Going into this unit of immigration, I feel as though I had a particularly strong idea of the struggles immigrants, especially from Central America, faced on the journeys to and in the United States. Being born in Guatemala and having the privilege of going back several times since my family moved when I was five, along with growing up in a Latino household that personally knows many undocumented individuals and consider some to be family friends, has given me a greater insight and a more personal insight into immigration in the United States. Even my grandparents immigrated from Peru and Colombia. Also, having completed an extensive immigration unit in the Spanish Dept. of Friends School of Baltimore last year has also helped put me ahead of my peers when it comes to the topic of immigration. In this unit thus far, what has affirmed, challenged, or extended my understanding immigration? An honest answer would have to be nothing because of how personal the topic of immigration is to me.
For starters, both of my childhood nannies in Guatemala left for the United States because of the promise of better lives. These were the women who took care of me from ages zero to five, the women I remember playing in the backyard with, or picking me up from the bus. Now, through the few phone calls we have shared over the course of the years, the difficulty of life in the United States is apparent because of grueling work hours and a fear of deportation. Fast forward to my brother’s early childhood when his own nanny, Rosa, had to leave because of the immigration restrictions of the United States Government. A Salvadoran refugee who sought asylum in Canada during the Salvadoran Civil War, her Canadian citizenship actually made it harder for her to become an American Citizen. Because she couldn’t become a citizen, she had to return to Canada and leave sisters and friends like my family. Now, my family has an undocumented women working for us as a caregiver for my grandfather. She previously worked as a caregiver to my grandmother before she passed away. Her name is Lucy, and despite being an accountant in her native country of Colombia, she now works in my household doing tasks that underutilize her skill set. She had to leave Colombia for safety reasons, but her dream is to return back with her family and build a house on a plot of land she and her husband have already purchased. These are only two of the many undocumented stories and people I know, each one unique and most with some aspect of sadness. Probably one of the most emotional moments I’ve ever been a part of, and an experience that I will probably not forget is the time I visited the border between Guatemala and Mexico with my mom the summer after 7th grade. We visited a Brazilian priest who ran a place where immigrants could stay before starting the most grueling part of their journey to the United States: crossing Mexico. There, we held hands and prayed with men scared of the future, but desperate enough to carry on in hope of a better life in the United States. There, the men broke down into tears.
I have experienced much more than most of my peers when it comes to immigration, so it is unfair to judge the curriculum because I am sure many people are learning from our immigration unit, but personally nothing has challenged and especially not extended my understanding of immigration to the United States. I feel like we haven’t covered much, especially since we all split up into different groups covering different topics, but hope to learn more policy since I believe I have a good grasp on the hardships immigrants endure. Another thing that would be intriguing would be immigrants from other parts of the world (other than South and Central America) and also some information on the US’s stance on refugees. Immigration is a topic that needs to be talked about and thoroughly researched with such a large number of immigrants in the United States, and because of the Refugee crisis in Europe.