Immigrants and Refugees in the United States Have More to Give

From state to state, families are torn apart as their loved ones are detained and deported. The result prompts panic. Many are fearful and uncertain about their futures and well being.

When immigrants and refugees settle in the United States, starting a new chapter in their lives may seem like a tremendous feat, but it is the opportunity and hope that enables many to leave- regardless of the life threatening risks. No matter the obstacles. No matter how long it takes. Even when immigrants and refugees have very little, they possess the will to persevere.

The possibilities empowered my family to leave Mexico and thus birth a multicultural generation of dreamers and warriors. I am the product of love. Not of hatred. I am the result of many cultures diverging and transforming together, on a path that is not kind to either of my identities- black or Mexican. I am the daughter of an immigrant who is a naturalized citizen. Her innovations and contributions to this society have made a lasting impact.

My grandmother embarked on this life altering journey to give, not to take. But to offer more for her children- my mother, aunts, and uncles who have all created a legacy of their own.

They have given their all. Their blood, sweat, and tears. Their time and energy. Their hard work and commitment. Their dedication and perseverance. Their service and support.

Their hands have planted new seeds of prosperity and community.

And it lives on.

We are first generation Americans. We are not here to take anything away from anyone else nor are we are here to stir trouble.

We are here because we worked twice if not three times as hard to be half way as close to a dream that not everybody gets to see come true.

Immigrants and refugees are seeking safety. Many are students, mothers, and children. The deportations and bans who target non threatening individuals will succeed in stirring disorder but will not restore trust.

If we are a multicultural nation, than we must look to our history and the failures of this country. We must look for answers where there are questions and we must hold the perpetrators of injustice accountable.

The perpetrators of injustice are not our Muslim brothers and sisters nor are they Haitian, Mexican, Filipino, or Guatemalan.

And though there are raids and though there are attempts to ban our friends and family, there are millions more reasons for them to stay.

Their children. Our children.

Love begins here. Change begins here. Inclusion and acceptance begins with bridges, not fear mongering and hateful rhetoric and policy.

Why target innocent people in the raids? Why ban family members from seeing one another? Why prevent students from pursuing an education?

It will not solve our problems. It will create more barriers.

When I read the accounts of families that are divided, I can’t help but to fear the worse. I know that documentation protects my loved ones, but it doesn’t prevent the hateful remarks from entering our home. It doesn’t discourage snide comments and stereotypes.

Willful participation throughout these harmful raids and bans on the part of spiteful and intolerant leaders, power hungry authority figures, or do nothings that are quick to voice their hateful opinion but remain inactive in the face of injustice, will be held responsible.

Immigrants and refugees are not to blame for the broken infrastructures of our society.

If hate and greed is the fuel for these outbreaks, Americans must project love and humility. We must be outspoken and bold throughout each and every turn.

Protecting our communities is important but if #ADayWithoutImmigrants showed us anything, it showed us that immigrants make an impact within schools and businesses. Their significance to the economy is undeniable.

When immigrants and refugees are “sent back” to violent territories and poverty stricken areas, or in countries that they do not even recognize, without rhyme or reason, without careful consideration of the circumstances for each specific individual- regardless of the color of their skin or religion, little is being accomplished. More tension will surely arise as chaos and brokenness ensues. These missteps leave more room for error and less room for compassion and dignified solutions.

Let’s continue to give it our all by standing up for one another, by exercising the freedoms and liberties that we have to unify and strengthen our country once more.

The future of our great society depends on what we are willing to give. What we are willing to contribute. What we are willing to change.

So many before us have made sacrifices to ensure that we have opportunity. We must not squander it. We must not surrender the dream.