The realities of immigration

Hogar Immigrant Services is a Catholic organization dedicated to help
immigrants become self-sufficient and productive members of American
society. As part of the Branch Out National alternative break, I had the
opportunity to work with them and digitize closed immigrant case files
they have handled in the past 30 years as well as assist clients in a
one day naturalization workshop. As a group project, we were also
granted permission to interview clients for an awareness media
production discussing the realities of immigration and naturalization.

indexThis experience has completely opened my eyes to a serious issue I had
disregarded in the past. Immigrants have been confined to strict U.S.
immigration laws that call for immediate reform. Contrastingly,
hundred-thousands of immigrants’ lives have changed positively with the
prospects that come with becoming a legal resident or even a citizen of
the United States. As I interviewed two Honduran sisters, 10 and 14, I
realized that they were no less American than any American citizen. They
came to America as a toddler, at the age of 1 and 5 respectively, and
grew up attending an American school. However, before the help of Hogar,
after 10 years of growing up in an American society, they were being
threatened with deportation by the U.S. immigration. I was shaken by the
thought of being kicked out and forced to live in an unfamiliar country
at such a fragile age in development. At young ages, these girls had to
balance school, family, friends, as well as court cases to settle their
immigrant status. They had to deal with issues many of us have the
privilege of passing because of our citizenship/U.S. status privileges.

The entire experience working with Hogar has humbled me as I realized how
many times I have participated in stereotyping immigrants in casual
conversations with my friends. As an active citizen, I plan to spread
awareness by speaking about the realities of immigration whenever the
opportunity arises and educating those around me about the issues
associated with immigration. I believe I am fortunate to have had such
an eye opening and humbling experience. I hope everyone gets the
opportunity to live as active citizens sometime in their lifetime as
they will realize it is a truly heartwarming phase.

by Clarissa Santoso