My good trouble is Immigration, I picked this topic because I think this topic is important and should have more light shed on it since immigrants make up this country. I also happen to resonate with this topic because both my parents were immigrants when they came to this country. They both struggled a lot to come to this country and struggled in this country as well for lack of citizenship. Being an immigrant, you go through a lot of struggles in America, it’s hard to find a job and when you do most of the time you don’t get paid a fare salary for the work you do, you are usually underpaid. Immigrants also struggle with langue barrier, being in a country where they don’t speak the same language can be difficult. They can also have a hard time accessing services such as medical care. Reasons for this may be fear of deportation since there undocumented or medical care being expensive and not having sufficient funds to pay for it. In addition, they also have the fear of being able to be deported at any given time. This is an everyday struggle immigrants face in America. Even though I do happen to know some stuff about immigration due to my parents, articles, or documentaries, I do have some questions. Some questions I have are, if you have ties to America such as having a child in American born with U.S Citizenship are you able to stay? Why are facilities considered inhumane? Why do some kids go into foster care and some into facilities? Why do people want to leave their countries? Why do people seek immediate asylum, do they always receive it? What’s the process of coming here illegally? I intend to look for answers to these questions in the following articles I read and the interview I take.
In the article I read “A Crime by Any Name”, the author speaks about the conditions of the detention facilities immigrants are being held. He explains that the cells are so overcrowded it is difficult to move in any direction. The cells are so cramped the detainees could not lie down to sleep. The cells that are designed for 125 people are packed with 900 immigrants. He elaborates on the how uneatable the food is and how inhumane the immigrants are treated inside the facilities. The food is horrendous, its either raw or too foul to be eaten so most detainees starve, but it’s not just the food it’s also the water. The author describes the water as a black color. I find it appalling how immigrants are treated, we have a prison system that treats inmates better than they treat detainees. The author quotes a detainee “only shelter from the sun and rain and night dews, was what we could make by stretching over us our coats or scraps of blanket” ( Sewer). The facilities lack the human decency of providing detainees with proper shelter from the sun and the rain.
The author also talks about the trump administration and how hard they have made it for immigrant children. They’ve made it harder for children to be realized to a sponsor in the U.S by threatening to arrest and deport families who have illegal status. Trump and his administration rather keep kids in facilities than release them to reliable family members. The detention facilities where they have kids aren’t any better than the facilities for adults. The immigrant kids sleep on concrete floors and are denied soap and toothpaste. Eight-year old’s are wearing clothes full of snot and tears and are taking care of infants they aren’t related to. The harsh truth is these kids will never have a childhood and are learning young that “ the land of the free” is only if you are a American you basically don’t count and can be treated horrendous if you are an immigrant. The author quotes an internal DHS report which described cells with temperatures “reaching over 80 degrees.” With inadequate showers, the migrants were “wearing soiled clothing for days or weeks,” and agents struggled to “quarantine outbreaks of flu, chickenpox and scabies” (Sewer). Which is a quote I find important because it sheds light on how facilities torture immigrants, treat them inhumane and break laws in the hopes that immigrants don’t continue to come to America. I believe the author wrote this article to shed light on how vile the detention facilities where immigrants are being held are and emphasize the contribution that the trump administration has had in making these detentions cruel and inhumane.
In reading “ Thousands of immigrants pass through the southern border. Why are they fleeing their home countries?“ the author speaks about the reasoning behind immigrants coming to America. She explains that it is a dangerous journey to come to America, more than 400 people died trying to make it to the USA last year. Yet thousands still make this journey, immigrants’ risk their lives every day, but they aren’t just chasing the American dream anymore. Most are fleeing from poverty, violence, gang, and drug cartels. She elaborates more on the lack of jobs there are in Central America. Since trump ended temporary protection thousands of immigrants are being sent back to their countries which have few jobs to provided opportunity to work for so many people. The author elaborates on the violence that goes on in different countries that cause people to flee. El Salvador being one of them, which was stated the murder capital of the world. Giving people a reason to fear staying there. While Honduras residents are faced with criminals demanding a “war tax” which if not paid could result in death. The author quotes an incident that occurred in Mexico ”Georgina Ayala Mendoza, her husband and their three kids fled Michoacán, a state along the west coast of Mexico, on May 3. One day earlier, armed members of a drug cartel entered her mother-in-law’s home and killed two of her husband’s brothers, she said” (Hayes). The fear of the cartel recruiting her husband to work for them or ending up with the same fate as his brothers ended, forced her and her family to flee the country.
