A Child Cries, Another Dies: Exploitation of the American Dream
By Joseph R. Uliano, M.A., Ed.S.

Is the “American Dream” still possible for immigrants seeking a new way of life in the United States, or has it become the “American Nightmare” due to an irresponsible political agenda feeding fabricated propaganda to those wanting to cross our southern border? Historically, America’s first immigrants, settlers if you will, came to the United States of their own free will, dating as far back as 1620 when the Pilgrims fled Europe seeking a safe haven to practice their religion. Following the first expedition, more immigrants fled from Europe for entrepreneurial opportunities, as many of them envisioned spreading their wealth far greater than they could ever imagine in Europe.

For those with the financial means, immigrating to America was the most appropriate solution for those who wanted to live free, practice their faith without governmental control and increase their personal wealth. However, what about those who didn’t have the financial means? Do those impoverished dream less? Do those with less need and want less? Of course not! In fact, they dream more and need more than those living a more productive life. With the wealthy realizing this, they began taking advantage of the less fortunate by forcing them into becoming indentured servants; men, women, and children given a free passage to the United States in exchange for working for free, often enduring harsh conditions, inadequate housing and abuse. Often, those seeking entry into the United States were kidnapped and forced into labor, while others were convicted criminals who belonged to a forgotten society, who simply vanished into a lifetime of unpaid labor. So, in a sense, illegal immigration in United States was taking place as far back as the 1600s.

By the late 1600s and early 1700s, there was another massive influx of immigrants coming to the United States, but once again this population was not doing it on their own free will, as thousands of African slaves were rounded up and imported, motivated by the greed of our white settlers, who imprisoned them into a lifetime of harsh labor with no reward. The importation of slaves continued into the 1800s, and the act of slavery wasn’t abolished until the Civil War of 1865. We will never know the exact number of imported slaves due to their undocumented status, but it’s estimated to be over a half a million, and that only pertains to those who survived the substandard conditions of the hulls they were housed in while being shipped to the United States.

With immigration increasing and laws being established, Ellis Island was constructed during the late 1800s, legally accepting millions of documented immigrants mostly from Europe up until the mid-1950s, which helped ease the transition process to the new world and the start of a new beginning, not saying that life was easy for the newly arriving immigrants, because it was not, as many were forced to live in ethnically segregated ghettos that were by no means considered a sanctuary, but nonetheless they were legally accepted.

Today, the term “sanctuary” has become overly exploited, which is misleading those across the southern border and tricking them into believing that an oasis of hope is waiting for them on the other side, but anyone following the recent developments coming from the border knows that couldn’t be any further from the truth. Developments such as caravans of starving and ill migrants being illegally trafficked along the border, supported by the harrowing images of crying children, some accompanied by their parents and some aimlessly wandering alone among the masses have inundated our news. Other recent developments have included the deaths of 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo and 7-year-old Jackelin Caal, both succumbing to the harsh conditions of their journey along the white desert sands of Mexico in two separate incidents during December of 2018. Politicians supporting sanctuary states and the caravans of migrants will attempt to lead the American people into believing that the U.S. Border Patrol is responsible for these tragic and unfortunate deaths, but according to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Border Patrol agents have seen an increase of sickness among the migrants crossing over into the United States, suggesting that sickness may be spreading among the encampments located in Mexico, long before reaching the border. In a statement following Alonzo’s death, Nielsen released a statement saying, “I once again ask, beg parents to not place their children at risk by taking the journey north,” but with the support of some U.S. lawmakers welcoming them, Nielsen’s plea is falling on deaf ears.

Unfortunately, it appears that history is repeating itself in terms of the harsh conditions of illegal immigration, as we can compare Latin Americans to the Europeans who were forced into becoming indentured servants, who will work for next to nothing to feed their starving families, or worse, they can be compared to the slaves of Africa, forced into human trafficking, feeding the illegal underground of slave labor and the barbaric sex trade, often involving children. The only noticeable difference here is rather than being transported via inhumane ship bottoms, they are being transported in the backs of rental trucks or in the inferno of a stifling trunk in a broken-down vehicle.

As we enter into a new year, the debate of immigration increases, motivated by should we or should we not build a wall. I’m not saying this debate should be taken lightly, but while the contemplation continues more children are left crying, with some even dying, and without a more secured border more will take the journey with the false hope that the American Dream awaits them.

Joe Uliano has served as a police officer for over fifteen years, and is assigned as field training officer and departmental instructor. He is currently a Doctoral Candidate in Education at Seton Hall University, where he also earned an Educational Specialist Degree (Ed.S.) in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Management. Prior to earning this advanced degree, he also earned a Master’s Degree in Human Resources, Training, and Development and a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice.