An open letter to immigrants

Dear immigrants and refugees of the world,

I know that you have gone through things that you will never be able to convey to anyone. You are a part of something special — the phenomenon of migration — unlike that of birds or whales, but something equally majestic. You made this decision (or did not) to leave what had formally been your permanent home and settle somewhere that, despite its physical beauty, was terrifying and foreign and likely seemed like it would swallow you whole. I know you feared at times that everything you had would eventually be lost to the daily struggle of living, steeped in the foreignness of that strange land. Your family and friends, along with the things you loved as a child, your language, and your personality could be taken from you forever and the worst part is that there would be no one around to know it was happening.

I know that you have broken down in tears that are unstoppable. And you don’t know exactly why you are crying at this moment, on this airport runway, on the subway, or at the end of a long work day but you also know that it is not one thing but everything. You carry around a black stone in your chest that starts out small but, with the little stresses of every day, grows and grows until you feel like you are being crushed from the inside. On these days, you feel like you will surely die if you do not see your hometown and hug your parents at once, but that is almost never an option.

Sacrifice is something that the immigrant knows more intimately than anyone, and yet you are called selfish. Long days at work, at a job that you took because you had no other choice, seem endless. And yet, someone still calls you lazy. When you finally feel you can confide in someone, the build-up of a million little struggles pours out of you, and they call you “ungrateful.”

Well, they do not know. They will never know that you have done something that they could not dream of doing in a million lifetimes. But know that you have withstood it, and you have also become stronger than they could ever be. While their patriotism runs in their blood from the moment their born, yours is hard-won through every moment that you stayed in this country and loved it despite its billions of flaws.

No one else may tell you this, so I will. You are not only enough, you are far more. You are neither selfish, nor lazy, nor ungrateful. You are part of a global flock of people who has endured what no human is supposed to endure, and ever stronger as you continue to live every day as if a war is not raging inside of you.