Christal Hayes also writes in her article about the gang and drug cartels that are factors in people fleeing their countries. Both groups enforce curfew, demand taxes and force recruitment. El Salvador has two major gangs that have turf battles, while Mexican drug cartels are having a war between cartels for territory. Both killing criminals and innocent people in their countries. A quote in this article that I thought expressed the gang violence in Central America is “ Last year, 35 bus drivers, passengers and fare collectors were killed while riding buses into gang-controlled neighborhoods. Those who were spared a bullet were extorted for $19 million, according to the Salvadoran public transport owners’ association” (Hayes). All these circumstances cause people to flee in look of a better life for their families. The authors article was very informative, and I believed was written to express the various reasoning behind coming to America. Which aren’t just immigrants chasing the American dream anymore they come because a lot of them fear for their lives and are in poverty for the lack of jobs provided in their countries.
An article I read in the New York Times stood out to me “ Here’s the Reality About Illegal Immigrants in the United States.” The authors speak about the way immigrants are viewed but the truth behind a lot of them. Everyone views immigrants differently advocates view them as hard-working individuals looking to stay out of trouble and earn a better life for themselves and their families. While at the White House they are viewed as criminals and a menace to society, taking American jobs and should be stopped. The reality is there is 11 million immigrants in America and there is a considerable rang of both views. The article also speaks about the strong tie’s immigrants have to America. Sixty percent of immigrants have been in America for at least a decade and a lot of them are living with at least one child who is a United States citizen by birth. They tell us about a woman named Lydia who came to this country illegal and eventually was ordered out of the country but was able to stay due to the Obama administration prioritizing undocumented individuals who have committed a crime. In the article it states “Lydia raised four children, all citizens, and sent them to public schools in Sun Valley, a suburb north of Los Angeles. She and her husband bought a home there, paid off their mortgage and bought a second home nearby”( Yee, Davis, Patel). Lydia just like many other immigrants are law abiding members of society, working hard, and living a quiet life. Regardless of her living her life as a law-abiding member of society she still fears everyday she may go out and never come back.
The authors elaborate about immigrants’ criminal records and minor crimes. The Migration Policy Institute has estimated that out of the 11 million immigrants living in America 7.5% have been convicted of a crime and 2.7% have been convicted of felony. Immigration regularly arrest people with criminal backgrounds who government also call “criminal aliens”. The authors give examples of some “criminal aliens” whom have been arrested “At the end of January, agents arrested a 50-year-old Mexican man near Milwaukee who had felony convictions for assault with a deadly weapon, battery against a police officer, car theft and intentionally harming a child, and who had been deported twice before. Last week, they caught an undocumented Honduran man in North Carolina, Francisco Escobar-Orellana, who is wanted in Honduras for allegedly hacking two men to death with a machete in 1993”(Yee, Davis, Patel). Sadly, despite the Trump Administration prioritizing deporting those with serious criminal records they are also aiming for immigrants whose offenses are living here without permission or minor crimes that enable them to work here. For example, driving without a license or using a fake social security number. They speak about a couple named Maria and Benjamin who follow the rules and pay taxes but used a fake social security for her husband to be able to get a job and are now scared that the one rule they broke can cause them to get deported. The authors quote Maria “This worries us, but we don’t have an option,” said Maria, 38, who arrived from Mexico when she was 19. “He has always worked and has always had a fake Social Security card. That is the way you get a job”( Yee, Davis, Patel). The reality is, it’s hard to get a job in America being undocumented since most places ask for a social security. Which makes immigrants have to break the law and provided a fake social security but it’s that or not being able to provide for their families. The article speaks about people who have overstayed their visas. Despite some people enduring a long dangerous road to get here a lot of illegal immigrants make it here through a visa. Statistics show that a lot of immigrants come with a visa and just overstay their visas.
The authors speak about asylum seekers fleeing their country due to fear and getting denied. They speak about a man named Rogelio Ortiz who on Valentine’s Day stopped by the local immigration office to update his address. He had been seeking asylum due to threats that he had received in his home country. Even though he had fled his country due to fear he was taken into custody that same day he attended the immigration office, due to prior to him seeking asylum he had been deported before,14 years ago. Many ask for asylum, but most are denied despite the reasoning behind them seeking asylum. It’s horrible to think that you are coming to this country in seek of help but in most cases, you are denied and are send back to the country you are fleeing from. I believe the authors wrote this article to reach audiences that believe the stereotype, that immigrants are criminals and to express the struggles of being an immigrant in America.
