When we think of an alien, we think of an extraterrestrial being who usually demands to speak with our leader and wants to take over planet Earth. Aliens are portrayed as threats, wishing to exterminate the entire human race, yet our laws use the word “alien” to refer to people from another country, treating them as if they are from another planet. It is no wonder the United States struggles to welcome immigrants into the country, for the law strips them of rights and even humanity. Consequently, immigrants and refugees are targets for hatred and discrimination.
During this past summer, I travelled to McAllen, and El Paso, Texas as well as Juarez, Mexico to study our border policy. I was horrified to find such a hostile environment and a broken system, causing many asylum-seekers to make treacherous journeys, often leading to death by dehydration. Our border policy is mismatched: a poorly built wall that does not effectively prevent border crossings (my group witnessed ladders next to the walls we visited). In fact, the wall is not built exactly on the Mexican-USA border, so we lose some of our own land, invading individuals’ property and affecting the local environment. There’s a clear disconnect between the “threats” we are seeing and the policy we are creating to prevent them, and I believe humanizing and redefining our laws can help save immigrant lives.
How can we humanize immigrants and refugees to change and prevent this maltreatment? I read an article in the Millennium by Dan Bulley called “Home is Where the Human Is? Ethics, Intervention and Hospitality in Kosovo,” which analyzed the Kosovan refugee crisis of 1998-1999. The author attacked Britain’s humanizing of Kosovan refugees, for he said their definition of humanity, focused on a “human-home relationship,” limited the British from opening their own borders and effectively helping the situation (1). In other words, the British insisted that these refugees were people being inhumanely slaughtered, yet they were not willing to open their borders or make any efforts provide asylum in Britain. Instead, they asserted that neighboring countries, closer to the refugees’ homes, should open their borders. People sympathize with the refugees and immigrants who die but remain unwilling to welcome them. This hypocrisy is a puzzle I wish to tackle in my research. It’s obvious that the definition of humanizing needs to be reanalyzed in order to effectively implement immigration and refugee policy. I seek to reevaluate international policies to see how the world can minimize refugee and immigrant struggles as they change and uproot their homes. I’m hoping to research how the world can start seeing refugees and immigrants as people worth welcoming, rather than an alien threat.
(1) Dan Bulley. “Home is Where the Human Is? Ethics, Intervention and Hospitality in Kosovo,” Millennium 39, no. 1 (July 2010), 42-63.