The Home Issue
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This is our 20th (20th!!) Issue.
I am humbled that this platform has been the conduit for so many important stories - and thankful that you have come along for the journey. I want The Issue to be a place where everyone belongs. I want it to be a place where we can explore and find joy in our complex, intersectional identities. I want it to be a place where we feel safe celebrating what makes us unique (which, I might add, is often what brings us together).
For this 20th Issue, we have chosen to highlight another RANT. This short piece looks a bit different than anything we’ve published before, but if we’ve learned anything from the last 19 Issues, it’s that there are infinite ways to tell a story. Our contributor pairs his raw, personal experience with some cold, hard facts about immigration and racism. He lays out his story with great patience, allowing us to piece things together ourselves, and leaving us pondering the dilemma of “home” long after we’ve finished reading.
Progress starts with asking the right questions.
HOME - Anonymous
As a first generation immigrant living in the United States, I’ve been told to “go home.” Ironically, when visiting back home, I’ve been told I now talk like a gringo and “don’t belong here anymore.”
So where does that leave me? Where is home?
I’ve always found these sentiments ignorant and even worse, with COVID-19, I worry that they will only grow. As an article I read last month from the Economist states:
“There are emotive reasons why covid-19 might make countries less willing to accept foreigners even after a vaccine is discovered and the pandemic is suppressed. People are scared: not only of this pandemic but also of the next. Many associate foreigners with disease… Suspicion of foreigners is why people who look Chinese have been harassed in many countries, and people who look African have been harassed in China. It is why President Donald Trump has boasted about banning Chinese travellers (even as he downplayed masks), and why one of the South African government’s first actions to curb covid-19 was to build a fence on the border with Zimbabwe (though the virus was already spreading in South Africa).
In addition, covid-19 has caused mass unemployment. Many voters believe that migrants take jobs from the native-born, and so would keep curbs on immigration even after other travel restrictions are loosened.”
Additionally, it seems to me, that these nationalistic and often racist perspectives are about as illogical and economically destructive as they are morally questionable. As the article continues to argue:
“The idea that more migrants means fewer jobs for locals in the long run is an example of the fallacy that the economy has a fixed “lump of labour”... Migrants are also over-represented among those who make it possible for others to work safely and productively at home, by harvesting and processing food, delivering parcels and fixing software bugs. They turbocharge innovation, too. Some 40% of medical and life scientists in America are foreign-born. Vaccine research depends on large teams of talents from all around the world. Half the big American tech firms were founded by a first- or second-generation immigrant. If the founder of Zoom had never left China, locked-down professionals might not even know what their colleagues’ bookshelves look like.”
I’ve personally seen and know first generation immigrants who have come to the United States and not only spend money on American goods and services, but also employ others, pay taxes, work in hospitals and the tech industry, and educate America’s youth. I encourage you to educate yourself on the benefits of immigration and continue to challenge yourself to keep racism and ignorance out of this and any future pandemic.
Let’s make everyone feel at home.
MORE TO THE STORY
Our anonymous author included a few short passages from "Locked Out: As the pandemic recedes, let migrants move again," an article recently featured in The Economist. If you have a subscription and want to read more, you can check it out here.
Did you read Estella Amaya's essay "Not Your Token Brown Girl" back in April? Estella grapples with the challenges of growing up as a first generation immigrant and trying to forge a path in politics. Read her words in our 14th Issue.
For a more in-depth dive into the experiences and unique challenges faced by young first generation immigrants - or the 1.5 generation - check out this study conducted at the University of Northern Colorado. (And if you don't have time for heavy reading, just jump to page 18 for a succinct but comprehensive picture!)