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.