A New Definition of the American Identity

Many Americans take pride in the United States for being culturally diverse, yet, at the same time, many of those same Americans also place an expectation on immigrants to assimilate. This process of assimilation varies throughout each geographical region and through each individual groups of ethnicity and involves many challenges. For instance, Antonio Vargas, a New York Times writer, was raised and educated in the United States. He, like many other American students, enjoyed American pastimes and cultural activities. But because of his undocumented status, he wasn’t able to obtain a driver’s license and lived in constant fear of being discovered (My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant). He, like other undocumented student activists, have begun to shed light on their immigration status. Recently, we have been experiencing a movement led by undocumented students that includes events like the “Coming-Out Event” in Orange County in the spring of 2011 (Coming Out “Undocumented”). These individuals feel cheated out of the American dream. Many have grown up culturally American and identify as American, but because of one detail that they do not have control over, their documentation status, they cannot participate as full members of society. In other words, they are being punished for their parents’ or guardians’ choice of bringing them to the United States.

I agree that the United States must act in its best interest, but is denying these students a chance to receive an education and become law-abiding citizens in our best interest? We cannot enforce a mass deportation of this group— that would be not only morally corrupt, but impractical and costly, too. Approving bills such as the Dream Act would become a long-term investment because we would be creating a more educated and larger workforce and therefore stimulate the economy. The United States cannot continue to ignore the needs of these students. Many have complied and have assimilated, and the United States should allow them to become contributing members of society in order to progress into a better tomorrow for our immigrant populations.

4 responses to “A New Definition of the American Identity

  1. Today, one of my friends said “Getting accepted to college is a special landmark in your life…’CONGRATULATIONS YOU HAVE NOW FULLY ASSIMILATED INTO AMERICAN CULTURE'”

  2. I think it is great that undocumented students are starting to stand up for their rights as Americans. Though they were born on foreign lands, they know no other home. America is an immigrant country. All immigrants deserve the opportunity to better the state of this country by bettering their own lives. I hope legislation such as the DREAM Act will make this a reality.

  3. It is a shame that millions of undocumented students, who identify as American, are being deprived of their rights as a citizen. Although it is true that the undocumented students were not born in the U.S., they were still raised in this country and forced to assimilate. These kids embrace the American culture more than any other citizens because they feel like they have to in order to keep moving up and this is what is needed to get them close to a legal status. So, I believe it is unfair that these undocumented students are not receiving the rights they grew up learning with. Some of these undocumented students have the potential of being very successful, but we hold them back when we do not approve bills that are for the good of the immigrant communities. Why are we afraid of letting undocumented students have more opportunities and rights? If we want America to keep succeeding, then we must give undocumented students an opportunity to call themselves legal American citizens and have all the benefits of a citizen. People shouldn’t be scared that our “American identity” is changing; we need to embrace the change and no longer look down on undocumented immigrants.

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