Overlapping Worlds – An Ode to Immigrants

If you’ve read any of the posts yet in this series, you know that my husband is an immigrant. So, today I’d like to spend a few moments simply publicly appreciating him and the countless immigrants that make this country such an amazing place to live.

I almost didn’t write this post, because it felt a bit duplicative.  The last Overlapping Worlds post I did focused on Haiti, in the context of the President’s comments regarding Haiti in immigration policy discussions. And yet, in the end I’ve decided to go forward with it – because, after all, the need for redundancy, if any, is borne from the incessant remarks of this administration that merit refutation.

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A couple of weeks ago, the President addressed immigration in his State of the Union address. With a rhetoric of hatred and deliberate fear-mongering, he basically equated all immigrants with MS-13; he intimated that chain migration leads to terrorism; and he proposed a drastic and crippling curtailment of legal immigration (in addition to his already draconian approach to folks who are currently living in this country without status).

I imagine that this gross mischaracterization (to put it lightly) falls on the ears and busy lives of Americans in one of a few ways:

1) complete and utter frustration from a huge swath of Americans who unequivocally disagree with this characterization, who know it is false, and yet do not have the time or energy to fight back against every ridiculous and atrocious thing this administration does;

2) anger (laced with righteous indignation), which has led to action in support of immigrants;

3) indifference, as to this and most everything else in the political realm that are driving wedges between family and friends, out of a sheer desire to stay out of the fray;

4) “but, abortion…”;

5) fear, on the part of immigrants, for their children, their parents, their siblings, their friends – for their future, their jobs and their lives; and

6) most disturbingly, fear – although, quite different from the well-founded fear set forth above in #5 – of immigrants, harbored by a large swath of Americans, that is inspired and encouraged and deepened by the leadership of our nation.

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To category 1, I’ll say – I am with you. I’m exhausted too. And, thanks for taking up the causes you have taken on – for, none of us can do everything, but together we can do something significant in our own little ways, as we are able… each of us chipping away at the damaging policies (so many folks running for office for the first time!), the lies (thank you @NYTimes!), the hatred (thank you, to everyone who has raised a voice to overpower the one of oppression coming from our administration). I’m so, so inspired by so many of you day in and day out.

To category 2, I’ll say – You are amazing. Thanks for picking this battle, and you’ve got everyone in #1 behind you cheering you on.

To category 3, I’ll say – I get it (read: my exhaustion in #1), and I agree that the increased relational conflicts from politics as of late is in and of itself a HUGE issue – one that we should all work to lessen and heal, but I’d encourage you to jump in from time to time in small ways – like finding one way to do one thing (it can even be a smile!) to acknowledge the dignity and worth of an immigrant, or to make someone feel loved, welcome or safe.

To category 4, I’ll say – If your #1 issue is the flourishing of human life, why would that position only be so fervently and unwaveringly held prior to the exit from the womb? The issue of immigration is inextricably linked with the flourishing of human life; when we speak of immigrants, we are always speaking of living, breathing humans made in the image of God – of fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers – whose lives can be, and are regularly, endangered by unfavorable policies.

To category 5, I’ll say – You are, truly, what makes this country great. You master multiple languages; pursue (and achieve) studies in higher education both here and abroad; you navigate multiple cultures and mindsets and worlds – and move seamlessly from one to the other – existing (or seeming to) so comfortably in all; you pick yourselves up when you fall; you support your families, both here and in your countries of birth; you make unbelievable emotional, physical, financial and mental sacrifices simply so that your children can have a better life than you; you start businesses; you employ others; you write; you produce; you sing; you dance; you dream; you love; you cherish; you give; you bring fresh hope to tired corners of this nation; you work tirelessly, sometimes for little pay; you know the weight and sacrifice of saying goodbye to one home and building a new one; you know the bizarre mixture of pain and pride at seeing your child grow up accustomed to the culture of this country, and yet with every year growing farther from the home and culture and country of your own childhood and birth; you spend years and fortunes and tears of worry waiting on an unreliable and underfunded system to grant you status; you come from wealth; you come from poverty; you come from mountain villages; you come from big cities; you are some of these things; you are none of these things; you are all of these things; you are from all across the globe and yet this one nation has the privilege of having you all here, building it up, and making it great.

Thank you, to the lifeblood, the hope, and the beauty of this nation – for your perseverance, in the face of attacks from our leadership; for your hope, in a country that has not often granted you the respect you deserve; and for the patience, kindness and love I have felt from so many of you personally. I am so glad you are here.

To category 6, I’ll say – I invite you to meet my husband, to know him, to see that he is the exact opposite of the picture of immigrants that is put forth by our President. I invite you to build a relationship with any immigrant, and you will see that the narrative spun by this administration is false. I invite you to remove this from politics, from policies and from right or left – and to make it personal. Get to know the folks your politics are harming before leaning so hard and unwaveringly on your positions. And, I imagine that a large number of you have loving hearts with room to spare for new relationships, just as our nation has plenty of space for all.

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Hugs and love to all and, as always, thanks for reading. xoxo

(Photo by Wendy Hitch.)