Walls and Bridges—Two Sides of America
(Reflection from World Refugee Day Celebration and Operation Streamline)
On this Tuesday, I went to World Refugee Day Celebration in Catalina High School. On this Thursday, I went to attend Operation Streamline in Evo A. DeConcini U.S. Courthouse. I saw people accepted as US citizens in the former event and I saw people kicked out of the US in the latter event. Participating in both events, I witnessed the two very different sides of America.
On one side, US build bridges to accept outsiders who suffer from wars and violence. The Naturalization Ceremony in World Refugee Day Celebration was an act of building bridges and reaching out to the refugees from all over the world. It was a beautiful moment; after a long journey of searching for a home, the refugees finally have found one. By accepting them as US citizens, the US was embracing the true meaning of diversity.
One the other side, US build walls to expel outsiders and put up a barricade to keep them away. Operation Streamline was a process of building walls against the “illegal aliens” (an actual term people use to describe undocumented immigrants) to prevent them from entering the US. By sentencing them of months in prison and deporting them, the US was solidifying the division between insiders and outsiders.
Walls divide. Walls discriminate. Whether it is an actual wall like the humongous border wall between US-Mexico, or an imaginative wall like glass ceilings against minorities, the more walls we build, the deeper the segregation gets. Our tendency to ostracize outsiders has laid numerous problems such as racial profiling, discrimination against immigrants and refugees, and social alienation of the colored. And I blame the walls we set for discrimination against the underdogs that perpetuates our society.
“It is time to build the bridges,” said Dr. H. T. Sanchez in the opening remarks of World Refugee Day Celebration. And I can’t agree more—if diversity is what keeps the United States strong, it needs to accept people with different wisdom and cultures with open arms, as opposed to building walls and militarizing borders.
The discourse of insider vs. outsider never gets old; it is a problem that is too pervasive that most people overlook and grow desensitized. Yet if we keep strive to bring up the absurdity of discrimination against outsiders and build more bridges instead of setting walls up, I believe that that the day when everybody can appreciate the value of diversity will come. With more bridge-building, people from all over the world can make this country richer and more prosperous.
~Da Eun, summer PR intern