During the 40’s the immigration process was a lot easier because it was not as backed up as it is now. It’s crazy to see how exploitative the visa process is, I mean there is no direct path to citizenship. The system is set up to be like dangling a carrot in front of a bunny. You keep working, and paying taxes, and working some more, but you’ll never actually get there. I think back on how much easier it was for my family to get citizenship then than it would be today, but it still wasn’t easy. It’s interesting to see that shift, that’s exactly the kind of thing I am seeing today in my work here.
If you think about any immigrant or refugee story, it’s always about putting your family first. I think that even beyond immigrants, American citizens can connect with that as well. Anyone in a similar situation is of course going to put their family first. So a lot of what I do at CCI is trying to educate white communities on the complexity of the situation and help them make that connection. Everyone has their own individual experiences, but the stories are always similar; people want better for their families, and that’s really what it all comes down to.
You get a lot of people who claim they aren’t opposed to immigrants entirely, but they want them to come the right way. That’s just so ridiculously hard though; it literally takes decades, and sometimes people don’t have decades. I think it comes from a place of ignorance and guilt. The immigration issue is so complex and complicated that people struggle to know enough about the topic. That’s why people just want to follow the process; follow the rules. Everyone loves a good set of rules!
Everyone comes from somewhere, and it’s funny when people say, ‘Well I’m from here (America)!’ Well, unless you’re from the Meskwaki tribe, the you’re not really from here. That’s the thing with immigration in this country; we are a nation of immigrations!