• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Rich Barlow

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

Comments & Discussion

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There are 48 comments on Welcome to America?

  1. Its not immigrants that decent Americans are against, its ILLEGAL aliens who we are against. What about ILLEGAL do you not understand? Lizzy Warren says “its not illegal to be illegal”. THAT it the problem with immigration! I feel for the hundreds of decent honest immigrants who are going through the process LEGALLY!

        1. It’s not actually the “alien” part that most people take issue with, it’s the “illegal” part.

          This is because the “illegal” modifies the PERSON, and not the ACT. Furthermore, because we love abbreviations, we generally shorten the phrase and end up calling people “illegals.” This is very dehumanizing because it IMPLIES that someone’s very existence is illegal. And advocates of retiring that phrase like to say “no human being is ‘illegal.'”

          This is why the phrase “undocumented immigrant” is much favored, because it describes a person as someone who doesn’t have the proper authorization to be within these geographical borders, but nothing about HIM as a PERSON is illegal.

    1. What is an “American” and even more so a “decent American”? Where do “legal” immigrants fall in this definition? How about “naturalized” immigrants? Are they Americanized enough to be American for you? It’s really convenient for you to consider yourself in that extremely vague term. Also, capitalizing the word “ILLEGAL” doesn’t define the term for you. In fact, all it really seems to do is highlight the origins of calling someone an “ILLEGAL” immigrant which, as stated in the article, came up in order to exclude only Chinese Immigrants in the late-19th century. This concept of illegality with immigration was founded on racist principles to keep out Chinese. These policies weren’t used to exclude northern European immigrants which were the “desirable” foreigners. Immigration policy is never applied evenly. The same holds today as well. Don’t believe me? Find two people who came into America, one from the Canadian border and another who came in through the Mexican border and analyze the different experiences.

  2. No Americans do not hate immigrants it hates illegal immigrants; who should be deported for breaking our laws. People who came here legally or are the descendants of people who came here legally who have since paid taxes for generations and earned the right to vote do not want to see people who break the rules gain access to what they have worked so hard to achieve. This is no different than giving every student in the class an A irrespective of how well they did on the exam. But some people like to muddy the water and make it appear as if opposing illegal immigration is the same thing as opposing all immigration.

  3. I think when the immigrants who came after WWI and WWII came so trying to contribute to get a better life. They also had to have a sponser and papers. You also had to learn the language and fit in.

    Today, anyone can come. The country also does not try to melt them into the “pot.” They are not made to learn English. The gov’t caters to them. This is not the way it was when our grand parents came over. They wanted to come and cotribute. They never wanted hand outs. They wanted to show their fellow citizens they were strong, determined, and loved this country.
    The gov’t now enables the immigrants to slack off and not be held accountable.
    This is why citizens of this country look down and see them as a drag not as productive want-to-be US citizens in my view.


    Any goal without a plan is just a wish.

    1. An alien can’t collect welfare, unemployment, social security or medicare, so how exactly are they “slacking off”?

      Don’t you think that immigrants are coming to the US today for precisely the same reasons that your grandparents did earlier? Namely, for the chance to have better-paying work and a reasonable chance for their kids to have a better life than they did? And what about the 100,000+ members of our military who were not born in the United States, many of them not even legal citizens yet? I don’t see a group of people who are anything other than strong, determined, and willing to lend a hand.

    2. Your statement is totally biased and no statistical data backs it up. How do you say that immigrants are not contributing to building the future of this country when for example 50% of the start-ups in silicon valley is done by immigrants… take a look at the grad schools, go get the information from universities and you will know what percentage of them are immigrants. Do you really think that this country could be run without the engagement of immigrants? I believe this is you who are slacking off and instead of working just keep on complaining…

    3. You also have to ask yourself if Americans would take the jobs that illegal immigrants are taking. Or if Americans would work for the same wages as illegal immigrants…things would probably be more expensive if Americans were doing the same jobs illegal immigrants are currently doing.

