This July 4th, Ask Yourself: Are We Living Up to American Ideals?

Jake Neher/WDET

Detroit DACA student Juan Gonzalez at an immigration rally in 2017

On Detroit Today, host Stephen Henderson reflects on the dissonance between the country’s celebrations and the current conditions unfolding at border detention centers, where news of overcrowding and lack of basic necessities for families has captured headlines. Says Henderson:

At the heart of American values is the idea that nearly everyone in this country comes from somewhere else — Europe or Asia, Africa, Australia, North or South America. This country, at its best, is an amalgam of people who were either seeking a better life, or who are here now trying to ensure the promise of opportunity for themselves and their families. 

But at its worst, America is a collection of paranoid xenophobes, who fear that continuing to let people in will diminish opportunity for those who are here. At its worst, this country wants to now draw very fine distinctions about ‘following the laws of immigration,’ rather than embracing the open-door spirit that brought millions to our shores for decades. 

Think of the pictures we’re seeing now — of children separated from their families, of children dying in their parents’ arms, all just to find the most basic elements of safety and prosperity in this country. 

Who are we, that we permit this to happen? Who are we, that we can’t see just a tiny bit of ourselves, or our ancestors, in these newcomers? Who are we, that we find reasons — no, excuses — for the brutality that is unfolding around our borders?”

Henderson speaks with guests who have seen or interacted with immigration authorities about how we treat newcomers.

Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) visited a migrant detention site in Miami on Tuesday with some of her congressional colleagues. She joins Detroit Today to talk about what she saw.

Juan Gonzalez is a local DACA student who is currently studying for the LSAT with the hopes of someday practicing immigration law. 

Melanie Goldberg is the legal director at Justice for Our Neighbors Michigan. She has 20 years of experience practicing immigration law. 

Click on the audio player above to hear this important conversation about immigration, freedom and prosperity.

Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

About the Author

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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