Immigration Crisis

An Immigrants’ Guide to America

My friend Marcelles Bouvoius has just arrived from Haiti to New York City. We

became friends through a neighbor of mine, and by coincidence, lives right next door to

me. She does not have a job yet, but I’ve been nice enough to take her all around the

city. She looks wide-eyed each time we pass by Times Square, and admires the buildings

in Maiden Lane, Brooklyn. She gazes in amazement at Central Park, and has fallen in

love with the roller coasters at Coney Island. What she does know about America so far

is that it has the most beautiful buildings and places she has ever seen. However, she is

heavily into politics, and knows only the simple basics of American politics, such as it

being a democracy. Haiti is also a democracy, and yet it seems so different. She wants to

know why. I will teach her why.

What makes America so unique is its very successful embracement of the basic

principles of democracy. These principles include the fact that all citizens are equal under

the law. Under the U.S. Constitution, all citizens have the right to vote, bear arms,

freedom of religion, press, assembly, and privacy. These are many freedoms that many, if

not most, Americans take for granted. We also have the right to vote for whoever we

want without being afraid of intimidation from your opposition. The secret ballot is

responsible for this, and is a great implement in democratic societies. Because our

country is a republic, our citizens choose leaders who represent us, rather than us

following through with every single piece of legislation that comes through our

government. Most of us don’t have time for that, so it is a nice convenience knowing

we have leaders who can make or observe laws that may come to our being. We as

citizens also have the right to a speedy trial, in which we can only be accused if there

is good reason, although many argue this is not happening at this time. That subject,

just like every subject in America, is open to debate. This allows citizens to participate

meaningly in American politics. Aside from just voting and letting politicians do all

the work, we have the right to form interest groups to have our specific interests

protected. An example is the NAACP. Civil rights is a very important issue for

many people, and to make sure our politicians do not forget that, the NAACP often

has meetings with elected officials from all levels of government. If we wish to

financially support a candidate running for office, we may give money either directly

to his campaign or indirectly, privately or publicly.

Our U.S. Constitution enables these principles to function in much the same way

oil helps to operate a motor vehicle:the car will exist, but it will not function at its best

without it. The primary job of the U.S. Constitution is to protect these laws and make

sure nothing happens to them. If a law seems unfair and enough people complain about it,

the law can even be deemed unconstitutional and be taken away or modified. The

Constitution is often referred to as a “living and breathing document”, and is subject to

change, for America is always changing too. For example, slavery used to exist, although

slavery itself was never mentioned in the Constitution, except to say slave trading around

the 1800s was to be made illegal. However, after the Civil War, the 13th Amendment was

drawn up, disenabling slavery forever. The Constitution also makes sure civil rights are

protected. One of our valued principles as Americans is the right to vote, but for a very

long time, this principle was held to a certain population. Blacks in the northern states

enjoyed the right to vote and ride buses without fear of harassment or prejudice(for the

most part), but in the south, things were drastically different. Prejudice was a way of

life for whites toward blacks, and it was not until courageous legislation led to

amendments in the Constitution. These amendments forbade the government sanctioned

racism that existed in the south and in several parts of the north, as well as forbidding

racism in housing, employment, and in most endeavors of public life. The principles that

we hold dear today have traditionally not been protected by states, but by the

Constitution. The U.S. Constitution is a national institution, and this increases democracy

by forcing all states to treat its citizens with dignity and respect. These powers can be

either direct or implied. Implied laws are laws that are not mentioned specifically but are

assumed to exist. Direct laws are rules directly stated in the Constitution. Any laws not

mentioned specifically in this document are left up to the states. Other national

institutions that are worthy of mention is our federal bureaucracies, which do all kinds

of help to citizens. Examples are the F.B.I, which investigates federal crimes and

F.E.M.A, which helps people in disaster situations(flooding, tornadoes, etc). Our

branches of government are worthy of mention too, which are the judicial, legislative,

and executive. The judicial branch enforce laws or deems them unconstitutional, while

the legislative branch creates laws. The executive branch is headed by the President and

the White House, which has important foreign policy powers and a wide length of

implied powers that is thought to belong to the president. What is very important here

however, is that no branch is more important than the other, and each has the power

to cancel each other’s rulings’ out, creating the famous “checks and balances” system we

here so much about today. This means that the president cannot make many decisions

without the support of Congress, and so forth. What a great system we have in place

Marcelle!

In conclusion Marcelle, we have a very busy and active American government in

the year 2004. Many do not support the president in his perhaps hasty decision to go to

war in Iraq, and many feel frustrated about the supposed lack of civil rights that

government has imposed on us in the wake of 9/11. What still makes this a beautiful

country in the long run however, is that we can vote Bush out of office or keep him

in, depending how you feel about him. Whether you like him or not, you do not have

to fear retaliation for your viewpoints. This, Marcelle, is what makes America the

greatest country in the world. Trust me, stay.

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