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Two FTHS Juniors Win Freehold Democratic Club Essay Contest

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Juniors Ally Knighton and Tommy Malek were recognized by the Freehold Democratic Club as winners in their 2015 Essay Contest.

Knighton earned first prize and $300 for her essay titled “Face of Immigration.” Malek earned third prize and $100.  Both essays can be read below.

 

“Face of Immigration” by Ally Knighton

The Melting Pot, a delicious restaurant where many go to kebob and soiree with fondue, but also the nickname for the United States, earned through years of diversity and people locking to the American Dream. However, when we consider Immigration in our communities, the face is often of disgust, of a sour taste entering the mouth of the population. Nativism, an ideal showing itself and finding its way into the minds of many stubborn and old fashioned Americans, includes the idea that we should favor those indigenous to a country. In America, while the face of immigration is Mexican, it is important to redefine and help those America has masked with the Face of Immigration.

In the 1700’s, the first wave of voluntary immigration occurred when Calvinism took over and religious persecution against the Catholics and Puritans occurred in Europe. So, settlers packed up and instead of Bel-Air, they settled along the East Coast of what is now known as the original colonies. Flash forward about 120 years; now thousands of Germans, Irish, and Chinese are coming to major port cities and settling down in the states. Ironically, those who immigrated and drove out an entire indigenous population are now detesting those who have tried to follow.

In present times, we have managed to execute this same level of unintentional irony. Mexican immigrants have now earned the nicknames such as “aliens” and “illegals” for trying to escape the extreme corruption and persecution from their government, which sounds a lot like why the Puritans traveled here for. Except, Mexicans are not regarded as people trying to find a better life; now they are assumed criminals and are just trying to swindle “legal” citizens out of their hard earned tax dollars.

Yet, there is hope for Mexicans and others tired of having to hide in the shadows. With a new plan in the works, immigrants of all races and ethnicities are being offered a new lease on life. Immigrants who have been in the country and in our very home in Freehold Township for more than three years and are free of a criminal record are eligible to become citizens including all children they may have which could only have a positive effect on our community as a whole. Allowing immigrants to obtain citizenship would create more job opportunities, close the poverty gap, increase government revenue, and stop perpetrating anti-Mexican culture in many Americans today.

Considering jobs, the immigrants, and the economy, it is proven that legalizing “illegal” immigration would ultimately benefit our economy on a mass scale. For example, the political scientists behind the 1986 Immigration and Reform Care Act where almost 11.7 million immigrants earned citizenship, found immigrant wages rose and put more money into circulation to boost our economy. Following the new act, University of Michigan did a study in 2002 and found that wages increased by six percent which means that while it would not lift the current generation out of poverty, the extra money and new opportunities for jobs with citizenship would provide doorways for higher education and eventually lead the next few generations out of poverty at a steady and safe rate for the economy (Wainer). Every community would be affected positively by the closing of a wage gap, especially in our district because New Jersey is one of six states in the U.S. that accounts for 60% of the country’s undocumented immigrants (Krogstad and Passel).

Another plus for our community is tax revenue, specifically local tax revenue. Based on an Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy study, on average State Income tax would rise by 1.6 billion while regular local revenue would increase by 2 billion . For our entire country, the total revenue would be around 10.6 billion directly to our governments (Fox).

Additionally, this is not to say that immigrants do not pay taxes to our government already, a common myth many use to degrade immigrants already in the country. Undocumented people in this country already generate 20 billion a year in income tax (Anchondo). If immigrants were offered citizenship, these myths would be disproven, recognized as false, and would help stop the spreading of the anti-immigration ideas many Americans, especially conservative lawmakers, have. Also, over 7% of children in preschool have at least one parent who is considered an illegal citizen (Krogstad and Patel). Often, these children grow up isolated and it is proven that children who grow up with undocumented parents are less likely to graduate high school (Yu Hsi-Lee). When these children and young adults have parents who are citizens in U.S., it allows them to access higher education and more progressive jobs. In our community, it would heighten educational success and decrease the dropout rate, helping end stereotypes by increasing the educational success rate of young Mexican citizens.

In conclusion, America has wrongfully grafted Mexican immigrants on to the Face of Immigration. Despite America’s beginning and the fact immigration rates are under those of 200 years ago, there is still a negative connotation and attitude towards those that come into the country undocumented. However, legalizing immigrants already in the country would completely reinvent the way our society looks at the ever growing Mexican population, make more jobs, increase revenue, and create higher wages. After all, the Face of Immigration is ever changing, but America must change with it.

 

 

Anchondo, Leo. “Top 10 Myths About Immigration.” Top 10 Myths About Immigration.

American Immigration Council, 2010. Web. 20 May 2015.

 

Fox, Lauren. US News. U.S.News & World Report, n.d. Web. 21 May 2015.

