Yet these same people also went on to accomplish great things and put their skills to use for the betterment of society. One man completed his medical boards and currently works in a Boston hospital. Another earned a master’s degree in trauma therapy while raising her daughter, who is now an enlisted U.S. Marine. Others finished nursing school or worked as translators and computer programmers. The fierce resiliency of their lives and ambitions remain a testament to the very best of what America is and should always be.
These were not individuals stealing jobs, committing crimes and leaching off national resources, as president-elect Donald Trump’s fear and hate-inducing rhetoric has led many to believe. Trump has said that “most illegal immigrants are lower-skilled workers with less education who compete directly against vulnerable American workers.” This view certainly fails to describe the many smart and capable people I met whose skills and language abilities serve as a unique asset to our society.
Today, the bureaucratic process involved in becoming an American citizen and obtaining permanent, legal residence is much more difficult than ever before. Immigration lawyers are expensive and the process is complicated enough to frustrate even fluent English-speaking immigrants unless you apply for EB5 Visa Program. In some states such as Texas, it may take the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a full twenty-four months to even open one’s green card application. Aside from severe backlog, it is impossible for applicants to determine where they stand in the process. Some became stuck in an unending loop of work visa approvals and reapplications. Such confusion and endless difficulties leave many undocumented immigrants unable to navigate through the system with success. In such situations, it is advised to contact experienced Title IX lawyers for hire to give you legal counselling and represent your interests.
They may also struggle to maintain a stable income, as few employers will hire someone lacking a Social Security Number. Even in Massachusetts, there remains only a limited number of programs that help fulfill basic needs such as food and shelter. Such circumstances put many at risk of homelessness and even further violence and suffering. Those seeking a U visa, which is given to survivors of violent crimes and sexual assault, face years of rejection and reapplication before an unlikely approval is given. Many individuals labeled by the media as “migrants” are actually asylum-seekers, who are seeking refuge from extreme violence. Yet such important nuance is sure to be lost. Language is changing in the Trump era as xenophobia, racism and white nationalism become normalized in favor of a post-PC society, where insensitivity and hatred outweighs morality, logic and basic human decency.
As a descendent of undocumented migrant workers, I cannot ignore the blatant hypocrisy and ignorance that so often enters the current conversation surrounding immigration today. I continue to encounter Americans who fervently believe that their ancestors’ arrival to this country was without legal question, never considering the immigration laws that were set in place at the time. Given the popularity of genealogy websites, perhaps they should take a closer look at their own family histories. They might find that their ancestors had some things in common with the undocumented immigrants of today.
This essay is part of our ongoing essays series focused on responding to the 2016 Presidential election.