I took a trip to Cancun with my mother when I was 7 or so and I remember rummaging through her bag looking for money and candy when I came across an identification card that had my mother’s face on it and the words “RESIDENT ALIEN” in boldface. I was confused, more than anything. My mom was strange, no one can deny that, but to call her an “alien” was a bit much. I put the card back in its place and continued my hunt for goods.
Reflecting on this episode I can’t help but think about how some people (like my mother) who are not originally from this country, but come here to work and live, are treated as just that; aliens. Now, I know that my mother was very fortunate in having such a document at the time, because a lot of people who came to this country in search of the “American dream”, just as she did, did not have such a privilege. Last year there were an estimated 11.2 million illegal immigrants living in the United States and that alone is proof that the quest to come to the infamous “land of the free and the home of the brave” is alive and well.
Today, more immigrant voices are being heard than ever before. A friend recently forwarded me an article from earlier this year about an immigrant from the Philippines and his struggles being undocumented in the U.S. My experience in Colorado has been that when someone refers to immigrants or the topic of immigration in the slightest bit, images of Latinos (specifically Mexicans) are conjured in the mind, so it was very interesting to learn about an immigrant experience from a Filipino perspective. As I read the article, I couldn’t help but feel the author’s anxiety and overall pain about his situation as an illegal alien in this country. The fears of who’s knocking at the door or of who’s going to be deported tomorrow are very real aspects to some people’s lives in our community, and they aren’t without warrant; the Obama administration has deported more than 800,000 people in the past two years.
We Americans live in the wealthiest and most powerful country in the history of mankind. The reach, power and influence of our country is astounding, yet we are still such a close-minded society that gives little or no credit to a fundamental element of its infrastructure, the immigrant communities. Regardless of if you are pro or anti-immigration, give yourself some time to read this article and maybe your eyes will be opened a little bit. Maybe you’ll learn something and maybe you might understand someone else’s struggle. A struggle that is shared by millions who are simply in search of the “American Dream” in the land of milk and honey.
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