It seemed painfully ironic that just two short weeks after I completed a school project on undocumented immigrants and their families, the Trump administration repealed DACA. Documentation status was never something I thought much about. My parents both were naturalized long before I was born, and although their paths to citizenship were different, the legality of either path was never questioned.
My first exposure to immigration issues involved sitting down to talk to mothers with undocumented family members. I quickly learned about the complexities of legality, the question of citizenship, and the various ramifications of even being marginally associated with immigration. Through course readings, personal anecdotes, and some extensive research, I put together a project about the impacts of documentation status on young children. This sparked my interest in immigrant justice.
No one was truly prepared for the repeal of DACA, but I believe that it was my privilege that allowed me to be so willfully ignorant up to this point. Moving forward, I vowed not to turn a convenient blind eye.
The more I researched, the more I realized that there was more diversity amongst DACAmented folks than I had previously assumed. In fact, large portions of DACA recipients already belonged to communities that I had experience organizing with. They dealt with all-too-familiar issues and -isms that we don’t typically associate with undocumented communities. Despite the large activist presence on our campuses, we often fail to use an intersectional approach and, in turn, fail to mobilize resources for the most affected communities.
Immigrant justice extends beyond amnesty or policy reform. It means creating an environment that people feel welcome migrating to. We must recognize why people leave their countries in the first place and ensure that we do not perpetuate these same conditions.
According to Asian Americans Advancing Justice, of the undocumented community in the United States, 11 percent are Asian American, 20 percent of whom are protected under DACA stipulations. These people are regularly excluded by thousands of people from the conversation surrounding immigration, thus invalidating their narratives.
Immigrants do not solely come from Asian and Latin American countries. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Jamaica and Nigeria, predominantly black countries, are also top sources of immigrants.
Like their domestically born counterparts, black immigrants are also victims of racism. President Trump conflation of the influx of black immigrants with the increase in crime in certain cities highlights the intersection between anti-blackness and xenophobia.
Imperialism is alive and well, directly causing the conditions that result in immigration. For example, due to U.S. trade deals with Mexico, irresponsible companies can take advantage of inhumane labor conditions (and hence Mexican workers). This exploitation prompts workers to look for better life options that are supposedly promised to American workers.
Immigrant justice is a powerful force against U.S. imperialism. But it will never stand a chance against fascist policies and administrations if we do not recognize the commonalities in our experiences as immigrants and descendents of immigrants. The people, united, will never be divided.