Almost every person I've met during my life has some sort of immigration story in their family. Many are to escape the turmoil and violence in their native country, others are to obtain a better life for themselves and their families. But a lot of people misconstrued what these people have to go through to get here and why they come to America, a place that's motto is land of the free.
Here's why my family came to America.
My mom was twenty-three when she and my aunt, who was two years younger, traveled for the first time to the united states. They were the oldest of eight children and the first to be able to go to an American university. My grandpa worked for so many years to give his children the opportunity to have a better life outside of the Congo. The country was in the middle of a decade's long civil war with the government. The corruption within the law was escalating, the economy was depleting, and with the recent genocide in Rwanda, there was an influx of refugees, and some rebels, coming into the country. So my mom decided that this was the time for her and my aunt to leave.
She and my dad were engaged so they made a promise that as soon as he got his visa approved, he would join her. They traveled to Atlanta in 1994 and my dad followed a year later. Many people who immigrated to the east-south coast were housing newcomers as they got on their feet. They went to school while working part-time minimum wage jobs. They were able to get a nice apartment and just in time because I came along three years later.
Soon after I was born, my mom's younger siblings came to earn their degrees and start the life they hoped to have. They went to school, worked part-time at Wendy's, McDonald's, Sears, you name it.
All while they helped raise me and my two brothers and younger sister in our three bedroom condo apartment. Twenty years later, we have all achieved so much. My parents not only earned masters and bachelor's degrees but became entrepreneurs of their own businesses. My aunts and uncles were able to get a well-earned education and have careers they wouldn't be able to get back in Congo. My parents sacrificed so much for our family to come here and be more than what was unimaginable for so many.
If the story was different, our family would be the ones on the news. I would be a child taken from her parents. I would be someone who had to escape the violence in their country. I would be a DACA Dreamer worrying if I would be deported to a country I never knew about before I could graduate college. I would be a parent being sent away and be separated from my spouse and children.
People ask why people come to America, this is why. They ask why can't they go through the legal process of getting visas or green cards. The immigration process can take at least eight to ten years and cost thousands of dollars for lawyers, paperwork, and legal fees. Not every person can afford the means to go through the process of immigrating to the US legally. They have the option of staying in their country and die from starvation, illness, or murder. Or they can walk the two hundred mile trek to the border and seek asylum.
Now ask yourself this question, If this was you and your family, would you stay or would you go?