 

Krogstad, Jens Manuel, and Jeffrey S. Passel. “5 Facts about Illegal Immigration in the U.S.”

Pew Research Center RSS. N.p., 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 21 May 2015.

 

Wainer, Andrew. “Legalizing Immigrants Can Help Reduce Poverty.” The Huffington Post.

TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 21 May 2015.

 

Yu Hsi-Lee, Esther. “How Parents’ Immigration Status Can Affect A Kid’s Grades.”

ThinkProgress RSS. N.p., 31 May 2013. Web. 21 May 2015.

 

Essay by Tommy Malek 

Tommy Malek receiving his prize for his third place entry by a representative from the  Freehold Democratic Club.

Tommy Malek receiving his prize for his third place entry by a representative from the Freehold Democratic Club.

American. What exactly does that mean? Well to some it represents a person who signifies freedom and liberty. To others it embodies a person who once lived in a different country, but eventually found his way to America in hopes of starting a new life. America is special because it signifies the concept that different people and cultures are able to come together to create one unified country. The amazing part of this large puzzle known as America is that all of it, from the people living in its cities, to the food cooked in its restaurants, is all based off of one simple, fundamental concept- immigration. The process a person goes through to leave their country of origin and travel all the way to America, all in the hopes that the life they will find here will be better than the life they left behind. While the process of immigration may be rather simple to understand, that doesn’t mean that the role it plays in our society and our community is also simple. In fact, immigration plays an incredibly important role in our community. For example, imagine your favorite food dish. Maybe you enjoy spaghetti and meatballs, or maybe you like falafel, some people may even prefer croissants. These things, as well as countless other dishes that you love to eat on a daily basis, all find their origins from other countries. It’s because of immigration that we have some of these amazing dishes which contain so many different tastes and flavors. However, immigration doesn’t only play a major role in the foods we eat. Immigration also plays a major role in the shaping and development of some our country’s most important and well-established traditions. Even since colonial times, immigration has served as a way for America to develop new and important traditions which are still in practice today. When Germans first immigrated to America, they brought with them Kindergarten, the Christmas tree, and much more. Some of the things that we take for granted today, are things which only exist in the country because immigration brought these traditions to the New World. Again, I direct your attention to the Christmas tree, brought all the way from Germany to America through the process of immigration. This one tradition has become a centerpiece of one of the most major and important holidays of the entire year- Christmas. All the memories, laughs, and good times people get when they choose and decorate a Christmas tree wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the process of immigration. Beyond all of this, Immigration also serves as a way to bring people from different backgrounds together. Now, at first, this may not seem very important. Why does it matter that a person born in Egypt and a person born in Russia now have a chance to talk and interact with one another? It’s because it allows for new ideas and concepts to be created. While every country may have relatively the same technology, machines, and ideas, that doesn’t mean that they are exactly the same. If a person from one country has slightly more advanced technology, while a person from another country has slightly more advanced ideas and thoughts, but not the technology to work with, then all it takes is for those two people to meet. Suddenly the only thing standing in the way from something beautiful being born is the interaction of two people who could very possibly be on opposite sides of the world, but what if they both immigrated to America? What if on a random day, in a random store those two people met? They could create something beautiful, something so amazing that it could change the world. All it would take is for those two people to travel to America, to get closer and closer to one another. Now I’ll admit that it would take quite a few coincidences for those two people to meet once they got to America, but is it really that difficult to imagine? Sometimes the most beautiful things in the world are create through nothing more than a series of coincidences. Besides, it has already sort of happened. The only reason America even exists today is because a series of perfect coincidences were created. Take, for example, the Battle of Antietam during the civil war. Lee, a much more brilliant general than McClellan, had a perfect plan which, if done successfully, could have led to several problems on the side of the Union (such as Lincoln not being able to try and go through with the Emancipation Proclamation) and ultimately could have led to Confederate victory in the Civil War. So what is that allowed McClellan, a man who was not even slightly as brilliant as Lee, to win the battle at Antietam? It’s because that, by chance, a Union scout discovered Lee’s battle plans, which a Confederate soldier must have accidentally dropped without even realizing it. This battle, one of the most pivotal in the entire Civil War, was decided before it even began because of a coincidence. In a country built upon coincidences and lucky chances, is it really too hard to imagine that these two men could meet and change the World? Either way, it’s easy to see that Immigration plays a major role in our community as a whole. Immigration has led to the integration of varied delicacies and cuisine, all of which serve as a way for us to enjoy the tastes and spices of other cultures. It has led to the development of many different traditions, all of which serve as a major focal point in our society, even today. Most importantly, Immigration is something which has the ability to create something beautiful and wonderful. Simply by bringing together two people from opposite sides of the world, immigration can serve as a way for new idea and concepts to be born. So while immigration may be something that is easily forgotten, it’s not only impactful, but truly beautiful.

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Two FTHS Juniors Win Freehold Democratic Club Essay Contest