Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself thinking about immigration a lot more than usual. Of course, current events have helped that, as I can’t log into Twitter without seeing some new ridiculous move Trump has made, and immigration seems to be a part of his current MO—ironic, as we are a country literally built on immigrants. And as I’m thinking about immigration, naturally, I reflect on how it’s impacted my life.
A lot of pieces come together for any individual’s existence. Immigration is a huge piece for a majority of Americans, though it’s more evident in some families than others.
American immigration policies play a big role in my own existence. My British ancestors came over in the time of the Mayflower, many years before America, in the way we know it in the present, existed. So, for the members of this side of my family, America’s ever-changing immigration laws never touched them in the same way they did others.
Meanwhile, as I discussed in my article about Asian Americans last week, America was not so kind to Asians for a while. It’s only been about fifty years since all of the Asian exclusion immigration laws were repealed, giving Asian immigrants more equal footing with other ethnic groups. Because of my Filipino family members, immigration makes up a significant part of my identity. If America had never opened its doors to Asians, I definitely wouldn’t exist; it would have been impossible for my parents to meet.
Without immigration, race relations would be vastly different. For one thing, I doubt Asian countries would love us. We’d probably seem pretty “extra”, a slang term used these days to emphasize how over-the-top a given person or entity is. (As if America isn’t already extra enough.) I’d be pretty upset if people from my country were not allowed in other places; it’s basically segregation imposed on traveling.
Additionally, imagine how much differently interracial relationships would be perceived in the present day if immigration options were never presented to people. Would we have ever seen the victory of Loving v. Virginia? Mixed kids would be even more of a minority (and an oddity) than we already are. Where would we be welcome?
I know some people don’t like to look back after immigrating—just look at Asian silence, for example, which I’ve found to be strange because of its contrast with Asians’ decisions to protest policies in their home countries by moving away, escaping. Most people immigrate for economic reasons. The Philippines isn’t the greatest place in the world, economically speaking, which pushed a lot of Filipinxs to move to America.
If America remained closed-off and isolated, some of the people I cherish would have definitely suffered. Would they have been able to find as much success in the Philippines as they have here since immigrating?
I believe the rule of “either it’s all okay or none of it’s okay” should apply to America’s attitude toward immigration; either immigration is a wonderful, wonderful thing open to anyone and everyone so we can pride ourselves on being a diverse “cultural melting pot”, or none of it is okay and, no, we aren’t the great, big “cultural melting pot” because we prioritize some races over others.
I’m tired of Americans patting themselves on the back for being part of such a diverse nation, only to then turn around and condemn entire groups of foreigners based on the actions of a small few or the differences between us and them. These kinds of Americans don’t really care for these POC they love to put on display as an example of their acceptance and diversity.
Immigration is a beautiful thing that should be celebrated in America, regardless of where we’ve all come from to get here. Some of us have to leave our homes in an escape from cruelty while some of us are the results of such tragic decisions.
At the end of the day, we’re all the same, believe it or not; we’re all human beings.