When I first walked onto this campus three years ago, I used to think that college was one of the most open-minded, liberal and accepting places in the world.  Time and this election cycle have seemed to prove me wrong, however, as my hope for the future and faith in humanity are dwindling.

I never expected to agree with everyone, but encountering so many negative views towards immigration has left me shocked and appalled.

Immigration may not be the most pressing campaign issue for everyone when deciding who to elect as the next leader of the free world, but I personally feel that it should be one of the biggest contending factors.

If you’re like me and the other estimated 87 percent of Americans out there, chances are that you were fortunate enough to be born in the United States and are a citizen only by luck. The fact of the matter is that we did nothing to earn the rights and privileges we’re allowed to exercise as citizens of the United States, yet that doesn’t stop us from feeling entitled to look down upon and decide the fates of those who were not dealt as good a hand as us in life.

I’ve always been proud to be part of a nation of immigrants, where so many people of different cultures, religions and nationalities can come together to celebrate their differences, but lately I don’t think there’s been anything to celebrate.  This semester I’ve listened to classmates in my international politics lecture make swooping and prejudice generalizations about immigrants, including that they’re all criminals, they’re lazy and that they’re all terrorists.

Personally, I don’t agree with any of these claims. I don’t think making sacrifices to provide your family with a better life, regardless of how you get here, is anything criminal.  Most immigrants who come here illegally are anything but lazy, and are too afraid to seek out aid or services in fear of deportation.  The “lazy” people my classmates and many others are referring to are helping to fill the voids in fields such as hospitality, agriculture and construction that many Americans don’t want, and they’re accumulating nearly $12 billion annually towards federal taxes that they’ll never see a return on.

We have a presidential candidate who claims he wants to protect us from immigrant terrorists, but I fear the terrorists who were born here much more. We seem to be eager to persecute an entire religion because of a small percentage of radical extremists, but we have no plans to combat the homegrown terrorists who bring guns into our elementary schools, churches and movie theaters.

You can blame ignorance and fear for a lot of these comments, but I believe that it’s selfish of others to forget where they came from. Many of us do not need to look back too far in order to point to where we came from and when we got here. If the tables were turned, would people still feel that the United States should be closing its doors to those banging and pleading to get in?  Would people still back a candidate who literally wants to divide people from one another and persecute those who aren’t “Americanized” enough?

I don’t think that we need to “Make America Great Again,” because in spite of all our problems, I still think America is a great place in the world.  I don’t think that singling our any particular group of individuals or deporting illegal immigrants who’ve build their lives here will make us any better.  In contrast, I think our differences are what make us great.

I’m not naïve enough to think that increasing immigration will solve all of the world’s problems. The sad fact is that even if we tripled the number of refugees we take in annually, we still would not be making a significant impact against world suffering. In order to truly make the world a better place collectively, I do agree with many right-winged politicians that we’ll have to help people where they are.  On the other hand, I’m also not so jaded as to think we should stop taking in refugees and immigrants in altogether.

I believe all voters should choose a candidate they feel will best lead our nation, but I urge everyone to think of their past before they cast their vote for the future.