I meant to write this months ago, when Trump decided to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). There was a line I heard repeatedly in articles, from reporters, from observers and families themselves. From, “the United States is the only home I’ve/they’ve ever known,” to “I’ve/they’ve never even been the country my/their parents are from,” and “I/they only speak English!”
I just finished editing an immigration appeal letter two nights ago for a family member, and I saw the argument present itself again, “her son is only familiar with the United States, he doesn’t even speak Spanish.” Taking an eight year old away from their neighborhood, their school, their friends, their city, and sending them to a different country they don’t speak the language of and are not used to their societal and culture norms is very abrupt and cruel. I am not saying it isn’t, however, what I would like to say is if a child, a student, an adult, is bilingual, has visited the country his family immigrated from, is proud of both his cultures, they too should still have just as much of a right to remain living in the United States.
I know the argument presented about “the U.S. is all I know,” is a valid one. It’s an important one that needs to be heard. What I don’t want it to do is to invalidate the others who are familiar with both sides of the coin, and make them feel like “well…I do know my family’s home country, I do speak their language, does that mean I am not as American?”
Because the argument of “the U.S. is all I know,” is to prove the legitimate authenticity of the way a human being feels about the country they live in, that they are as American as it can get and to force them to leave the only country they know as home is merciless and tyrannical. It is. But a human being that does have ties to the country their family immigrated from, who may not feel “All American” should get the right stay in this country and to visit the home of their ancestors as well. They should be able to feel just as American, as they are Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Cuban, Vietnamese, and so on. They can own both of them.
I think what bruises my heart is that this argument should even be presented in the first place, because a human being has to prove that their families possibly let go of their former homes to stay in a new country, forget the languages and cultures, to become as Americanized as they have and make the argument present to be able to stay. I do understand that there are situations where a family will want to lose ties with their former cultures, I just don’t want it to be an expectation to have to convince ‘authorities’ why someone should be able to stay in the United States.
People should have the ability to love and embrace the cultures they would like to, and be able to still call themselves Americans and live in this country peacefully. To reiterate, this argument and point is significant and meaningful, but so is the right to be familiar with more than one country and still have the ability to stay and call one of them your permanent home.