    4. Let me ask you a question. How many undocumented immigrants do you actually know, personally? I don’t think it’s fair for you to categorize them as lazy people who slack off and just take handouts if you don’t actually know any. I know many of them and I can tell you that they are no different than my grandparents who came over from Italy on a boat in 1952 to find work and a better life. And at that time there was no 10 year waiting process to come here legally. People just came as they pleased.

    1. We like “legal” immigrants. I think the country is full enough though. We are being to become unsustainable because of current immigration policy. It is time to take care of the native born population, not those who are being used to promote political agendas.

      1. america’s full enoguh? how about china?
        and i’m not sure if you’re aware that america hands out citizenship voluntarily to those distinguished people. i wouldn’t say americans are afraid of competitions, but i certainly think the government’s lazy for using successful “products” from education in other countries to build its own, in order to minimize resources and obtain optimal results.

  4. Those of you who have commented so far are a different category of people (likely in big cities or highly educated or just … different!) than those who do not like immigrants, even the legal ones. Yes, they do exist, and I have first hand experiences (many, many of them). They exist, not in big cities or highly educated regions as much, but in smaller towns/cities in various parts of the US. I can even name a few in Boston.

    They ask questions like “So when are you going back?”, “Are you going to take my son’s job?” and so on (to state a few non-inflammatory ones).

    Furthermore, if you look at the “minorities” aspect, I fall in one of the affluent minorities (not money-wise, but other-wise) which is not included in the usual definition of “minorities”, and do not get those benefits (not that I want them). Yes, I have competed with Americans here, and got my jobs fair-and-square, my bosses being American.

    But that is changing slowly – my wife is ineligible to apply to a majority of jobs on account of not being a US citizen (or perm. res.); they keep positions unfilled for years but wouldn’t give my wife a job!

    1. There is evidence that this is not the case – that there were people in the Americas prior to the Northern Asian migratory populations who are the ancestors of todays Native Americans.

  5. Saying someone “hates immigrants” because they are against illegal immigration is like saying someone “hates business” because they are against drug dealers.

    1. so you are basically saying that illegal immigrants and drug dealers are the same?
      The only similarities i can see between the two groups is that they are both purposely attacked by our government’s racist and money hungry laws.

      1. No – I am saying that both actions are illegal (hence the term “illegal immigrant”). So to try to demonize those who support legal immigration but do not support illegal immigration is akin to the comparison I made above.

        What would you say to those who are going through the legal immigration process when they see others simply skip the line and go in without permission.

        Imagine you are waiting in line to buy groceries and someone simply walks in front of you and puts their stuff on the counter. Would you be happy about that?

        Legal immigrants follow our immigration law and spend a lot of time and money to become legal residents. How is it fair to simply say – Oh, well you should follow the rules, but these people over here don’t have to.

  6. It seems like the main issue here is xenophobia. I find it extremely hypocritical for anyone who isn’t 100% Native American to “hate” immigrants, illegal or otherwise. America is made up of immigrants; it is what makes this country what it is today. What difference should a piece of paper make? Most immigrants take jobs that most US citizens don’t want anyway. I have a very close Irish family that is here without green cards and you wouldn’t believe how stressful it is to live in secrecy, off the grid, scared every time the door knocks for fear of deportation. Nobody wants to be here illegally. If there was an easier way to come to the US legally, they would pursue it. Not to mention that they are assigned a tax ID number so they can pay taxes, and don’t even reap any of those benefits. People brag about their Italian, irish, Chinese, etc. heritage, yet they fault those in the country today who came for the same reasons their ancestors did.

  7. If people come to America to live here, they should at least learn English. I hate when I, an American citizen, have to call somewhere and listen to the “press 2 for Espanol.”

    1. Why? English isn’t even the US “official language”? I think you should do yourself a favor and try to learn a second or even third language to stop being regarded as ignorant, as the rest of the world sees you.

