All we know about Immigrant Rights

Throughout the semester, research on immigrant rights has produced many insightful results, both positive and negative. Social media research shows that the major supporters of the immigration rights movement aligned themselves with the Hillary Clinton campaign. The opponents aligned with the Trump/Pence campaign, referring to the Republican candidates’ future policies to curb the uncontrollable immigration into the country and enforce the current immigration laws. The major hashtags have evolved during the semester, especially with the election results and the aftermath of those results. The hashtags used in the movement include #SaveDACA, #SaveDACA&DAPA, #ImmigrationReform, #HereToStay, #IAmAnImmigrant, #UndocumentedAndUnafraid among others. The major issues discussed went from a large sphere to a more concentrated one focused on the promises that the President-elect made during his election campaign.

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The major key players in the movement are mostly celebrities and prominent non-governmental organizations. Most of these users utilize an integration of all the main social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) by spreading the same information through each of them. These include Julissa Arce, Undocumedia, Wilmer Valderrama, America Ferrera, Diane Guerrero and Ana Navarro. These famous stars use their status to spread awareness for the cause. For example, the television show NCIS (starring Wilmer Valderrama) recently released an episode that touched on the struggles of undocumented immigrants. Ana Navarro, a news anchor, has recently risen to more fame during the election period because she openly shared and defended her views about the presidential candidates on talk shows. Many social media supporters refer to her and her outspoken bravery when it comes to the immigrant rights movement. On Twitter, other organizations such as Welcome_us, United We Stay, DreamBigVegas, United We Dream and America’s Voice with over 26k followers each use their profiles to promote conferences and information that would be substantial for undocumented citizens. Some media profiles dedicated to general revolutionary campaigns such as #NoDAPL, #BLM, #LGBTQRights support the immigrant rights campaign because they believe that supporting each other would bring more unity and increase their outreach.

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One strategy that has made the campaign successful is the collective use of passion and relatability in spreading awareness. These tactics are evident to people who go through their social media profiles. The advocates of the movement are subtle in delivering their messages while stressing on educating people about the obstacles that undocumented immigrants face. They post stories of successful undocumented immigrants with the aim of inspiring current struggling immigrants. They also use videos that depict the main struggles of undocumented Americans that every individual can relate to. Compared to the usage of memes and anger by the opponents of the movement, these methods are efficient in building sympathy with people. With these strategies, they can easily have conversational threads with individuals who are willing to understand their stories. Also, utilizing active protests rather than passive-aggressive methods seems more efficient because it gives supporters a chance to participate and explain their cause to observers.

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Topics brought up by the movement have been stable over the semester, with more emphasis on the policies that Trump promises to place into effect upon his assumption of office. One major issue they highlight in this movement is equal opportunities for all, insisting that the American economy is built by undocumented immigrants and their families. They assert that immigrants strive to improve the quality of the country’s present state. Advocates argue that the law only permits undocumented immigrants to take up the “dirty jobs” that most American citizens reject. Their argument for equal opportunities also includes fair access to higher education, especially for the children of immigrants and appropriate tuition payment resources. Another pressing topic is the increasing deportation law-abiding undocumented immigrants and separation of families. The supporters of the movement explain that many undocumented immigrants escaped persecution in their home countries. Therefore, taking them back there is a violation of human rights because that insinuates that the government has no regard for their lives. In addition to this issue, the American judicial system continues to deny representation to children facing deportation. The American Civil Liberties Union argues that this situation does not create a level playing field for the children. They are not given a chance to defend their cases for asylum especially in cases where there is a violence threat in their home countries. It is shocking that the courts would put the children in these situations since it is impossible for little children to face-off well-trained lawyers. With all these happenings, the Supreme Court remains divided on rights of immigrants facing deportation. They are deadlocked in the decision over how long immigrants facing deportation can be detained without court hearings.

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On behalf of the undocumented immigrants, United We Stay drafted a Bill of Rights, which they presented to Congress with the hopes that it would be the framework of every immigration decision made going forward. With immigration reform as a top priority of the President-elect, supporters of Immigration Rights are hopeful that this could initiate the passing of a comprehensive immigration reform Bill by the American government. This Bill of Rights highlights the key items they expect from the American people and its government – equal protection under the law, citizenship, deferred action, legal residency, visas and migrant worker programs. Hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, many advocates continue to distribute sources that highlight the rights of these immigrants per the American constitution.

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The most interesting find through research on the topic of immigrant rights is their use of innovative methods to bring awareness about their cause. One example is the organization of Walk/Run events to increase awareness. Rather than sticking to posting relatable stories and articles, this inventive method shows their eagerness to spread awareness through selfless acts. This was surprising because Walk/Run events are usually associated with awareness of diseases and health conditions such as AIDS, Alzheimer’s Disease, etc.  Although this approach is relatively new to me because it has not been publicized by the media, one group carried on the 15-year tradition of doing an international relay run from Mexico City, Mexico to New York. Their main aim is to get people to understand the meaning of faith and hope – the faith that these immigrants have in the government to implement better immigration reform policies that would best benefit them. Advocates of this movement also use WordPress to reach out to the vast number of people that spend a lot of time on blogs. With this method, they can target the newer generations that value reading and writing blogs. Another interesting thing found during research is that some universities e.g. Bronx University, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, St. Joseph’s University, Notre Dame University etc. are openly releasing statements about their support for undocumented Americans, despite the growing opposition to the existence of these “illegal aliens.”

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In this era of new media, advocates of immigrant rights hold a particular power using the internet as a playground for their activism. It is easier for them to spread awareness quicker because information on the web and major social media outlets spread quickly. They also have the power to control what they put out on the media but do not have the authority to control anyone else’s access to the content they share. The advocates use this power to make their movement become a consistent topic in the sphere of legitimate controversy, especially in anticipation of the new presidency. New media also gives people the power to sway other people’s decisions. E.g. in the case of joining the bandwagon on supporting immigrant rights. If one’s social media feed is flooded with information about immigrant rights, the person would be encouraged to find out more about the movement and be more inclined to support it. Overall, new media increases the power that everyone on the internet feels they have.

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