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The Dehumanization of Immigrants

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    Many people would say immigration is a crime but is it really a crime seeking for a better future for themselves and for their families? No, it is not a crime. However, what really is a crime is dehumanizing immigrants. People such as politicians and media views them as criminals and think that immigrants only come here to vandalize and commit criminal acts. That is why they are dehumanized, mainly by using derogatory language like calling them ‘wetbacks’ and ‘animals’, and also by mistreating them as if they were less than a human being.

    An example of how dehumanization is implemented on people to perform, through the use of derogatory language is through the influence of people. Some of them being them being the most influential people of our nation, who are supposed to be setting good examples for their people but are not doing that. President Donald Trump is one of those people. In “The Real Risk of Trump’s Dehumanization of Immigrants,” Vann R. Newkirk II, a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers politics and policy, reveals that Trump used animal remarks to describe immigrants, “You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are.

    These aren’t people– these are animals”.That is what Donald Trump said during a meeting on so-called sanctuary cities, according to The New York Times. Just the fact that he said immigrants are animals is very disrespectful because no human no matter their race or beliefs should be downgraded into being an animal. Every person in the world has to be taken into account because we are all the same we just have different appearances and speak different languages. Also in the article, Trump said that “ The Mexican government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States,” in a statement in 2015. “ They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc” ( Newkirk, 2018, para. 8). Even though it is true that there are some people who come to this country who are rapists, drug dealers, and so on, but however, not all immigrants are. So that should not be an excuse to dehumanize and use racial slurs towards immigrants because you can find those types of people that are criminals in every race, not just in one.

    Another way Immigrants are dehumanized is by being mistreated, like for example the border patrol stripes away every right an immigrant has when crossing the border and are put into caged areas like if they were vicious animals that can’t be tamed. In the article “ Border Patrol Continues to Abuse Immigrant Women,” by Americans for Immigrant Justice, an award-winning non-profit law firm that protects and promotes the basic human rights of immigrants, argues that “The women had no access to a bath or shower. They were not provided with even the most basic personal hygiene products like a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb or soap. Nor were they provided with a change of clothing.

    Two of the women were menstruating while in the hieleras but were not adequately provided with sanitary napkins; because they could not clean themselves or change their clothes, they were humiliated because they smelt badly” ( AI Justice Teams, 2013, para. 5 ). That is not fair that they are making immigrants suffer by depriving them of basic needs while also not allowing them to take a shower to stay clean, which is very important to avoid getting illnesses. It is like the border patrol rarely cares what they are doing to these people, they only care about themselves. And I believe the border patrol is dehumanizing these people because immigrants are coming to the U.S. illegally and they believe they come here to do criminal acts and take over, so they want to punish them for that.

    In the novel Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, a Pakistani novelist, writer and brand consultant, it mentions a part when Nadia one of the main characters felt like an animal because of the lack of self-care of herself. Nadia couldn’t keep up with herself because of trying to run away from the nativist extremist of every place she traveled to because there were always people trying to harm them and the other refugees. So they could never feel safe in finding asylum, they were always threatened. However, until she got to London she was able to feel human once again, she got to take a shower, which it has been a while since she had one. Hamid revealed that “what she was doing, what she had just done, was for her not about frivolity, it was about the essential, about being human, living as a human being, reminding oneself of what one was, and so it mattered, and if necessary was worth a fight ”(Hamid 72).

    I agree with Hamid because we do have to recognize that we are human and that we have a voice to speak up to be heard, to speak up about the dehumanization and to try to put an end to it. Although Nadia and Saeed did not have to face being mistreated as much as like the immigrants who come to this country for a better life, however, they still were. Saeed also felt dehumanized in London, Saeed felt uncomfortable in where they were staying at because the other men around where he lived at were judging him, “…because here in this house he was the only man from his country, and those sizing him up were from another country, and there were far more of them, and he was alone” ( Hamid 85). The people from the other country were basically making him feel like an alien like he should not be there because he does not belong. Which is sad to me because those people were refugees just like him and Nadia and they were practicing dehumanization which is what they were trying to run away from in their country.

    Even after immigrants have successfully passed through the border and are now settling down, the dehumanization of immigrants still continues. My parents were one of those peoples, both of them experienced being dehumanized in different situations. My dad experienced it at his work, in which he worked at a Rubber Company. When he barely started to work there he had to deal with people calling him names and downgrading him just because he is Mexican and did not have papers, while also making him do all the work by himself. Soon after a few years all of that stopped and they started showing respect to him because they noticed he was the only one who was producing more money for the company. Another way that my dad was dehumanized was when he called to ask about a house, he was trying to buy. However, when he called and asked if they know how to speak in Spanish so they could communicate they replied saying ‘this isn’t Mexico, learn to speak English’ and then hung up. My mom was dehumanized like almost every day of her life, she too had people call her names and till this day still is being called names.

    She deals with that everytime she goes to get food at the food banks because some of the people in line they look at her with despise and sometimes treat her horribly, for example one time my mom needed a pen to fill out a paper that they gave her to sign so they could add her to the roster of who comes and gets food but she did not have one so she went up and asked one of the people there who was helping out if they had a pen and they responded very rudely. The person scolded my mom to go and get the pen out of her car and she told him she didn’t have one so then he threw the pen on the floor and told her if she wanted it she had to pick it up off the floor, and at that moment she felt so humiliated and decided that she was not going to pick it up because he is no better than my mom and was not about to let someone step on her like that. I’m glad she chose to do that because not only did she not let herself feel less than a human but also showed him that what he just did was very wrong, and she did that by not responding back to him and just leaving.

    Immigrants are Dehumanized on a day-to-day basis even once they cross the border by many people like the border patrol and politicians. They are not only disrespecting immigrants by calling them hurtful names and describing them as animals but by also mistreating them. I am aware that crossing the border to the United States is illegal, although that should not be a reason for people to cause harm to immigrants. That is why dehumanizing immigrants is the real crime here because immigrants are just looking for an opportunity for a better life and that is why they decide to cross the border.

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