Immigrants have become the backbone of America. More than any other nation in history, the United States has made itself a new home for immigrants seeking a better life. It embraces those who come to this country in search of the promises and opportunities of the American Dream. Drawn to the possibilities of a free society, creative spirits have come to this great nation and have flourished in its creative openness.
What makes America such a great country? Why is it the land of the free, home of the brave? For more than 200 years, people from all over the globe have come to America to seek freedom and opportunity causing immigrants to become a strong force in the fibers of this country.
In 2013, the state of immigration and societal segregation took on a futuristic look as moviegoers around the world took in the science fiction thriller “Elysium.” Amid stars Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, issues like political revolt, health care, and even class-ism were front and center. The film that promised to be a summer blockbuster quickly doubled as a wake-up cry for the maladies facing the current state of the nation.
Set on futuristic earth in 2154, “Elysium” revealed the great divide between two classes of people. On the surface of the earth, a war torn and ravaged land is occupied by those considered impoverished, diseased, and overpopulated individuals. Miles above the earth, in a purified and contained sphere known as Elysium, is a place where the rich and powerful enjoy a life free from such ailments. In fact, there is not a trace of sickness anywhere. On Elysium, residents are afforded all the amenities money can buy including medical chambers that with the flip of a switch can rid the body of every illness. Life is good for them but just as social classes have collided in the present day, Elysium is about to receive a wake-up call.
Over the past 20 years, America has endured a phenomenon called Immigration Law. Each year, a Diversity Visa Lottery, which grants citizens of other countries legal entry into the United States, has taken place. A storm of debate over immigration status has been a constant companion of the last three presidential elections. This very subject created a chasm right down the middle of the land.
On one side are those advocating for immigration reform that addresses pertinent issues around those both born in the country having illegal immigrant parents and those seeking a sort of asylum with Americans from unbearable conditions in their own homeland. Far on the other side, are citizens who feel as though this country belongs to Americans who can read and speak the native language. Their devotion to their country seems to fuel harshness in dealing with what they call “foreigners” or immigrants.
With such strong feelings from both views, it is no wonder so much debate surrounds President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Truth is, no matter how the theory is sliced, immigrants are the backbone of America.
Without revealing the intricate plot development of “Elysium,” for those who have never seen it, an ensuing revolt takes place. In other words, the two classes meet in a head-on collision. It is clear that the goal of Neill Blomkamp’s movie was to spark necessary conversation. Some of the observations one can derive from “Elysium” are the following:
- Everyone, no matter his or her social standings are dreaming of the same thing… a better life.
- Socialism and its results are a problem in America that is not going anywhere.
- If something is not done soon, people will do whatever they deem necessary to survive.
The debate on whether immigrants are the backbone of America has heightened in lieu many obvious truths. These transplants have played a huge role in the growth and sustainability of this nation. Important factors such as the food industry would suffer, job creation would decrease, and Social Security would take a hit cannot be overlooked.
The reality is the country’s borders are overrun, the health care structure has begun to buckle under the billions of dollars defaulted yearly to provide coverage for those who are unfortunate and have no means to repay. America is hemorrhaging as a nation and a collapse is imminent. “Elysium” is such a worthy film to help nudge along a dialogue, especially as Trump prepares to deport and uproot so many from a land that they have called home.
“Elysium” may appear to be a simple sci-fi film but it is so much more than that. This film, whether intended or not, greatly mirrors the life of the immigrant who yearns for the opportunities of Americans who have been granted life in the Promised Land. Immigrants will always suffer from societal bias and prejudice, but America would suffer even more if it lost this crucial part of its makeup.
Immigrants have always been part of the American experiment, and no matter how politicized they become, Americans cannot forget how much this country owes to each and every person – past and present – who came here for a chance at a better life. Immigrants are the backbone of America and have contributed greatly to the framework of this great country.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
NY Times: Trump Moves to End DACA and Calls on Congress to Act
Top Image Courtesy of Susan Melkisethian’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Britt Selvitelle’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Image by John Zangas Courtesy of Vision Planet Media’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License