    2. This is perhaps the example of American xenophobia that bothers me the most. There is no practical reason why multilingualism should bother you; it only has benefits. When I travel overseas I am extremely grateful to my host countries that provide English signage (despite my efforts, I will never know every language), and I always meet people who are enthusiastic about learning English and wanting to practice with a native speaker. If we can’t make that same effort to expand beyond our own language and culture, what does that say about us? The United States is not a country with a single linguistic or cultural identity. And our national identity, what it means to be “American,” is larger tent than I think you realize.

      1. I like your comment Anonymous. We live in in a world where borders are becoming harder to distinguish and more globalized. Business are managed in a country from people from another country.

        Being American must apply to all people living in the American continent, not only the US, so we are all Americans.

        We call European to every individual living in France, England, Italy or Spain isn’t it?

    3. alot of these spanish speakers are people who left their homes and crossed a desert on foot or locked in a box truck, to avoid civil wars in which our country funded and armed many of the combatants. then of course you have porta ricans, who are american citizens. and do you have any opinion on all the english speakers that once flooded across the border into mexican territory? do you remember the alamo? several of our southwestern states used to BE mexico. the US govt fought a war, and ended that war by signing a treaty promising no reprisals against ethnic mexicans in the region. a significant portion of this country used to be majority spanish speaking, and currently those states are about a third spanish speaking. history ebbs and flows, as does ignorance. i know some people say that everyones entitled to an opinion, but i disagree. please educate yourself – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_language_in_the_United_States

    4. Yet, when you travel to any other country, there is almost always an English option for the non-native speaker or traveler.

      Personally, I like learning other languages. Mandarin, Thai, German, and Icelandic!

  8. as a legal immigrant, i understand how hard the process to obtain legal residency here is. if ameirca didn’t make it SO troublesome, there wouldn’t be as many illegal immigrants.

    1. Yes but, your legal….there must be reasons why they make it difficult? Going to others countries all make it difficult with there government of protocol?

  9. I have two comments, the first re: the following:

    “This is because the “illegal” modifies the PERSON, and not the ACT. Furthermore, because we love abbreviations, we generally shorten the phrase and end up calling people “illegals.” This is very dehumanizing because it IMPLIES that someone’s very existence is illegal. And advocates of retiring that phrase like to say “no human being is ‘illegal. This is why the phrase “undocumented immigrant” is much favored, because it describes a person as someone who doesn’t have the proper authorization to be within these geographical borders, but nothing about HIM as a PERSON is illegal.”

    Sorry, but this kind of thinking is just plain nuts and uber P.C., and I say this as a liberal. No one calling illegal immigrants “illegals” is negating the PERSONHOOD of those individuals or saying that they have no right to exist. What rubbish. If you found that someone had entered your home illegally, would you describe him or her to the police as an “undocumented resident”? Is a person who drives without a license an “undocumented motorist”? Enough with this touchy-feely nonsense. People who enter the country illegally are human beings in every sense of the word, who are here ILLEGALLY. They are also ALIENS. “Immigrants” are those who come here legally, which is why we have a Dept. of IMMIGRATION.

    Secondly, in the past, immigrants brought their languages and cultures with them, but also made an effort to adapt and embrace American ways. Today, we see many legal immigrants KEEPING their cultures, creating parallel societies that exist beside the host society. I know people who have lived in the U.S. for years, who still do not speak English. Are they Americans? Yes, of course they are, but without integration, they cannot participate in all aspects of BEING American fully and equally. Some who loudly proclaim the need for racial integration, citing inequalities without it, are the same people who defend the “right” of immigrants to live in these “communities apart”. Instead of urging them to adapt and integrate, the “solution” is to give them permanent bilingual assistance in the form of government forms, telephone directory assistance, and television channels in their own languages. Sorry, but if separate but equal is wrong in racial terms, than it’s wrong in “citizen” terms too. We are only one people if we have common points of cultural intersection. People who come here legally and demand rights, for example, by marching in the street, waving the flag of their country of origin, work against this.

