“What, then, is the American?” – Crèvecoeur
Perhaps the conversation of immigration in America has always been centered around the idea of the American. What is an American? What defines such a type of people?
Did you know that most of the 11 million undocumented people in the U.S. have been here for five years or more? About two-thirds have been here for at least a decade.
Much like Trump’s invalid abortion debate, his immigration stance is demeaning and derogatory.
Let’s face it: our immigration system is broken. Building up a wall is not the answer to glue it back together — if it was ever together at all.
Even Catholics and Christians have united together to call for immigration reform policies within the United States. The “We Stand Together” network offers a vision that reflects “God’s grace and love for all people, including undocumented immigrants.” It is not a matter of whether or not secularity should be put into play; it is a matter of moral values and having a sympathetic, compassionate attitude towards our fellow human beings.
Understandably, the concept of an “illegal alien” is harrowing and bothersome; perhaps this is why the Library of Congress banned the term from the modern American vernacular. The idea that anyone can enter our borders is terrifying. However, coming from a former immigrant, I can testify that it is not at all easy to enter American boundaries. One must jump through many loopholes, even to the extent that one must give up their rights —including their educational degrees. Take it from me: my father and my mother immigrated to the United Kingdom as a stepping stone to immigrating to the United States. Our lives in England were not perfect but ideal. We had the car, house and my parents earned a more-than-meager salary.
They taught me that it was possible to achieve the American dream outside of United States boundaries.
When having finally reached the U.S., my family and I were illegal aliens for almost two months. My parents both held Bachelor’s degrees in Nursing, with 7+ years of experience, and we were still labeled — no, branded — as illegal aliens. I understand that two months is nothing compared to others (my dad’s best friend was an illegal alien for years and had to jump from hospital to hospital due to his lack of a green card). However, the idea of being branded as an illegal alien — not just an immigrant — was and still is particularly haunting.
It is, first and foremost, the reason why I choose to always do excel in everything that I do. Perhaps there will always be something inside of me that is afraid that if I do not do well, then I will be deported. I know that it is silly since I am now a naturalized citizen of the United States (a process that took 7 years).
Perhaps the question we should ask is not whether one holds a blue passport; perhaps the question is what our definitions are of an “American” and who is worthy enough to receive a golden ticket and why and how can we judge one’s worthiness.