I am the daughter of immigrants, as are most of my classmates (if not immigrants themselves). I believe it is very important for everybody to know that we live in a nation of refugees and immigrants. Unless your ancestors are Native American or were kidnapped from Africa and brought here as slaves, immigrants and refugees are your parents, grandparents, and so on.
I was always somewhat aware of the importance of immigrants. As a younger child, I asked my mother, who is Mexican, why all the workers in San Francisco restaurant kitchens were latino. She answered that it wasn’t because all latinos are good cooks (much to my surprise), but because they might not have that many opportunities outside the kitchen. She explained that they might not have a college education, or might not speak English well enough. That’s when I realized that immigrants do much of the work that goes unseen. They clean the streets and buildings, wash the dishes, harvest and make the food, and so much more. They often do the jobs nobody else is willing to do.
Immigration laws today are unfair, because they pretend we do not need the labor of immigrants in our society, make it difficult for them to come here legally, and force them to live in fear.
It broke my heart when a classmate told me, “You’re so lucky your Mom has papers.” No wonder he has trouble focusing on schoolwork.
Americans have always been afraid of new immigrant groups. John F. Kennedy, arguably one of the bravest and most respected presidents of all time, was of Irish descent. The Irish used to be stereotyped as feisty alcoholics who liked to brawl. I find this funny because my Irish-born father would rather read a book than fight at a bar.
We need to destroy these stereotypes and tell the truth about immigrants, and how they are crucial to our society. We need to appreciate what they bring to our country. Immigrants diversify our country's culture and uphold the values of determination, hard work, and resilience, core American values. Immigrants, refugees, and their children also start businesses, from small grocery stores and restaurants to giant corporations like Apple and Google. And that means that they create jobs for others, too.
Right now, the most I can do is write to senators and legislators who believe in improving our immigration laws to show them that they have support. I can also be an empathetic ear to my classmates, help them stay on task academically, and keep their minds off the worry and uncertainty of what could happen if their parents are deported.