For the purposes of this paper, I conducted an interview of someone with firsthand experience of crossing the boarded illegally. To maintain my interviewees privacy, we will address my interviewee as Anna Perez. The reasoning behind Anna deciding to cross the border into America was due to poverty. Her family was very poor and couldn’t provide a prober education for her and her siblings. Anna’s mother initially didn’t want to send her to America because she was only 15 years old, but Anna convinced her it would be the best decision because she had younger siblings and they needed their mother. Anna came to this country at 15 not knowing where she would be sleeping not knowing if something would happen to her on the way to America. The only thing she had in her mind was all the things people that had been to America and came back to her country saying, “ Allá ay much trabajo, básicamente tu juntas el dinero con la escoba.” (“There is a lot of work over there, basically you collect the money with a broom.”; Perez) She crossed with 11 different people in order for her to cross she needed help from someone they call a “ coyote” who you pay and takes you several different routes to cross into America. Since they were poor her mother asked several different people to borrow money and sold some stuff to be able to come up with all the money, they needed to pay the “ coyote”. At the time, the amount you had to pay was $500 dollars.
She states she traveled to Camargo, Tamaulipas in Mexico on the bus, it took about 2 weeks from the little town she lived into Camargo, Tamaulipas where the border is. It took long since they had to switch from bus to bus to make it there. When she made it there a hurricane had just passed, they had to transport them through “el rio grande” in a small boat but the trees surrounding the river were covered by water, you could barely see them since the water elevated. Every “coyote” at the moment was scared to cross them since they stated that earlier that week, they had tried crossing families and the river had taken them. Anna states that she waited another two weeks by the border for the river to go down so they could cross. When they were ready to start crossing them, they divided them into two groups of six. She says she got lucky because the first time she crossed she made it. Not a lot of people make it across the first time without getting caught by immigration.
While in America she resided in Texas and found a job on a farm working to plant onions. She was working there 6 months when she found out about a law, they had passed stating that if you had been working on a farm for 6months or more you qualified to get your citizenship. That’s how she received her permission to work and her social security. She ended up moving to Massachusetts and went to the immigration office to change her address. She would renew her permission to work every year. Anna then got married had a daughter and during that time she got a letter from immigration saying she was able to pick up her permanent residency card at the immigration office, but when she went to the office they asked for her temporary residency card to exchange it with the new permanent residency card which she didn’t have. Apparently when she asked to get her address changed to Massachusetts, they never changed it, so they had sent the temporary residency card to her prior address which was in Texas. Since she couldn’t travel, she asked for another way to be able to get her permanent residency card. The only other way she had was getting a Mexican passport. When going about getting her Mexican passport she needed her original birth certificate which she didn’t have she only had a copy. She pleaded to the lady in the booth to help her out and was able to get her passport. Not even a week after receiving her passport, she was unlucky and had people break into her house and one of the things that was stolen was her passport. She was able to file a police report but when returning to the immigration office they did not validate the police report. They explained that she had to hire a lawyer for her to be able to get her permeant residency card. While the case was being looked at by the lawyer her working permit expired and she couldn’t renew it due to immigration saying she had to wait until her lawyer fixed everything.
Anna split up from her current husband which was Puerto Rican at the moment because of physical abuse. She remarried not much after to a Mexican and had another daughter. Her husband ended up getting into an accident and needed surgery due to his illegal status he decided it would be more convenient if he did the surgery in Mexico, so he left. After a month, her husband called her and asked if she could travel to Mexico. It never crossed her mind that she would have a problem coming back into America due to her having an active social security. While over there she was having a lot problems with her mother in law and decided to come back to America. When trying to come back they didn’t let her due to her not having her permanent residency card even though her social security was valid. She ended up having to cross again illegally.
She sends her two daughters to California with her sister in law and proceeded to try to cross the border again. This time thought it wasn’t as easy, it took her 31 times trying to cross to make it. She crossed everyday taking different routes, the dessert, the river, the mountains but she wasn’t successful. She remembers one day specifically “ Me recuerdo que una dia estaba tratando de cruzar por el desierto y nos quedamos sin agua, estábamos perdidos pensábamos que todos nos ivamos a morir. Estas en un desierto y no ves nada no Sabes para donde caminar. Eschuchas los helicópteros de migración y lo que oras es que te vean para que te salven, Pero yo estoy segura que te ven y se haven los locos y se van, diciendo que se mueran nadien los manda a venir para acá.” (“ I remember that one day I was trying to cross the desert and we ran out of water, we were lost, we thought that we were all going to die, you are in a desert and you don’t see anything. You don’t know where to walk. You hear the immigration helicopters and what you pray is that they see you so that they save you, but I am sure that they see you and they act like they don’t see you and they leave, saying that they die, nobody sends them to come here.”; Perez) The thought of dying in the desert and not getting to see your family again makes you desperate enough to want to get caught by immigration. That day she says they only made it out because in the distance they saw a house where they had been left water and food. Sometimes people know immigrants pass through there and they leave water or food for them.
