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The winners of the Plumas County League of Women Voters essay contest — all Quincy High School students in Erica Perdue's class — pose with Supervisor Greg Hagwood who represents Quincy. From left: Kaitlynn Miller, Luke Lerch, Greg Hagwood, Ava McColm and Zenia Moghaddas. Photo courtesy of Plumas County League of Women Voters

Winning essayist reads his composition to board of supervisors

The Plumas County League of Women Voters introduced  the winners of its 2022 essay contest on the topic “Is Immigration Good for the United States?to the Board of Supervisors during the Feb. 7 meeting. Luke Lerch of Quincy High School was the grand prize winner, and  three additional students received honorable mentions: Ava McColm, Kaitlynn Miller, and Zenia Moghaddas.

Essays were judged on theme development, creativity, clarity, writing technique and manuscript appearance. The grand prize winner received $250, and each honorable mention winner received $75.  Following is the winning essay by Luke Lerch, which he read to the supervisors.


Quincy High School student Luke Lerch reads his winning essay. Photo courtesy of Plumas County League of Women Voters

Immigration and the United States of America

In 1776, the people of the United States of America declared themselves independent from Britain- tired of gatekeeping, discrimination, and little representation in government. But who, really, are the real people of the United States? Are they the founding fathers, who worked as figureheads for independence? Are they the valiant soldiers who fought against the British empire  for freedom? Are they the ordinary citizens, the people who just wanted a break? Or, are they the British- the people who moved to the American colonies in the first place? The people of the United States are all of these, and more- they’re the Native Americans who were robbed, they are the people whose ancestors were brought here as slaves. And, furthermore, immigration is not something that should be viewed as good or bad- it is, simply, part of who we are as a nation, more than it is simply positive or negative.

The United States, inherently, is a diverse nation, made of many demographics, many people, all with different backgrounds and stories to tell. But people have been trying to change that- trying to keep the United States from welcoming new people, from saving the people who need to escape from impoverished lives, who just want a better place to live. The worst part? They’ve been succeeding. They’ve been building walls on borders, hiring ‘border patrol agents,’ and tearing families apart and imprisoning and deporting them. We’re becoming our own Britain- forcing people to places they don’t want to be, labeling people without any representation ‘citizens’ so we can tax them, and, now, keeping the people who need refuge the most from asylum within our nation. 

So much of the U.S’s amazing uniqueness stems from our cultural differentiation- from street vendors, bringing new flavors to passerby to our leaders and politicians, how American one is doesn’t matter- to be American, you don’t need to be rich, don’t need to be employed, don’t need to hate other cultures. How can someone who considers themselves patriotic treat people with the same methods and actions that led to our uprising and independence in the first place? The people who are most American are or were refugees who chose this place to start a new life, just as the first colonists did.

There are dozens of counter-arguments- people say that non-citizens tank economies, and vote against the better interest of the States. But, in this era, where workforces are short and employers can struggle to find employees, that’s not true at all. And, furthermore, the betterment of the lives of the people is the interest of the states- when people vote for something that could better their lives, it is so rarely at odds with the country’s wellbeing. 

Due to all of these reasons, and so many more, there is no doubt in my mind- we should not be barring refugees and immigrants, should not be separating and hurting them- they are as American as the rest of us.

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