Oxfam America staffer Vania Loredo on what the next US president must know about life within a broken immigration system
Dear Future President:
In the 10th grade, my family woke up one morning to a swastika sign painted outside our apartment building. I grew up thinking that this fear would go away. But it has only intensified.
For 18 years we have called the US home. We came to this country from Peru two months after 9/11. Over this time, the way the US has welcomed us and embraced our community has left me with a lot of mixed feelings.
My family and I have felt how racism and fear of “the other” have taken over the media. But we have also seen how people come together and try to help each other. My parents have friends who helped them learn about the best school districts, explore new parts of the country, navigate the confusing medical system, and build a little bit of community. In this way, I feel that our life in the US has been a constant discussion of acceptance and rejection.
In the last three years, I have seen how Latinx communities have felt the brunt of our country’s unfair and changing migration policies that have separated families.
Children are detained in centers without enough food or proper accommodations, stripping them of their dignity. People do not talk enough about the systematic racism and classism migrants face once they cross the border. The consequences of these actions will forever be with the communities they have affected, and they will remember them during this and future voting cycles.
I hope that your administration will create a comprehensive path forward for the 11 million undocumented people living in this country. I hope that future administrations, including yours, recognize the dignity of migrants and refugees. I hope that your administration will address DACA and provide Dreamers and their parents a path to citizenship.
Undocumented migrants contribute billions of dollars to the US economy and are the backbone of this country. I have seen how their work benefits our country. Remember that the food we eat and the places where we go are picked and maintained by migrants.
As someone who was once undocumented, I had to work for free. I did not have the proper documentation to do the work, but I needed the experience. I have seen how opportunities have been taken from me because I did not have the legal status to apply for a paid internship, apply to certain colleges, and get my first job.
The American Dream many migrants chase is fueled with hope and frustration.
I hope we look deeper at the values this country proclaims to have since we all are trying to chase after “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
I hope future generations do not have to go through the trauma and humiliation I grew up with because we all are the future of this country.