Lies are the foundation of our immigration system — “immigrants bring crime,” or “immigrants steal our benefits and welfare” — but the worst lie is that we are better than this — “this isn’t America.”

Pick up a book and look up nativism, the Know-Nothing Party, the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Gentlemen’s Agreement with Japan, immigration quotas, the Bracero program, Japanese (and Japanese-Latin American) internment, “Operation Wetback,” the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act (expedited removal), the formation of ICE and its litany of abuses, the detention of asylum seekers (under Barack Obama and Donald Trump), the forced separation of families, and the travel (Muslim) ban. Not once has this country truly cared about immigrants or refugees in any way commensurate with the stories we tell ourselves. This fundamental misunderstanding of this aspect of our country sets up every other immigration lie. We bomb countries continuously, wage economic warfare against them and fund violent coups to overthrow their governments, only to demonize them on the back end and deny them entry when things go wrong.

Our inability to confront our past and our biases precludes us from being a beacon to the world, a “city on a hill” or a nation that “embrace[s] all and not just some.”

Jason Chandler, Salt Lake City