Being an Immigrant in America
By Leo Garcia (Proud Immigrant)
Being an immigrant raised in America is such a foreign feeling. When people ask you where you are from, you proudly claim your homeland, while also feeling uneasy with your response. Because, for you, all you have known is America. You are from a foreign country but that country seems to be as foreign to you as it is to Americans themselves. You cling to your culture, while also clawing at any sense of belonging in America.
Being an immigrant in America during pivotal moments, such as presidential elections, brings with it a flurry of emotions. You hear so much news about policies, candidates, and the state of the country. You want to voice your opinion. You care so much but feel as if your input is not needed or valid. You long to speak out but who is there to listen to you? While legally this is not your country, it is the only country that you feel directly impacted by. Not to say you don’t care about your homeland, but the laws of your homeland no longer govern you. The laws of America now do, yet you lack the ability to be heard.
Being an immigrant in America brings with it a constant state of doubt. Your American friends praise your ability to master the American dialect. However, fellow immigrants claim you are being “whitewashed” and consumed by American culture. You struggle to maintain the balance between heritage and assimilation. While trying to maintain your culture, which seems to be slipping away with the sands of time, you are also trying to absorb the habits of those around you. As you grow older, you grow nostalgic of the traditions you shared with your family that were replaced by traditions pushed onto you by those around you. The melting pot that is America seems to be more of a battleground for spices and flavors, all trying to overtake one another.
Being an immigrant in America creates a sense of loneliness. You are told that America is the land of immigrants and that you are welcome. Yet, you hear constantly the envy that is harbored deep in the minds of native-born citizens. You are stealing their jobs, resources, and wealth. But, simultaneously you are paying constantly into the pool of taxes for benefits which you cannot partake in. You feel as if you’ve betrayed your own country. You have left behind your homeland. You are left floating in limbo, not knowing which country will open its door, and which one you want to call home.
Being an immigrant is not easy. It requires giving up your comfort. It requires letting go of parts of your identity. However, it is done with the attempt of accomplishing the most basic goal: survival. America makes it all possible and for that immigrants are grateful. And, although immigrants have left their homeland, they remain grateful for the identity and security it has provided them. Being an immigrant can be a very confusing thing, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
*Here's how author Leo Garcia suggests you can get involved: National Immigration Project
Take Action Now: Immigration