A Dutch Woman’s Immigration Experience: Part 2 of 3

The Color Purple 2023

Facts on Immigration in the United States

Many people consider living in the U.S. to be a privilege. People who are struggling in other countries see the U.S. as a place of opportunity and possibility. There is the concept of the “American Dream,” which holds the notion that anything is possible in the U.S. if you work hard enough.

According to the 2019 Current Population Survey, approximately 90 million people, or 28 percent of the U.S. population, are immigrants or U.S. born children of immigrants. Studies project that by 2065, the immigrant-origin population will rise to about 36 percent. 

The majority of immigrants in the U.S. are from Mexico, comprising about 25 percent. Indians represent the second-largest immigrant share at about 6 percent. As of 2018, the top five states that people immigrated to were Calif., Texas, Fla., New York, and New Jersey.

Reasons for Immigrating to the U.S.

There are numerous reasons for someone to immigrate to the U.S. from another country. As mentioned previously, many people believe that moving to the U.S. will give them better career opportunities. Economic and financial reasons are definitely a big motivator. Some people may move to the U.S. to provide a better life for their families, or to make enough money to send back to their families

Many people who immigrate to the U.S. are escaping violence or conflict in their country. Others may be facing issues such as poverty or seeking refuge due to natural disasters. In my Aunt’s case, whom I interviewed for the first part of this series, she immigrated to start a life with her husband who lived in the U.S.

An Immigrant’s Child’s Point of View

In the first part of this series, I interviewed my aunt Judith who immigrated to the U.S. from the Netherlands. For this part of the series, I interviewed her daughter, who is my cousin, to get a perspective from a U.S.-born child of an immigrant. 

My cousin was born in the U.S. in 2002, while my aunt was still living in the U.S. with a green card. Growing up, my aunt spoke both Dutch and English to my cousin, so she is now bilingual. She also holds citizenship in both the Netherlands and the U.S., giving her dual citizenship. 

Photo of the Parliament in the Netherlands
Photo taken in the Netherlands. Source: YahooImages, Free to share and use

During our interview, I asked my cousin what it was like growing up while straddling two languages and cultures. “I never felt like I had two separate identities or anything. European culture and American culture are similar in many ways and I’ve always had a good mix of both, especially traveling to Europe twice a year and seeing my family there who only speak Dutch,” she says. 

She did bring up how she faced some difficulties as a younger kid because she would speak in a mix of Dutch and English. My cousin stated, “I remember getting teased when I was younger because I had a Dutch accent, and I would start a sentence speaking in English and end up finishing it in Dutch without realizing.”

She followed this up by saying, “I never knew it was considered strange until my friends brought it up. I was so used to hearing my mom speak in a mix of English and Dutch that I didn’t realize people couldn’t understand me.” She concluded by stating how proud she was to be a dual citizen and acknowledging that other immigrant families do not have the privilege that hers does.

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