    1. Your inaccurate claim, because that’s what it is, that in the past when foreigners came to America they made an effort is completely unwarranted. Actually, whenever immigrant groups came into America, their tendency was to travel into the west (through incentives provided by the government) and establish posts so that America can expand. These communities were almost entirely excluded from American culture. This happened with Germans, and many other nationalities in the early 1800s when anti-Catholic sentiment was high. They formed, virtually, German-only communities with German newspapers, schools that mostly spoke German and had little interaction with the “native” population. The same thing happened in the cities. Ever heard of Chinatown? Communities like those were formed and interaction with other Americans was almost non-existent for a majority of its inhabitants.

      In terms of the rhetoric used to describe undocumented Americans, the personhood of the person that the term is being applied to is being negated. The reason is because you have to look at the context in which the term is used. Legality is ALWAYS used to describe the status of an object or to judge an action. The only time that term is applied to a human being is when it’s used in terms of immigration. Calling something illegal inherently labels the object/action (in this case, ‘person’) as undesirable, wrong, or immoral. Once that stigma is applied to the subject, you can justify doing things to that subject that you wouldn’t have done to them otherwise. This is seen in the conditions of undocumented Americans. The law only is applied to them when it must punish them but doesn’t offer any protections such as minimum wage, or protection from violence, or even due process protections; and even though they’re human beings, it’s justified because “they’re ‘illegal’ and the deserve it”. To not acknowledge that the rhetoric used to describe groups has an impact on the situation is completely undermining the power of language.

      And also, those last two sentences represent an extremely dangerous idea that are the EXACT same, racist reasons that immigration laws were first introduced in the late-1800s to the Chinese from immigrating to America. When those laws were enacted, the justification was that the Chinese would “lower the American standard” and that they made no honest effort to interact with the native populations. Nobody is asking for “separate but equal”. In fact, what you’re implying by those last two sentences can be characterized as being just as dangerous. You’re saying that anyone who comes into America must become like you (which is extremely arbitrary and vague), rather than you embracing the protests with signs in the middle of the street that is asking for the inclusion of there culture. America is a country that is often referred to as the “melting pot of cultures”, but what people like you fail to realize is that it doesn’t only mean that foreigners must assimilate, it also means that American citizens can adopt and provide assistance to other populations have their cultures included.

  10. What an excellent topic, Boston University, and I am proudly an Immigrant Worker, here is my point of view, whether you like it or not, be my guess to hate, haters makes me famous :)
    Let’s begin defining what is immigrant:

    immigrant [ˈɪnˌmaɪgrənt]
    coming in from another area of the same country an immigrant worker
    an immigrant person or animal

    But, in the end, we are all immigrants or descendents of immigrants, on doubt, please be my guess to review history and call Christopher Columbus and the Norse, the biggest ocean travelers the world has ever and will known, liars, here is the article for your review:



    Christopher Columbus:


    If you think falsely you are an full blood American, excuse me if I laugh non-stop for your ignorance, but the only ones whom can call themselves and have the right to own this land as theirs are the indigenous Native Americans, history again, where are they now? Native reservations, why? of course the wars and the slaughter of the “colonizers of the new world”, the Europeans “brave soldiers” armed with rifles and cannons against spears and arrows, the perfect crime/genocide on history, here for your review:



    Justice? well dear reader, here is something for you to think of, you kill 100, you are a mass murder, you kill 10000, you are a genocide, you kill 250.000 and more uncounted for, you are a conqueror, ironic isn’t? going back to the point, as far as I know, history again, allow me to recall the most beautiful ever written document on human history and the writer, a true genius of course, ladies and gentlemen, without any further delay, I give you Thomas Jefferson and his biggest creation: The US Declaration of Independence:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

