Being a second-generation immigrant has led me to both appreciate the small things and work twice as hard as the average American. However, it has also caused me to overlook the struggles of first-generation immigrants crossing over currently.
In the early 80’s, when my parents came to the United States, right before Ronald Reagan passed the Immigration Reform Act of 1986, they came to live with family. Both single at the time, they lived separately, with as many as eight family members sharing one cramped apartment. But they made it work. They managed to work hard and save up money, working their way up to a stable middle-class standing.
However, nowadays, that is much harder to do.
We see a rising problem of first-generation immigrants coming over with nothing to a country that doesn’t want to offer them any aid. These immigrants are refugees, fleeing from corrupt governments, and violent, poverty-stricken countries.
In many cases, we see single mothers coming over with small children who are forced to live in homeless shelters until they can pick themselves back up. But the question is: is there any possible way to build yourself up from such a terrible situation?
As of November 2017, the average rent in Northern Virginia, a vastly diverse area, is $1,894 a month. For an apartment. And probably not a particularly good one. Now imagine having three children to feed, and getting paid less than minimum wage. All whilst living with the constant fear that you could lose absolutely everything and be sent back to your terror-stricken country at any second.
The median household income of unauthorized immigrants is $36,000 – well below the $50,000 median of U.S. born citizens.
Not only are immigrants making much less money than the average legal citizen, but they are also fulfilling the jobs that no one else would want to do. So while Republicans argue that immigrants are stealing jobs from U.S. citizens, they should truly ask themselves if they would be willing to take the restaurant jobs, the cleaning jobs, or the construction jobs that immigrants fulfill.
This Holiday season, as you are buying your gifts and filling stockings, I ask you to think of others as well. Of that single mother with three children, living in horrible conditions, struggling to provide a better future for her children and a better life than the one that she has.