Since I was a kid, I've been surrounded by talks of illegal immigration. I remember being scared watching the news covering illegal immigration. I remember being overly cautious whenever near law officials and most of all, I remember peers and adults calling illegal immigrants aliens, rapists, murderers, drug dealers, and terrorists. What they didn't realize is that these illegal immigrants that they are describing are people I know.
Or maybe they did realize because as ugly as it is to say, the United States is a xenophobic place.
Everyone blames these immigrants for being illegal. Yes, they crossed the border or overstayed their visas but what no one is blaming are events that led them to do that. The majority of immigrants don't want to leave their home country but are forced to, due to violence, poverty and the lack of jobs in their communities. Immigrants come to the U.S. not just for themselves but for a better life, since when has this pursuit of happiness been illegal? Is it only legal for the white community?
No one blames the U.S and the Mexican government, who have in no way formed a solution for this problem, instead choosing to encourage xenophobic and white supremacist views. No one is blaming President Trump who continues to spread lies about immigrants, who continues to spread false facts, especially exemplified in his recent address. No one is prosecuting ICE officials who are responsible for having 22 immigrants die in their detention centers in the past 2 years. And since this whole government shutdown began over wall funding, not one story has overtly focused on the immigrant story.
There are immigrants who have been in the U.S for 18+ years and they are just as American as I am and every other U.S. citizen. They are just as hardworking and contributive to society. The only thing that separates them from the U.S. populace is a decision that they made when they were young adults and had no other option. A decision they made before 9/11-- before serious security checks were increased, especially targeted at individuals from other countries.
The reason that 12 million+ illegal immigrants are "illegal" is to blame on xenophobic views in the U.S. The so-called wall that will supposedly keep out gangs, drugs and violent immigrants from the U.S-- is it any coincidence that it is only separating Mexico and Central America from the U.S.? Why not build a wall separating Canada from the U.S.? Because the simple fact of the matter is that the United States does not care whether white people come into this country.
So many people in the U.S. are not able to comprehend the reason why so many immigrant families come to the U.S. They don't understand their stories and the several centuries of events that led to this. The only way that White Americans would be open to this idea of freely crossing borders would be if these immigrants were white-- mimicking exactly what happened in America when Europeans colonized.
Throughout these next few months, I hope to be able to retell immigrant stories-- the reasons why they migrated to the U.S., and especially how they are currently living the American Dream. These immigrants are so often wrongly represented by xenophobic views labeling them as the villain to the U.S. citizens' story that it is time that these "illegal" immigrants get to have their stories truthfully told, especially to stop the fear-mongering that surround these individuals and their lives. These stories that will be published are also not meant to paint the whole immigrant experience in a happy, innocent tone. Immigrant stories are filled with harsh realities that many individuals in the U.S. have had the privilege of not experiencing, but should otherwise still be knowledgable about.
As U.S. citizens, living in privilege is something that we take for granted, to the point that we don't even notice the adversities occurring in other countries-- ignorant to the reason why many of these individuals look to the American Dream as an emblem of hope.