“Deportee” by Woody Guthrie > “Immigration Man” by Crosby, Stills & Nash > “Immigrant” by Belly ft. M.I.A. and Meek Mill > “Land of the Free” by The Killers


Each of these songs, with the possible exception of “Land of the Free” if you do not take the music video into consideration, deals exclusively with the ongoing problems that have been happening at the Mexican American border for centuries. Each touches on how much Mexican or other South American immigrants sacrifice only to be mistreated at the border, oppressed if they are granted entry, and always worrying about the risk of deportation. 

In “Deportee”, Guthrie sings “They’re flying ’em back to the Mexican border, To pay all their money to wade back again.”Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Immigration Man” puts the listener at the border, in an even more personal account. It also touches on the trivialness that an imaginary line has on the potential opportunities one can have in life. They sing “Can I cross the line and pray, I can stay another day, Let me in, immigration man, I won’t toe your line today,I can’t see it anyway.” While the construction of the border wall has made this point somewhat mute, Crosby, Stills & Nash make the point that borders are really just imaginary lines, but their effect on our world are monumental.

 “Immigrant” a hip hop song by Belly, an immigrant likely resonates with the latinx community even further. During his verse, he raps “Lock our babies up and then they tell us that it’s fake news,Yes, Lord, we need a breakthrough, Build a fuckin’ wall, I guarantee the people break through, I went to Hell and back, you can tell ’em that.”  It’s obvious his first person account is sung from a deeply emotional place, which is an element that the other songs don’t necessarily have.


“We the People” by A Tribe Called Quest > “Freedom” by Beyonce ft. Kendrick Lamar > “What’s Free?” by Meek Mill ft. Jay-Z > “Land of the Free” by The Killers


In this lineage, “Land of the Free” finds itself in the midst of mainly hip hop protest songs. The underlying message that connects each song however, is the skepticism of values America is supposedly built on, and what it truly means to be free in America. While the song titles invoke American mottos, values, and principles, the lyrics tell a completely different story, pointing out the irony in our core beliefs juxtaposed with our true treatment of the people that call the country home.

A Tribe Called Quest takes the iconic first words of the constitution to bring attention to who the people of America actually are, satirizing the way people in America feel about them. They sing in the refrain “All you Black folks, you must go, All you Mexicans, you must go, And all you poor folks, you must go, Muslims and gays, Boy, we hate your ways, So all you bad folks, you must go.” Even though America is made up of all of these diverse populations, they are still alienated within the country. While the song touches on a number of issues, similar to “Land of the Free”, it’s underlying point is that the phrase “we the people” should encompass people of all demographics. In Beyonce’s “Freedom”, she sings about the constraints on freedom when you are of a certain race, singing “Freedom, I can’t move, Freedom, cut me loose, ‘Cause I need freedom, too, I break chains all by myself.” While freedom may be said to be sacred in America, Beyonce feels she is still in chains because of systemic racism. Lastly in “What’s Free”, Jay-Z actually invokes the phrase ‘land of the free’, rapping “In the land of the free, where the blacks enslaved” as he points out how racism has made blacks feel devoid of their freedom. Each of these songs, similar to “Land of the Free” touches on a sense of unbelonging. As much as America is said to be built on these idealist values, in reality these songs point out the systemic issues that disprove our core beliefs as a country.