With the 2016 Presidential election fast approaching, one topic has been a major talking point: immigration.
Things came to a head earlier this summer when Donald Trump sparked public outrage with a series of disparaging remarks towards Mexicans. Since then, politicians from every corner have been lining up on their side of the fence and declaring their beliefs and attitudes towards immigration. This week, the current President of the United States Barack Obama laid out his feelings.
"Unless you are a Native American, your family came from someplace else," he said.
"And although we are a nation of laws and we want people to follow the laws... don't pretend that somehow 100 years ago the immigration process was all smooth and strict; that's now how it worked."
President Obama's comments about border security and the immigration process come at a time when many feel our borders are too porous or our processes too convoluted. In 2014, America saw 67,339 unaccompanied minors apprehended while trying to cross the border.
But American opinion on what to do with these immigrants is actually quite complex.
Several Pew research studies have shown that most Americans (72 percent) have no interest in spending the time or resources on deporting the 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants currently living in America. Still, despite President Obama's comments, in his term deportations have been on the rise, which has consequently divided the country on whether that increase is good or bad. 45 percent of Americans called it a good thing while an equal amount opposed, and the rest were left undecided.
"The notion that somehow we would not welcome their desire to be full-fledged parts of this community and this country and to contribute, and to serve, makes absolutely no sense."
Presidential candidates like Trump and Scott Walker have advocated for fences on both our northern and southern borders. Their rhetoric has sparked another conversation —if how each political party is treating immigrants will have a strong effect on who wins the 2016 Presidential race.
"Trump's entrance into race made it so that they had to discuss it whether they wanted to or not," Republican political consultant Reed Galen told NPR. "Latinos, who at [that] time might have been with the Republicans on any number of issues, be it the economy or social issues, thought, well, if this is something you're going to be for, then you probably don't like me."
Apparently, Obama saw the recent rise in anti-immigrant sentiment as a time to remind almost all Americans where they came from, and how we've already lived in a time when all immigrants were treated poorly.
"Suddenly we are treating new immigrants as if they're the problem when your grandparents were treated like the problem, or your great-grandparents were treated like the problem, or were considered somehow unworthy, or uneducated, or unwashed? No. That's not who we are," Obama said.