Before we began the immigration unit I had only a basic understanding of what immigration was and the impact the journey to America had on foreigners who left their home countries. The few times news channels broadcast news about immigrants is when there is a major war in another country that forces refugees to flee to America. Even when the news channels are broadcasting the story it can be biased, based on political and social views, which is concerning, because some of the current political views on immigrants are harsh and negative. President-elect Trump had based much of his campaign around “making America great again,” and he explains this will happen by closing off the US border to Mexico and not only keeping out future immigrants, but deporting those who are already in the US as well. I knew many people immigrated to America for reasons such as: war stricken countries, lack of adequate medical care, or for better education, but what I did not know was what these immigrants’ lives were like once they arrived.
In the unit so far we have watched a documentary following the lives of several immigrant children who were working to assimilate into American culture, and I felt that it opened my eyes to the difficulties immigrants face that usually go unrecognized in the media. Exel, a seventeen year old boy from Guatemala who has been working since he was nine to support his family, and Sing, eighteen from Myanmar, who had to leave his family behind when he immigrated to America are two examples of teens who have had to face hardships most American adults have never had to go through. I also did not realize many immigrant children in this situation live right here in Baltimore. I read Monique Ngombo’s story that detailed her struggle to assimilate and the heart wrenching setbacks she faced in the process, including getting hopelessly lost on the bus system. Her story is not a unique one, because numerous other immigrant children face similar setbacks, but her situation was one of the most difficult. She did not come from a densely populated region of Central Africa, so there were very few people she could communicate with when she came to America, because her language was not widely spoken. The thing that struck me about Monique’s story was that it did not take place hundreds of miles away, it happened not far from Friends School, at Patterson High School. During the brief time we have begun studying immigration, I have learned that there is more to the debate about whether to allow immigrants to enter the US than just statistics and what is broadcast on the news.