    Well, where this goes you may ask? in synthesis, we are all human, we all have the same rights as others, if I break your knees, you will scream on brutal pain, so will do any other person, if you have sex with a top-model, you will be in heaven, so will any other person, the issue here are simply politics, discrimination and racism, nobody is better than anyone yet we all are one and the same, if you think falsely that you are better than anyone else, please wake up, feet on the ground and clear your mind of those mundane irrational thoughts, united we stand, divided we fall, as for jobs and other issues, well, if you are capable to work and have what does it take to perform the work, the education and skills, so be it, it matters not where and when you came forth into this world, matters your capabilities and dexterity to perform such labor, your education and skills, not your nationality, justice is never personal, have you see the lady justice? there is a reason why she is blind folded. Also, you may say, the taxes, well, let’s facilitate the legal documents and lets make it easy to become US citizen, let the people who want to work, work, the other lazy people, although citizens or not, will be better for them just have never even been born, this of course is my personal criteria here.

    Feel free to hate or love, don’t know, don’t care

  11. I just want 2 know who the moderator is? I would like to have a name to sue, reason being? violation for the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution, freedom of speech.

    1. Wow. Gave the moderator a whole 30 minutes during prime-time lunch hour, huh? What could they possibly be thinking?!?!?! Guess they’re lucky it wasn’t a weekend, and SO lucky they weren’t sleeping. You could be raking them over the coals for their house, first-born child, charging them with murder. Stupid moderator…..

  12. I would first like to comment on the terminology used. I understand why people use the term “illegal” but it is “Alien” that bothers me. These people are human being and classifying them as Aliens is term that derives from some of the darkest and hidden times in American history during the Chinese concentration camps. This term was not chosen because these people were immigrants but because of their facial features. Today it continues to dehumanize those who do contribute to the country.

    Secondly, part of the pride of this country is its ability to maintain it’s political stability, economic strength (although it’s been falling in the last ten years) and internal peace regardless of the multi-ethnic identities that characterize it. In fact it is this multi-ethnic and multi-cultural characterization that makes the U.S. so great. Although I do believe that all immigrants (regardless of their legal status)should learn English, the government should provide those resources. This is an investment that would benefit the country. Yes, it would come out of tax-payer’s money but it will increase efficiency in a vast array of sectors. With that being said, I don’t believe that people should leave their traditions and cultures behind simply because they have migrated. What is the American culture anyway- consumerist and materialist? I’d much rather have the plurality of Asians, Europeans, Africans, Latin Americans, among others to learn from and grow from than from a superficial identity that truly is not even clear what it is.

    People migrate for an numerous number of reasons. Some do it because they would like to travel others because of careers of families. Unfortunately the discriminatory process makes it much more difficult for those who need to come to the U.S. for survival (yes some do come for survival)to come here legally. Depending on the country of origin, skills, and financial situation, the process can be impossible to undergo successfully. Not all people come here to build an honest life and some are criminals and a burden but the majority aren’t. It is important to keep in mind that the U.S. has supported many or the regimes that have put immigrants in a bad position at all and they do hold SOME responsibility.

    For those who claim they are natural Americans. It saddens me to see such ignorance. No, your ancestors did not come here legally nor did they obtain the land that they colonized legally either. If the Trail of Tears means nothing to you nor the mass genocides that occurred and stolen land that was acquired then yet again the American education system has proven it’s self again incompetent. We need to learn to be tolerant and get the back story to what’s being put out there because the media can be a blessed but vicious thing and everything we hear and see is not true.

  13. It is quite a scene to watch people from a first world country be so anchored to stupid concepts of people that suggest such things as “alien” or “illegal immigrant” to be four letter words. It is time to denote some kind of education level on this sight so as to not shame us in a world platform. To suggest such terms as “undocumented” be used to refer to ILLEGAL immigrants that are very well documented with falsified documents (another criminal offence)is a clear dipiction of the ignorance in which so many Americans live. To spend time debating terms that mean what they were meant to mean just to soften a serious problem of our country is stupid. Illegal immigrants are just that, ILLEGAL.

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