Is America Still a Nation of Immigrants?

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By: Enoch Kun

When I came to the United States in 2005, my first American history lesson was about the foundation of this nation. My teacher told me America is a nation of immigrants. This powerful statement impressed me because before that time, I thought only natural-born citizens could be Americans. I did not know that a nation could be open to anyone. After years of living in the U.S, I have no doubt that this statement is true, especially after we elected the first African American president who is the son of an immigrant.

Unfortunately, since the 2016 presidential election, I have heard words against immigrants. Some radical activists even claimed that this country should ban immigration. I began to question whether America is still a nation of immigrants. To find out the answer, I chose to apply for a summer internship at Journey’s End Refugee Services this summer.

Throughout the summer, I gained firsthand experience in immigration law. I worked with refugee clients. I worked on immigration forms. I did legal research on immigration policy. This was all made possible by the Allison Tam ’97 & Thomas Tam ’97 1L Summer Fellowship Award through University at Buffalo School of Law.

From all these experiences, I felt that America has become less friendly to immigrants under the current administration. The number of refugee admissions in the U.S has been dropping. The student visa policy over the pandemic was too cruel. Some government officials intentionally withhold driver license applications of undocumented immigrants. All these policies are hurting our foundation as a nation of immigrants.

Although I am disappointed with the current situation, I still think that America is a nation of immigrants. This country is not perfect. However, we always can correct its mistakes. After this fellowship, I will continue to work on immigration law. Hopefully, in the future, our teachers can still proudly tell our children that America is a nation of immigrants.

Kun EnochName: Enoch Kun, ‘22

Name of Fellowship: Allison Tam ’97 & Thomas Tam ’97 1L Summer Fellowship Award

Placement: Journey’s End Refugee Services

Location: Buffalo, NY 

One important lesson I have learned from this fellowship: Understanding the current immigration policy of America, a nation of immigrants.”