Immigrating to the United States can be a sobering and scary experience. Many individuals who wish to immigrate to the U.S. are escaping serious problems in their home countries, such as poverty or violence.
People moving to the U.S. seek the possibility of a better life for themselves and their families and believe the reward outweighs the risk.
In the first part of my series, I discussed my aunt Judith Stone’s experience immigrating to the U.S. from the Netherlands. Although she faced obstacles and challenges, the experiences faced by European immigrants likely differ from those from non-white countries.
There are many stereotypes that Hispanic immigrants face that European immigrants do not. For example, there is a political narrative that exists insinuating immigrants from Mexico could be drug dealers or criminals. Although this isn’t representative of public opinion, it’s still a negative stereotype.
Negative stereotypes like this aren’t as common for other immigrants, specifically those who are white.
THE STORY OF AN IMMIGRANT FAMILY
In order to understand the experiences of immigrants, it is important to listen to their stories. “TIME Magazine” did a feature documenting the stories of different immigrants which provides a personal look into their experiences.
One emotional story described the experience of parents Violeta Monterroso and Cándido Calderón, who came to the U.S. with their three children, all under the age of 12. The family escaped Guatemala, having no choice but to leave after a gang threatened to murder their children if they didn’t pay an extremely high bribe. This bribe would have cost them over five months’ worth of profits, so it wasn’t an option.
When arriving in the U.S. in late November 2018, they added their names to a long list of families. Over 5,000 migrants’ names were ahead of them on this list, and they expected it could take months before their names were read. Due to new immigration policies in the U.S., only 40 to 100 requests could be processed each day by authorities.
According to the TIME article, more than 159,000 migrants filed for asylum in the U.S. in 2018. This is a 274% increase since 2008. Clearly, there are many people who are not safe in their home countries, and are willing to risk it all for a better life.
JUDITH STONE’S TAKE ON IMMIGRATION
As someone who has been through the process herself, my aunt Judith’s opinion is important to me.
“Although I immigrated to the U.S., it was never a life-or-death situation,” she says. “I had a perfectly good life in the Netherlands, but chose to move here to be with [my husband] and start a family.”
“It is hard to put myself in the shoes of immigrants who have no where else to go,” she adds. “They must feel unwanted or unsafe in their home country, and then come to the U.S. feeling even more unwanted. It is difficult for anyone.”