Immigration and Politics
Hello reader! Happy new month! If this is your first time, welcome! I love to muse and write about things that matter to me. If you came here to find out about my breast cancer journey, I will advise you go through the archives, grab a huge bag of pop-corn and some Nigerian chapman and kick off your weekend 🙂
I have a confession to make. I am a trouble maker. I do not look away easily if something is wrong. I am not afraid to challenge the status quo. I have no issues speaking truth to power (in love). 21 years ago, I was sitting comfortably at my new high school in Norway. I got an email from my bestie that our WAEC (equivalent of MCAS, GCE, etc) results had been withheld. This was due to some discrepancies found among some cohorts who sat for the Chemistry practicals. It seemed as though we had cheated. The real issue was that we were given the wrong reagent. We all had to cancel the results and do the titration exercise again.
I could have said to myself ” I don’t need my WAEC, I am going to get my IB diploma”. Noooo…..yours truly got on the computer and wrote an open letter to the head of WAEC, Chief Mrs Shonekan. I sent it to the Nigerian Guardian newspaper and thought nothing about it. Little did I know that the letter will be published and Mrs Shonekan will actually read the letter. My dad called me from Nigeria in shock. My 17 year old self had sent ripples across my Alma matter, the examiner from WAEC was fired…a lot of people were not happy. I was 17. I was just looking for justice for the 250 students in my class who had spent 6 years going to secondary school and were not sure they would get their results. You need WAEC to enter university. Not everyone had the opportunity to travel outside the country to further their education. My passion led me to use the power of the pen. I have been a trouble maker since.
Immigration is near and dear to my heart. I have been through the whole gamut of immigration statuses: resident alien (F1, H1-B); undocumented/illegal alien, permanent resident, and naturalized citizen. I know what it means to be under the shadows. I know what it means to be legal but still limited in what you can achieve. Above all, I relish my new found status as a naturalized citizen and its inherent benefit. I have joined the class of Americans that can pursue liberty and happiness without Homeland Security breathing down my neck. I will drink a glass of zobo to that.
Immigration….Election season is here and we all know voter sentiments will be whipped. President Donald J Trump ran strongly on the need to tighten and strengthen America’s immigration laws and policies. Under the guise of making America great, the southern boarder became a detention camp. Under the guise of making America great, he arm-twisted the Congress to get billions for a wall that is barely operational. He tried to rip the Dreamers Act into shreds but for the Supreme court. At first, we all thought it was a war against illegal immigration. Today, I cannot file for my parents to come here legally. H1-B visas are suspended till further notice. International students might be forced to go home if the 2020-2021 academic year is 100% online. Immigration.
To my friends who echo the president’s sentiments or to those who believe that the United States of America belongs to the Caucasian race, you forget so quickly that some people were here before Chris Columbus or the Pilgrims made it here. You might also want a to take a cue from animals. Migration is part of the circle of life. Do you know that monarch butterflies must travel 3000 miles so they can lay their eggs, then come back to the US? Imagine if the Mexican government decided to hold monarch butterflies hostage? Or they decide to apply pesticides in the air because they do not like the thought of American butterflies coming to nest in their country?
Before you shoot me, hear me well. The American media has sold the United States to the rest of the world as a place where dreams are fulfilled. America was sold to the world as the next best thing to sliced bread. Our psyches were manipulated (and rightly so) that this nation is the greatest nation on earth. You can achieve ANYTHING….Heck your child can become a president as long as he or she is born here. The seduction of that alone will make anyone in any developing country stand in the line for 6 hours just to obtain a visitor’s visa. Some of us will lie to the immigration officers, promising them to come back to our home countries. We know that ain’t true.
When civil unrest strikes, when economic prosperity seems elusive, when basic civil liberties are no longer within reach, the average world citizen looks to America: land of the free, home of the brave. In this same America, a Liberian refugee is now a mayor in the one of the cities in Montana. In this same America, a Syrian of blessed memory got us hooked to I-Phones and all things IOS. In this same America, a Somali refugee can dream and become a congresswoman. Tell me, what is not to love about the United States of America?
Yes, we are in a somber season in the nation. The underbelly needs cleansing, the cesspool of anti-black racism, institutional racism and other forms of isms have bubbled to the surface. All disenfranchised groups are coming out guns blazing and demanding to be heard. Virtual civil wars are happening on Facebook groups. We are emboldened to share our stories with full liberty. That in itself is American greatness. Tell me if you can try that in China. The spirit of liberty is alive and well on this side of the Atlantic.
Where was I? Why do we like to politicize immigration? Why are we so caught up in this us against them war? Immigrants are needed to keep the the engine of American greatness running. I repeat, immigrants are the fuel needed to keep a society fresh and relevant. They offer their labor, skills, ingenuity, drive, and passion. Migrants go to new places to create new homes. Matter of fact, since MOST anti-immigrants happen to be of the white evangelical extract, let’s do some Bible study 101….shall we….
Exodus 22:21: In my words I write ” Don’t make life miserable for next phase of immigrants, your ancestors were not born here either.”
In Jeremiah 29:4-7, the LORD was having a conversation with the exiles in Babylon (through a letter sent by Prophet Jeremiah) and he told them to: build houses, have businesses, marry off their kids, give their daughters in marriage and pray for the peace of the land they have been exiled…. Home ownership and entrepreneurship are two of the major cornerstones of the American dream. I wonder if the founding fathers picked it from Jeremiah 29…… As an immigrant, these verses of scripture have been my anchor as a sojourner in the United States. When homeland security screwed me over in 2011, I held dearly to these two scriptures. I dared to dream. I was not bothered by my lack of papers. I had just graduated from an Ivy League and I was out of status. I kept it moving.
I strongly believe that immigrants (documented and undocumented alike) are dear to God’s heart. Abraham had to leave his father’s house. Jacob had to leave his father’s house. Joseph was forced to leave……matter of fact, Joseph an “alleged” sex offender, non resident alien became the prime minister and FATHER to Pharaoh. Jesus had to go exile in Egypt for a little while so Herod won’t kill him. God’s immigration policy is quite gangster!! Esther was an orphan and she became queen. Ruth was an immigrant widow who later became an ancestor to the Christ. To the far right who cling to their Bibles, here is my question…what version are you reading? King James or KKK version?
Election season is here. Trump has just about survived every “plague” thrown at him. I fear he might win again despite his mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. My hope is that he will stop weaponizing immigration. It is not in his best interest. Despite the deaths and high rate of unemployment, scapegoating immigration sounds cheap and simple minded. His so called base did not loose their jobs to immigrants. They lost their jobs to globalization and off shore manufacturing.
Harvard and MIT have sued the administration over its recent stance on F1 visa recipients. This unfolding drama by the Trump administration is crass to say the least. For someone who has married two thick accented immigrants, you will expect some kind of empathy….. but I guess not.
Suffer not the immigrant. Your ancestors were immigrants too.