Support not Oppose

Migrants wait to sort through donated men's clothing as women stand in line elsewhere at a sports complex sheltering various migrant caravans trying to reach the U.S. border, in Mexico City, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018.

Photo courtesy of AP images

Migrants wait to sort through donated men's clothing as women stand in line elsewhere at a sports complex sheltering various migrant caravans trying to reach the U.S. border, in Mexico City, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018.

by Sarah Dolder, Copy Editor

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From slaves to immigrant workers, the immigrant community has been working since the beginning of the nation to become the backbone of the country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, immigrants make up 13.5 percent of the total U.S. population, and the U.S. foreign-born population is 43.7 million. According to the Pew Research Center, immigrants and their descendants will account for 88 percent of U.S. population growth through 2065. The immigrant community has been working since the beginning of the nation to become the backbone of the country, However, immigrants don’t always support one another’s communities, but rather bash one another over cultural prejudices and stereotypes.

With the results of the 2018 midterm election and the presence of the migrant caravan still in the news cycle, conversations on immigration and racial stereotypes continue to surge. This contributes to a feeling of resentment within the immigrant community between ethnic groups.

Twitter discussions about Beto’s immigration reform policies made me realize that while most immigrants do share sympathy for each others’ struggles, inside and outside of the U.S., there are some that have been living in this “bubble.” These immigrants have always had it easy because their parents had the privilege of coming here legally before immigration laws and policies made it harder to go through the legalization process. This showed me how indifferent people can be towards those that are suffering and the struggles that people experience in third-world and developing countries. People come here in search for a better life, higher education and security. These immigrants whose parents gave them the chance to be born American don’t seem to understand the financial burdens people going through the legalization process undergo, assuming that it’s a generally easy process for everybody.

Here are the facts: acquiring a permanent (or even temporary) residence costs around $1,500 for the request of a legal status change, and that’s if there are no travel expenses, lawyer fees or work missed in order to go through the application process, according to the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services. Not only does this mean that there is a rather large percentage of people that simply can’t afford that, it also means that those who can’t afford to lose work time can’t apply because they can’t afford to lose the money. Considering the total cost of applying for visas, green cards and citizenships, these fees can pile up to thousands of dollars without all the other expenses. To put it simply, the time-consuming, expensive, grueling process of legally entering the United States is not something that every single person can do.

Most immigrants, and non-immigrants, have the common misconception that the majority of immigrants are Mexican or Hispanic and that the legalization process is a simple procedure that everyone can simply go through. Just in the first quarter of 2018, 38.65 percent of immigrants that obtained lawful permanent resident status were Asian, while only six percent were South American, according to the Department of Homeland Security. These statistics debunk two myths: that most immigrants are from South and Central America, and that obtaining legal residence in the United States is easy; only 260,000 people were able to get a permanent residency out of over a million that applied in the first quarter of this year.

Even though I am an immigrant who recently moved to America, I have had the advantage of having an American-born father and being a white-passing Hispanic. However, people like my mom, a person of color who speaks broken English, don’t have these advantages against racist groups of people– immigrants or non-immigrants. Immigrants are supposed to support each other and have sympathy for each other’s struggles because if we can’t hold each other up then no one else will, but this isn’t always the case.

I remember the first time my mom was caught in a situation where she felt helpless and vulnerable, simply because of her skin color and her accent. She was at work, greeting a customer and offering to help with anything they needed. This customer, however, replied, “We live in America. Learn how to speak English or go back to wherever you came from.” While my mom is usually a person that would speak up for herself, she had to be professional and not let her feelings get in the way of her job, so she simply let it go and found someone else to attend to the customer. The first thing that came to my mind when she told me this was: How can someone be this rude and openly racist towards someone who is simply trying to do their job? Of course, I assumed this person was white, as I wouldn’t have expected an immigrant to say this to her, but I was proved wrong when she said they were an immigrant themselves. However, the main problem was that it was an immigrant, a person of color, saying this to my mom. This left me dumbfounded. I simply could not understand how someone who has gone through the same struggles and faces the same discrimination could be this discourteous towards another immigrant.

There is racism everywhere, whether it be against African-Americans, Hispanics, Middle Easterners, Asians or any other race; at some point in their lives, immigrants, especially those of color, will likely be caught in a situation where someone is overtly racist towards them. Racism exists in all races, towards most races and should not be tolerated.