 declined migrants per month.

As this immigration surge parallels in scale to both Ellis Island’s “Golden Door” era that overwhelmed New York in the 1800s or the 1946 Bracero Program that brought 4.6 million Mexicans to work in agriculture, national policymakers must constitute a solution as they always have in the past.

If we are going to be taking in so many people and filling downtowns with thousands more homeless than they already have, the United States should create a much larger and structured work program that takes the handing out of work visas to migrants in border and migrant-accepting cities to the next level.

Border Report explains how taking migrant workers in jobs that are difficult to fill “in the construction, hotel, retail and domestic industries” benefits those corporations; but what if a large-scale, nationwide renovation plan could be devised so the many failing infrastructures of American cities is resolved by handing out more work visas that are more purposeful by being assigned by federal government assignments?

Rather than working for private industries, migrants could work for federally assigned jobs that take this “win-win situation” between a migrant and the country they are pulling resources from to the next level. Migrants will work on public infrastructure projects in America’s largest cities and the suburbs surrounding them that will likewise bring Biden’s new Infrastructure Bill to fruition and make taxpayers with the work being done with their monetary contributions. Building more bus stations, metro trail tracks, repaving old roads, new homes, homeless shelters, etc. directly helps the nation they are now residing in. 

In this, people asking to take part in the American Dream by crossing the border can, thus, contribute to the American Dream in order to sustain it. Part of being an American is to keep the country with fresh starts that gives its citizens new chances. 

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