Artwork by Elena Campos
Instead of waking up to balloons and a chocolate strawberry cake on my eighteenth birthday this year, I was startled by the inner awakening of my political right to vote. I began to realize a newfound importance in the seemingly lengthy and exaggerated words of U.S. politicians, especially as I watched political debates. I found myself asking numerous questions regarding the status of immigration in this country that are unable to be answered at this moment due to the uncertainty of the new President that will be elected in 2020.
“All Mexicans are criminals, just not your husband.” These words, once said to my German-born mother about my Mexican-born father, opened my eyes to a regression in humanity ignited by the current immigration policies and attitudes in the United States. I continue to be disappointed that people in our country still hold biases that dehumanize immigrants. In particular, the immigrants at the border between Mexico and the United States are being attacked for not having official documents or a green card as well as being compared to cattle. Most of these people, who seek to improve their wellbeing, are grouped together with the negative connotation of being criminals and unnecessary burdens. Current immigration policies support the separation and the deportation of families that attempt to live the “American Dream” by accessing greater educational and work opportunities.
Those who “look” or “act” more Mexican tend to receive a larger magnitude of disparaging comments and attacks. Due to my appearance, I am not targeted by the insults from people who support the parts of media that degrade Mexicans and other cultural groups that also have a large number of immigrants. I realize that I am fortunate to “blend in” in these cases, but I am still worried for the victims attacked verbally or physically by ignorant Americans. I get upset from watching multiple videos and reading articles about people harassing others who speak Spanish in public. One particular video that caught my attention involved a woman shopper at a supermarket in Colorado who yelled at two women speaking Spanish to speak English because she claims that “they are in America”. I am in shock that this woman has the nerve to attack others in a public setting for speaking a different language than she is accustomed to. I find her reasoning of poor taste, and I hope she realizes one day that her negative attitude was unjustified.
I am not the only person at St. Mary’s with parents who immigrated from their previous homelands: numerous girls share similar yet unique backgrounds to their families. Saanya Srivastava’s (11) parents are from Bihar, India, and they got married before they moved here.
She says, “My dad was already studying in America because he got a full ride to Ole Miss. My mother had my sister in India and after 6 months my mom came over here. When I was in third grade, my mom, sister and dad became U.S. citizens. Even though my sister was not born in America, she was raised here, so I do not not necessarily feel disconnected from my family. My parents and I have different views on typical subjects because we grew up in different cultures. Not all immigrants are bad by causing any harm, my dad was focused on what he was intending to do.”
Hita Mohan (10), “My father had no opportunities, he was the tenth child from a city in India. He studied and came here and now is studying in one of the best schools of Memphis. He went somewhere else, worked hard, and now is an asset to this country. In my family, we all consider ourselves American.”
Sometimes I wish I could shout “Immigrants are important and deserve to be treated as human beings” into the faces of current officials that are involved in creating the current policies. Instead, I take comfort in the many speakers, programs and organizations that strive to combat the efforts of barring hard working immigrants that hold dream of their futures.
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