She remembers the multiple times she had gotten caught by immigration and says they laughed and told her “I saw you this whole time and I let you get close enough to where our car is stationed so we don’t have to do much work.” She explains that when immigration gets you, they lock you up in a room where they put the temperature so low you are freezing. She says various times she was crossing through “ el rio grande” and had gotten soaked. She remembers being in the immigration facility where they hold you and it being so cold that her clothes had frost from her being wet. She also says that in the immigration office they have hundreds of pictures on the wall of immigrants they’ve found that have died on the way. Pictures of people that have died in the river and their bodies have inflated with water or people that have died in the desert and the only thing remaining is there bones. She claims that when they get put in the cells, they get told by the immigration officers “look at the wall that is how people ended up when they come here.” She says every time they catch you, they ask if you want “ Salida voluntaria” meaning you will leave the country voluntarily, so they cross you back to Mexico. The require you to sign papers stating that you are leaving voluntarily. You also have the option of saying no, I’m staying in America and waiting for the judge to decide whether you could stay in America, but you would be held in a detention facility waiting to be heard. She always asked for “ Salida voluntaria” but she states that after being caught 30 times they told her this is the last time if we catch you again you will be arrested and will be given a sentence of 10 years.
The 31 time she was finally able to cross, she changed her strategy and tried what everyone else tries when they have no other option. Which is crossing “ por la linia “ meaning through the line. Meaning you are crossing the border with an illegally passport, the passport is from a U.S Citizen in America but does not belong to you it’s just someone who resembles you. So, they make you memorize the person’s name, address, social security, and any information which they think immigration will ask for that is relevant they make you recite it and memorize it. She explains that the way it looks is kind of the way a train station looks where you swipe your metro card, and you can turn the turnstile. So, there is multiple booths and each one has an immigration officer and turnstile. You present your passport and if you get nervous they automatically know you’re lying. She says what she thinks helped her a lot was the fact that she understood a little bit of English. Anna says that the officer asked her multiple questions like what her name was, where was she going, and her reason for going to Mexico. She states that she answered all the questions and didn’t get nervous, so the officer stamped her passport and let her go through. She used that as a last resort because she was worried, she was going to get nervous, and get caught but that last resort was what allowed her to cross to America. She says she remembers crossing around October 10 because when she got home, she had a letter for immigration saying her lawyer had worked everything out and she would be able to pick up her permanent residency card on October 15. So, come October 15 she went and picked up her permanent residency card and that’s how she become a U.S Citizen. I believe my interviewee went through an lot of hardship to make it to America in look for a better life for herself and her family. I chose to do a interview for this paper because I thought it would be great to have someone speak about the hardship’s immigrants go through to cross the border.
In conclusion I think every article I picked and the interview I did really helped to answer the questions I had. I believe “ A Crime by Any Name” Really spoke about the reasoning behind people calling detention facilities inhumane and gave an insight to the reasons why children are being held in facilities instead of with family members. I also think the article “Thousands of immigrants pass through the southern border. Why are they fleeing their home countries?“ expressed a great deal of details to the reasons why people ask for asylum and why people are fleeing their countries. I believe the third article I wrote about “ Here’s the Reality About Illegal Immigrants in the United States” helped me answer my question “ if you have ties to America such as children born with U.S Citizenship are you allowed to stay?” It gave me great details to not just my question but to the reality of what it is to be an Immigrant in the United States. As for my interview I think I was able to express in details the hardship Anna went through to cross the border and shed light on the way immigration treats you when you get caught. I believe that the information I learned is important to help people understand what immigrants go through to make it to America and the struggles they face while being here as well. I’m hoping to reach audience that feel the way the trump administration feels that immigrants are criminals and rapist and are just here to take Americans jobs and hoping I can change their point of view. For them to understand the reasoning behind a lot of immigrants coming to America violence being just one factor. Also, for them to understand the hardships immigrants go through.
Hayes, Christal “ Thousands of immigrants pass through the southern border. Why are they fleeing their home countries? “, 2018, USA Today.
Perez, Anna. Personal interview. 23 Oct. 2020.
Sewer, Adam. “ A Crime by Any Name”, 2019, The Atlantic.
Yee,Vivian, Davis,Kenan and Patel K. Jugal. “ Here’s the Reality About Illegal Immigrants in the United States”, 2017, New York Times.