Immigration hits close to home for some students

Students share their stories in response to “America First” policy

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Amidst all of Trump’s talk of building a wall, the attitude towards immigration seems to have become increasingly less friendly.

The United States is a country full of people from every continent, which is seldom brought up in national dialogue. Senior Brandon Lee, who immigrated from Korea to the U.S. when he was just one, was naturalized four years ago. He believes that politics have the tendency to stand in the way of making progress.

“Valid concessions could be made on both sides of the argument. Unfortunately, it’s too easy to appeal to very select, often unforgiving voter bases, leading to the current political deadlock,” stated Lee.

Junior Tristan Gomez has moved from France to England to the United States and noted that discovering other points of view helps one be more open and accepting of those who might be deemed “different.”

“It seems like each party wants to stick by themselves and not discover what other cultures can offer, which is so strange to me how people can live by each other, yet completely neglect each other due to their differences,” said Gomez.

As a daughter of a Colombian immigrant, senior Andrea Blood-Guerrero expressed her disheartenment with Trump’s push for a border between the U.S. and Mexico.

“Even if it was brought up with the intention to increase safety, it seems to have only increased racism and religious discrimination, all of which ultimately breeds violence. Immigration allows for new perspectives, which helps our nation grow,” said Blood-Guerrero.

She also noted that without immigration, powerhouse American companies such as Tesla and Google may never have come to fruition. Elon Musk is a South Africa native and Sergey Brin hails from Moscow.

Some who are anti-immigration maintain the idea immigrants “steal” jobs from other hard-working U.S. citizens. However, senior Skye Ko, from Korea, claimed that this is far from the truth.

“My family usually ‘stole’ the jobs no one ever wanted. And when we work our way up to a higher education and sacrifice everything to obtain and maintain a decent job, many are offended? We worked equally as hard and are just picking the fruits of our back-breaking labor,” said Ko.

While her mother was constantly working, she assumed responsibility over her younger siblings. Ko explained that immigrants sacrifice “sleep, meals, hygiene, and even sanity to get by and provide a life for their families.” For a lot of immigrants, the transition to a foreign country is difficult and adjusting to a new life is an arduous process. Ko and her family immigrated to America before she was able to talk, and lived in Georgia before moving to Chicago.

“I experienced culture shock first-hand when I found out there were people that didn’t look like me. I didn’t think it was possible for people to be born with blue eyes and blonde hair,” she explained.

In the process of adapting to a new culture, language barriers can be a daunting obstacle. “Early in elementary school, before moving to the North Shore, my English was awful. I attempted to get by with my lack of proficiency in the foreign language, but others would always remark with ‘Don’t bother explaining to her, she doesn’t even understand us,’” said Ko.

Because Ko believed that her shortcomings in English were the root of her problems, she explained that she stayed up well past midnight pouring over textbooks in order to learn phonetics and proper syntax, at six to seven years old.

Blood-Guerrero’s mother also faced issues with communication when she came to the U.S. at 28 years old from Colombia with her childhood best friend.

“They both knew very little English at the time which made it difficult for them to find steady jobs.

“My mom’s first real job was working in a factory making key chains for the Chicago Bulls. From a very young age she pushed my brothers and I to work hard in school and take advantage of the opportunities that were given to us,” said Blood-Guerrero.

Trump’s rhetoric has caused tensions between parties, fueling incidents such as the conflict at the March for Life in Washington D.C. between Covington Catholic

High School students and Native American advocate, Nathan Phillips. This video went viral, and people jumped to conclusions about what appeared like white nationalism at first glance.

In today’s climate, it’s difficult to remember that at heart, America is a nation of immigrants with varying levels of assimilation, and that despite the issues that immigration may cause, immigrants contribute positively to the U.S.

“Historically, America’s incredible diversity, the fact that America wasn’t defined as a nation centered around a single ethnicity or culture, has been one of the things that made it unique. Moreover, immigration is not only helpful to the growth of our country, it is essential,” stated Lee.

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