by Sapphira Lurie, FCLC ’17
Today, The Fordham Ram published an opinion piece titled “Turn Right: A Path To American Citizenship.” The piece, written by Rose Hill freshman Brianna Lyman, essentially lays out the punishments that Lyman imagines should be placed upon undocumented immigrants in the United States as well as requirements she believes should be implemented in the naturalization process. Lyman writes: “Although I think the just thing to do is to deport them, I understand it is just not feasible. However, with that being said, there has to be some type of reparation that undocumented immigrants must pay for entering our country illegally. To just create an easier path to citizenry is a slap in the face to the thousands that apply and wait patiently until they are cleared.”
Lyman concedes that it would be unrealistic to deport all undocumented immigrants. Yet her declaration that this would be the most “just” punishment for immigrants makes it clear that the only reason she does not advocate for mass deportations is that it is an ineffective strategy of punishment. Her professed ideological support of mass deportations serves as a justification for the destruction of families and communities who are subjected to ICE raids, detainments, and deportations.
This op-ed may seem outrageously racist to some, but it is really no surprise that The Ram has published it. Lyman’s piece is consistent with the Ram’s recent trend of publishing student opinion pieces filled with prejudice, exemplified by pieces like “Turn Right,” “Check Your Liberal Privilege,” “Snickers, Scares, and Stereotypes,” and “Keeping ‘Christ’ in Christmas.”
It is important to note here that Lyman’s piece, published in the wake of Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, and Somalia,) makes no reference whatsoever to the fact that under the current administration (and indeed at many points in U.S. history,) documented immigrants (dual nationals as well as those with visas and green cards) are being detained for hours and turned away at the US border and in airports. To claim outrage for “legal” immigrants while at the same time failing to address the fact that many residents and citizens are currently being refused entry to the country they live in is total hypocrisy.
A click on the author tag for Brianna Lyman on the Ram’s website reveals she has had two other pieces published in the Ram: one titled “Conspiracy: The Gender Wage Gap Edition” and another titled “A Ban That Never Was A Ban.” In “A Ban That Never Was A Ban,” Lyman actually does address the Muslim ban. She writes: “I am a supporter of the temporary 120 day immigration halt made by the executive order of President Trump.” She explains her support for the ban in terms of “national safety,” forgetting to note that no deadly attacks have been perpetrated against Americans by any nationals of the seven targeted countries since 9/11.
In “Turn Right: A Path To American Citizenship,” Lyman writes that in order to obtain citizenship, immigrants should have to prove that they speak or understand English. A quick fact check by either Lyman or the editors of the Ram would have found that, with few exceptions, an English test is already required by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in order to gain citizenship. Not only that, but as the United States has no official language, and as many of those who either already live in the U.S. and who migrate to this country do not speak English, this so-called “new path to citizenship” of Lyman’s is patently discriminatory and unnecessary- is Lyman incapable of living her English-speaking life alongside those who do not speak English? Why should this be a requirement at all?
Lyman also wants employers to pay fines for hiring undocumented workers. Again, another fact check would reveal that employers do pay penalties if they are found to engage in patterns of hiring undocumented workers. Many of Lyman’s policy ideas for a “new path to citizenship” are already put into practice in the United States.
In the online article, Lyman originally wrote that undocumented immigrants who become naturalized “should also not collect social security, and there should be a fine to pay for those who have been here longer than a year, since they do not pay taxes.” The Ram, after numerous complaints on their Facebook post with the article linked, updated the article to say that “some undocumented immigrants might avoid paying taxes,” linking a Politifact article from last month that in no way supports that claim. The Politifact article says two things relevant to Lyman’s claim: first, that the Tax Policy Center estimates that 56% of all Americans pay federal income tax. Second, that the “claim that half of all undocumented workers pay federal income taxes is likely a low ball estimate.” There is nothing in the Politifact link that points towards undocumented immigrants disproportionately avoiding payment of federal income tax, as Lyman implies.
To recap, Lyman’s article clearly has not even been checked for factual accuracy. It is a disgrace that the editors of The Fordham Ram decided to publish an anti-immigrant op-ed without bothering to so much as fact check it. It is highly disturbing that as the Trump administration launches attacks on both documented and undocumented immigrants, Lyman can pretend that her concern is for national security and for the legitimacy of naturalized citizens, rather than an attempt to stoke racism and xenophobia in Fordham’s student body. The Fordham community must support the immigrant community, especially the Fordham community members affected by the Muslim ban. We at The Fordham Alternative will continue to stand against anti-immigrant attacks and to demand that our university protect its students.