I Wouldn't Be Here If My Parents Never Immigrated To The U.S.

I Wouldn't Be Here If My Parents Never Immigrated To The U.S.

I'm forever grateful for a single choice.

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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?

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Your Xenophobia And Hatred Are Not Welcome Here President Trump

"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
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As an advocate for immigrant and refugee rights, I have been utterly appalled by the executive order put forth by the Trump administration. It not only infringes on basic human rights but is utterly offensive to the foundation that this country has been built upon.

Post election, I admit I was shell shocked. Perhaps I had been living in my hippie bubble too long, or maybe I had a little too much faith in humanity but I was devastated that hate seemed to trump all in this election. While I realize some who chose to vote for Trump did so reluctantly, it was heart breaking to see that the harmful and offensive rhetoric that he spews is what (some) of our nation chose to put into office. I am frustrated that those ideologies are what our nation now has in the top office of our country.

I have had the privilege of being white, not having to worry about my skin color determining my societal worth. The fact that that sentence holds any truth is atrocious, yet, unfortunately, a reality of our world. So when I saw that Trump won, I didn't have to worry about myself too much, or my loss of rights, except for ones pertaining to my ability to make decisions about my own body or the fact that the President of the United States openly treats women as objects and things that have pussies to grab.... However, what I had to worry about the most when I saw that he was elected was everyone else I care about. Those whose rights were fought so hard for and those who do not deserve to be treated the way they are in a white America.

Something that has always baffled me is this concept of white supremacy and xenophobia that I thought, I hoped, was locked away in our past. I don't understand how someone can look at a person different from themselves and see them a threat or as less than themselves. Since when has white been the best race? Since when has anything been better through homogeneity? Is diversification of thought and background not preferred? So why then are we so opposed to immigrants and refugees? People who have so much culture, and life, and ideas to share? America is not a nation built on homogeneity, we are a nation of diversity, we have been from the start. We are a nation built on the premise of immigrants and refugees, so why would we turn them away now?

President Trump's ban is offensive and unacceptable. He blocked individuals from countries where we have never had terrorists come from. In fact, the countries that would have been logical to put on his list if he truly wanted to "protect" this nation would have included countries that are very lucrative for Trump's business'. Additionally, the fact that this ban has been said to be a measure to better "vet" those coming into our country is absolutely ludicrous. The immigrants and refugees who have visas, green cards, and the host of documents necessary to enter this country had already been through extreme vetting processes. This offensive and xenophobic order was right to have been overturned not only by Judge Robart but also by the appellate court.

The statue of Liberty so boldly stands and proclaims the American mission to: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Just because some of us won the lottery of life and were fortunate to be born white americans does not mean that we have the right to deny people access to this land. Not to mention the atrocious situations people are fleeing, we at least on a human level should demonstrate the decency and empathy that we would hope others would show us in a time of such dire need.

I want to be an immigration lawyer to defend human rights, to give these people the same opportunities of success I have been given just by being born in this nation. I hope that our country can band together and continue to defend human rights and justice by opposing the presidential executive order that has worked so hard to destroy these very things we should cherish. Let it be known President Trump, your xenophobia and hatred are not welcome here.

Cover Image Credit: Twitter

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Introducing Miah Johnson

"It made me learn to love and live in every moment as if it were the last." -Miah Johnson

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It was Daddy Donut day at Teasley Elementary School, but for Miah Johnson, it was just another day in which she had to pretend everything was okay. It had been a month since Miah's dad was deported and left her hopeless.

As Johnson took her last sip of coffee she laughs. She shares how hard it was for her to talk about her father. Many people do not know about the days she spent crying because she needed him, or how she was not sure if they would ever move past the hard times. How she went days without being able to eat a proper meal because they did not have enough money to make ends meet. Ashamed and embarrassed she shares her memories of going to church early in the morning for bread, canned soup, and powdered milk. She explains that there are times when she gets excited to share something with her father but strange darkness takes over and she loses hope that one day a real relationship with him will exist.

Johnson was born in Fort Lauderdale Florida in 1999. She is the only child of her small sheltered loving family. Her childhood was a fairy tale, her best friend was her stepfather, "I wasn't his biological daughter, but he raised me as one and I will always be grateful for the memories." Johnson's eyes flood with tears as she reminiscences on her past. School work was the best way she coped with her loss. She always made herself busy, if she didn't have any homework she would read, pick up a new hobby or dance. Going to bed was the hardest part of her day. All of the thoughts and feelings she fought so hard to keep away came pouring out in a way she does not know how to describe. Not having her father broke her in many ways, but the one she speaks about most often is not having a financially and emotionally stable home.

Johnson attended Elon University on a full ride her freshman year but decided to transfer to a school closer to home. Johnson was not ready to leave she admitted quietly. She describes that there was a shift in her during her first semester there, for the first time she failed classes, gained 20 pounds and lost her scholarship. Her failure comes from a lack of stability and support. The friendships she made there weren't enough to keep her there, she could no longer afford the prestigious college. Now she takes classes online at Kennesaw State University. She has to work two jobs in order to make ends meet for her and her family. Johnson laughs at the situation and explains how her father used to lecture her on how education is the best way out of their situation. Now she feels like she has disappointed him and that she has to make up for the broken promise.

There is never enough money. Johnson has made plans to visit her father multiple times but has never been able to visit him. There is always something that comes up. Her mother's car broken down the first time, they couldn't afford to pay the bills the other time, and the last time she needed a car of her own to help get to and from work. She shows a screenshot of her bank account. Negative eight dollars. She sighs and states that life has a funny way of getting in the way of the important things.

Johnson believes that if her father was still here, it would be different. She would have never known what it was like to go hungry, feel so hopeless, and do not have a stable home.

She explains that it was an experience she doesn't share because it is painful to talk about but, "It made me learn to love and live in every moment as if it were the last."

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