I Need You To Stop Calling Immigrants "Illegal"

I Need You To Stop Calling Immigrants "Illegal"

An introductory piece to my retelling of immigrant stories highlighting why these people specifically chose to come into the U.S. "illegally"

1166
views

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.

Popular Right Now

The Thank You My Dad Deserves

While our moms are always the heroes, our dads deserve some credit, too.
625867
views

Dear Dad,

You’ve gone a really long time without being thanked. I'm not talking about thanks for things like opening the Gatorade bottle I couldn't or checking my tires when my car’s maintenance light is flashing, but rather the thanks I owe you for shaping me into the person I am today.

Thank you for teaching me what I deserve and for not letting me settle for anything less.

While the whole world was telling me I wasn’t good enough, you were there to tell me I was. Whether this was with boys, a friend, or anything else, you always built my confidence to a place I couldn’t build it to on my own. You showed me what my great qualities were and helped me feel unique. But most of all, you never let me settle for anything less than what I deserved, even when I wanted to. Without you, I wouldn’t be nearly as ambitious, outgoing or strong.

Thank you for giving me someone to make proud.

It’s hard to work hard when it’s just for myself, but so easy when it’s for you. All through school, nothing made me happier than getting a good grade back because I knew I got to come home and tell you. With everything I do, you give me a purpose.

SEE ALSO: 20 Things You Say When Calling Your Dad On The Phone

Thank you for showing me what selflessness looks like.

You are the prime example of what putting your family first looks like. If me wanting something means that you can’t get what you want, you’ll always sacrifice. From wearing the same t-shirts you’ve had since I was in elementary school so I could buy the new clothes I wanted, to not going out with your friends so you could come to my shows, you never made a decision without your family at the forefront of your mind. If there is one quality you have that I look up to you for the most, it’s your ability to completely put your needs aside and focus entirely on the wants of others.

Thank you for being the voice in the back of my head that shows me wrong from right.

Even though many of your dad-isms like “always wear a seatbelt” easily get old, whenever I’m in a situation and can’t decide if what I’m doing is right or wrong, I always can hear you in the back of my head pointing me in the right direction. While I may not boost your ego often enough by telling you you’re always right, you are.

Thank you for being real with me when nobody else will.

Being your child hasn’t always been full of happiness and encouragement, but that’s what makes you such an integral part of my life. Rather than sugarcoating things and always telling me I was the perfect child, you called me out when I was wrong. But what separates you from other dads is that instead of just knocking me down, you helped me improve. You helped me figure out my faults and stood by me every step of the way as I worked to fix them.

Most of all, thank you for showing me what a great man looks like.

I know that marriage may seem very far down the road, but I just want you to know that whoever the guy I marry is, I know he’ll be right because I have an amazing guy to compare him to. I know you’re not perfect (nobody is), but you’ve raised me in a such a way that I couldn’t imagine my kids being raised any differently. Finding a guy with your heart, drive, and generosity will be tough, but I know it will be worth it.


Dad, you’re more than just my parent, but my best friend. You’re there for me like nobody else is and I couldn’t imagine being where I am now without you.

Love you forever,

Your little girl

Cover Image Credit: Caity Callan

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

A Goodbye Letter To My Best Friend

You'll always be my puppy.

148
views

Dear Lexie,

I grew up with you, and then I watched you grow old. For 14 years you loved our family and greeted us each morning with your puppy smile. I'll never forget those first few years of life with you.

As you and your playful soul grew, so did my love for you. I have memory upon memory of you romping around on the carpet in our living room, eagerly seeking to engage us in a playful endeavor. Your tail would wag and your tongue would flop as you ran around in circles sharing your unbridled joy with us all. I'd then find one of your many toys and send it careening through air for you to dash across the living room in a tizzy.

As you continued to grow, so did your excitement and optimism for new feats of playfulness. Even in the sweltering heat of July, you would tear across the backyard in search of lost toys and a space to play. You'd run circles non-stop and I could never keep up with you! But as soon as both of us were tired, a nice swim would cool us both down. I would sit on the pool stairs next to you, both of us drenched after a dip, and just listen to you pant away while you still held your puppy smile. You were satisfied with yet another day filled with laughter, play, and companionship.

Even in your youth, you still had your moments of love and calm. I can remember the days when we would all sit as a family watching TV and you would sit quietly at our feet. Then when the time came, you would come and rest your head on the empty seat next to me and give me those big old puppy dog eyes. You always wanted to sit on the couch, and I always eventually caved. A quick two slaps on the seat and you would enthusiastically jump on to comfortably join me.

And the one thing I'll never forget about you Lexie was your insatiable hunger! Scores of cakes and cookies left on the kitchen counter were lost to you over the years. And even after a day of looting, you'd come to us at the kitchen table to rest your head on my leg to beg for more food (and once more I couldn't resist).

As you got on in age, you began to grow a white beard which stood out on your chocolate fur. You were no longer running around as frequently as you once had, but you still had every desire to play. But the one thing that never disappeared was that beautiful puppy smile. And so as I write this goodbye to you on February 2nd of 2019, I want you to know that we all love and miss you. You were a beacon of hope for our family, and you never let your ailments dampen your wonderful spirit. I'll never forget you or the times we had. I know now that you can finally steal all the cookies and cakes you want! While today might have been sad, I will forever remember all the joy you brought to us. Here's to you Lexie, my best friend of 14 years. I hope one day I can see your puppy smile once more.


Love,

Anthony

Related Content

Facebook Comments