John F. Kennedy once said, “Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.” Nowadays for many immigrants, “The Land of Opportunity,” has been a land of violence, discrimination and cruelty. The perception of Americans toward immigrants has shaped the way we treat others. Do people’s perceptions toward immigrants change as the amount of exposure is increased? By making personal connections with an immigrant and their story, people would appreciate differences and other countries that shape who they are.  

As of 2017, there were about 44.5 million immigrants in the U.S., and about 45 percent have college degrees. Immigrants mainly live in California, New York, New Jersey, Florida and Texas. Their main purpose is to have better opportunities for work and school or to seek asylum. Their presence in our country has been a major, positive influence in our society.  

 Some Americans fail to realize how privileged we are to be a land of immigrants. As of 2017, immigrants made up 13.7 percent of the United States population. In the article, “A Biblical View of Immigrants,” it states, “If we approach immigration and, more importantly, immigrants themselves purely from a political perspective, we will fail to live up to the Great Commission responsibility.” Christian perception toward immigrants calls us to treat all with a Christ-like love. It calls us to pray for immigrants and officials that they will be blessed with wisdom. Many Americans realize our current immigration policy is not working. People agree we should come together for a solution that will no longer harm people. We would not be able to spread Christ-like love, if we only look at the differences.  

Our freedom of speech helps us to convey our ways of thinking. For example, immigration has caused many Americans to be vocal because of their strong opinions about immigrants. Most Americans believe immigration has helped our country.  In an article by Patricia Smith it states, “Their talents have helped make us the pre-eminent society in the world in terms of higher and advanced research.” Immigrants such as Albert Einstein and Levi Strauss have helped shaped the United States because of their brilliance. The education that comes from different countries helps our economy create new ideas. Based on the article “The Foreign-Born with Science and Engineering Degrees: 2010,” immigrants make up 33 percent of engineers, 27 percent of mathematicians, and 24 percent of physical scientists in this country. Without the help of immigrants, Google, Bing, or Intel never would have been created. The immigrants’ minds have not only helped the United States, but have helped the entire world.  

Perceiving immigrants based on hatred will do nothing but harm our society. If we continue to judge others who have a right to freedom, then the ways God showed us will never be brought to life. The freedom we have should not be taken for granted. Recognizing immigrants as people and learning the truth will help create a world that is both balanced and loved. 

  Alexa Mondelo is the eighth-grade valedictorian for All Saints Catholic Academy.