May 3, 2009 § Leave a comment
I just finished watching the movie, “The Visitor”, and it really got me to thinking about the stories of immigrants and just a sense of belonging for all of us as human beings.
Isn’t a sense of belonging what we are all struggling for? A space within which we feel safe, uninhibited, and whole? And if that is what we all are searching for, why do we fault immigrants for coming to this country and trying to do so?
I have met so many individuals in the past year who are not from the United States of America — so many individuals, whether or not they are legally here, who are striving to find their space of belonging. And for so many of them, they believe they will find that space here in the United States of America. Yet, unfortunately, so many of them find out that the harsh reality is that their permanence in this country is wholly dependent upon the mood of the U.S.A. Great example: pre-911, the U.S. was fine with immigrants coming and going…post-911, everyone who is foreign becomes a terrorist.
It always strikes me as ironic how America can embrace and yet reject people who are so crucial to the existence of this country. This country was “discovered” by people who were not of this land. This country was built by people who were dragged to this land. This country has been sustained by peoples who were consistently marginalized and had to literally fight their way to even be recognized by the ‘mainstream’. And for what? To still be spit in the face by those who were born in this country and automatically have the privilege of citizenship?
My parents were immigrants and I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I was not born an American. How would I be treated? What would my struggles feel and look like? Would I ever be able to become a citizen or would I always be on the outside looking in? These are all things I do not ever have to think about except for when I speak to one of my old roomies about her struggles to find work even with a Masters degree in this country. Or when I speak to another roomie who struggles to stay in this country and find work before her visa runs out. Or when I watch this movie and see how people’s lives are completely turned and ripped inside out just for being immigrants.
To never have to feel like a visitor is a privilege that I take for granted. To know that no one can contest my citizenship, that no one can physically remove me from my space? Quite a privilege indeed.