Leyzerovych: National scandal: Reflections on Trump’s immigration policies, nation’s sovereignty

Opinion Column: American Insights

For the past eight years I have been continuously bombarded — but in all truth I have bombarded myself out of sheer curiosity and a bit of philosophical masochism — with a hail of sociocultural conundrums regarding my existence as an immigrant in modern America. 

I realize that no matter the degree of my obsession with comprehending the intricacy of The (oh yes, it is certainly with a capital “T”) American Ethos, and in conjunction my desire to fully immerse myself into its spirit, I will never be granted the ability to, as I am so inherently aware of its existence. Certainly, I am a citizen of the U.S. as of last August. I have made plenty of memorable friendships through high school and plan to do so in college, and as from experience speak and write in English better than some of my peers. 

Still, I have come to understand that the intellectualization of one’s role in a collective environment only estranges that person as the prospect of total participation requires a level of unconsciousness. Through the words of the Canadian literary critic Sacvan Bercovitch in his American sociocultural exploration "The Ritual of Consensus," I was able to identify my state: “I felt like Sancho Panza in a land of Don Quixotes.”

My inherent distance and thus consciousness of the American way has granted me a safe haven of total subjectivity over the motions of this county’s culture and politics. Total is a hyperbole, and as much as I despise those, I will allow myself an exception. 

For relativity to my politically-involved peers, as I have come to observe, those peers that have chosen to fling themselves either port or starboard (a la Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) or President Donald J. Trump), completely engulfed by political polarization, I am rather reasonable. And the topic that has poised me with the most vicious intercultural tug-of-war has been the situation at the southern border. 

To postulate that I completely identify with those Latin-American immigrants would be untrue, even coming from me. I do not know the ramifications of walking a distance spanning the Central-American region, I do not know the heat of the Senora or the Chihuahua or the Coahuila states and I do not know the spine-wrenching fear of being raped or taken hostage by cartel members. 

I come from eastern Europe (I am Ukrainian-Jewish). I was raised by highly educated parents that were rabid anti-nationalists who despised the sterilized frigidness promoted by the Communist regime of their youth. I came to New Jersey for economic, ideological and educational reasons. I would not have starved, have I never left. 

Still, I can completely identify with the clawing oblivion of international, inter-cultural and inter-linguistic transportation, and the loss of footing and the slap of a certain human status to which you prescribe yourself but which slips through your fingers like sand in the face of the calamity of immigration. 

My ambivalence on the issue though, is inextinguishable, and from my experience has raised some eyebrows and has turned some well-meaning heads. Considering what I have described previously, I cannot ignore the legality of my existence in this country. 

I cannot ignore the memories of my parents’ sleepless nights, remedial (shaky-voiced) calls to already naturalized American friends, piles of forms on the floor, tears of frustration, visa approvals and letters of recommendation to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from my parents’ bosses. All in the name of honoring the American way, and to a degree honoring ourselves for having the guts to get involved in its complexities. 

So when I see thousands of Latin-American immigrants cross the border with zero allegiance to immigration services, I become upset and quite offended. And I cannot help but to support Trump’s rigid enforcement of immigration laws and ICE raids. And that is why I view family separations in Mississippi not as corruption of the current administration, but as the tragic result of a risk that illegal immigrants decided to put their families into, now being punished for their ignorance of the law. 

Because the great and inescapable reality of every migrant generation is the necessity to rip a chunk of yourself off, kiss it goodbye and present it to the ethos of the country of your destination. Legal immigration makes you do that, and rightfully so, because only through that process does a country maintain its core standards while also enriching itself with auxiliary culturalization. 

That is what John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and many others committed treason for by signing the Declaration of Independence. That is what defines a truly sovereign nation. 

Yan Leyzervych is a Rutgers Business School first-year majoring in Finance. His column, “American Insights,” runs on alternate Tuesdays.


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