The State of “Our” Union

What exactly does it mean for someone to be “illegal”? And if there is a clear definition of what illegality means, can it be adequately assigned to a human being?

During his state of the union address, President Trump made quite a few very vague, brush stroke statements about some of our nation’s biggest concerns. Namely, the tax code & immigration, two issues which have been at the forefront of the nation’s minds for months now.

For this post, however, I’d like to focus on the point of immigration, and the way in which it was addressed. When addressing the brutal murder of the two young women – Kayla Cuevas (16), and Nisa Mickens (15), President Trump pointed out that the gang members responsible for this tragedy entered the country as “illegal, unaccompanied, alien minors”. Before I continue, I would like to take a moment to say that the murder of these two young women is an inexcusable atrocity. There is no justification for something like this, nor should there be regardless of our immigration policies.

What I would, however, like to discuss is the way in which the president chose to address the issue of immigration in his speech. In a country like ours, it’s impossible to make a statement that is not politicized. Which is why I understand that sometimes in order to get a point across, one must be unapologetic. However, we have seen President Trump actively state merciless comments about various ethnic groups in the United States. This is a country founded and built by immigrants, it is a country built on the backbone of immigrants, and a country that thrives because of its immigrant populations. the United States does not stand alone in the world as the most powerful country, and it most certainly cannot function alone in the world. So why is it that in a country of immigrants, “immigrant” has become a dirty word?

I am in no way insinuating that the presence of Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Micken’s families at the State of the Union address was inappropriate. What I am saying is that the way in which immigration, as addressed in his speech, was inappropriate and presented an ugly image of immigration into the United States. It’s clear that the president’s stance is for reducing immigration into the U.S. for what he believes and has repeatedly stated is a danger to native-born American citizens. The question is if his concerns are valid when multiple studies have shown that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born American citizens. There was a way to address the issue of immigration without demonizing it, and a better way to present the tragedy of these murders, without directly linking it to immigration as a whole. It’s clear that the President is not above scapegoating, and the most recent of these instances certainly occurred during his address.

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