Although visiting a new place can be frightening, imagine having to move to a completely different country in hopes of starting a better life. This is what many immigrants do with their families without realizing how greatly it will impact them. They are also unaware of how much they will struggle in a new culture that they, for the most part, know nothing about; making it difficult for them to find resources that are willing to help them, especially right now with the current political climate.
Countless innocent people are being impacted by the current immigration laws: fortunately, organizations such as Northwest Seasonal Workers and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are attempting to make a difference by providing free legal counseling and allowing immigrant children and adolescents to reach higher education. One of the first obstacles that these families have to go through is getting into the country, either legally or illegally. Getting into the country legally is the safest way; however, it can the most time-consuming.
It can take anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years for someone’s case to be processed. When immigrating to the country, immigrants have a ery difficult time with things such as “finding a job, and slowly moving up the social ladder,” especially for undocumented immigrants (Nunez). This can be due to factors such as a language barrier. For undocumented immigrants, it is much more difficult because they do not have any form of documentation such as a social security number or a green card that states whether or not they are allowed into the country.
Not only that, but unemployment can also lead to other financial barriers, such as not being able to afford housing, transportation, or food. This could motivate desperate actions, uch as having to steal in order to have a meal on the table. Additionally, immigrant families have to be careful because they are also running the risk of being separated. Many parents “leave [their children] behind,” while others decide to bring them along when immigrating (Nazario).
A reason as to why a parent would leave their child is so that they could “send money home so their children can eat and go to school” instead of having to adapt to a whole new place and culture (Nazario). However, a negative effect of leaving their children in their home country is that “many of these children deeply resent their [parents]” for eaving them behind (Nazario). In other words, depending on the child’s view, they will either appreciate their parent’s hard work and sacrifice, or they will grow up thinking that their parents abandoned them to go work in a different country.
Either way, the child is growing up without her parents there to see her grow up and instill their values in them. On the other hand, there are illegal immigrants that have to be careful as far as not drawing any attention to themselves because it could lead to them being deported back to their country of origin. There can be major repercussions that come along with eporting a member of an immigrant family; one of them being their children being taken away from them. If an immigrant parent is deported and has children that are U. S. itizens, the child is not allowed to leave with the parent; they are to stay in the States and are put into foster care. An estimate of about two hundred thousand parents were deported between 2010 and 2012, leaving five thousand children in the foster care system (Nazario). In other words, undocumented parents are forced to leave their children in the States alone to be kept in the system or to possibly be adopted, thus effectively giving up their arental rights. This is an issue because even though they have already been caught, many try and are able to return.
In trying to return, they are once again risking their lives by coming into the country in dangerous ways, such as through the desert or through the Rio Grande. Of course there are many families that get deported, but there are also families that have been here for most of their lives and have not been caught. So , those children with immigrant parents tend to be more motivated. Generally speaking, “first generation children function at.. higher levels” than an average american-born child (Weissbourd).
To put it differently, first-generation american children with immigrant parents tend to do better academically. This is usually due to the children either seeing how much their parents struggle to give them a better life. An example being Chelsea Santos, and it was her “family’s immigrant experiences that drives” her passion to follow her dreams (Growing Up). Luckily, there are organizations who are more than willing to help immigrant families, regardless of their legal status in the United States.
One local organization that has helped families all over Southern Oregon is the Northwest Seasonal Workers Association. Although Northwest is not an association specifically for immigrant families; they have provided many things to this community such as “medical care, food, legal advice and more” (Northwest Seasonal). They are a non-profit organization that also does not take government funding, whose mission it is to help underpaid seasonal and service workers. Once a month they hold events for a specific need in the community.
They get doctors, lawyers, and community members together to go and help at these events for free. The most popular event is the legal counseling. Many immigrant families who can not afford a lawyer attend one or ore of these events in order to be able to present their legal case to an immigration lawyer in hopes of being told that they qualify for their legal residency to stay in the country. There was also a document set in place under the Obama administration that was meant to help out immigrant students who wanted to pursue further education in the United States.
The name of this document is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (also known as DACA). This document was meant to provide “undocumented youth with a two year reprieve from the threat of deportation” while also allowing hem to apply for work permits (Undocumented Youth). However this is only a “temporary victory” seeing that it is not an official law and that the current president has looked at possibly removing it, even though it has “helped 700,000 undocumented immigrants” (Undocumented Youth).
Most tend to forget that the United States is an immigrant country; that it was founded by immigrants from Europe who took the land that was from the Native americans who here long before the Europeans “discovered” America. Once the fact of America being the country of immigrants is accepted, then there is the possibility of helping the immigrant community in a ore impactful way, such as passing a new pro-immigrant law.
This could be a law that would allow more citizens from different counties to enter the United States as legal residents; of course they would have to go through a process that would include background checks, etc. Once immigrant families were to be more widely accepted, and throughout the communities around the United States, they would not be seen as “job stealers,” “thieves,” “criminals,” or “rapist, ” but instead they could be seen as what they truly are: human beings that are trying to live their version of “the American dream”“.