Today is the Day Without Immigrants protest — a lot of restaurants in particular are closing in protest. I’m working from home today, so my not working wouldn’t be so visible, but I’m an immigrant, and I’m protesting.
If you’ve enjoyed my presence here, please take a moment to consider what America would have lost if I hadn’t been allowed in. Please imagine what my life would be like now if ICE showed up at my door and forcibly separated me from my family, shipping me back to Sri Lanka (a country I left when I was two), leaving Kevin to support and console our traumatized children.
The fact that I’m here legally is an accident of history, and mostly the product of the U.S. finally deciding to repeal the racist Asian Exclusion Act that would have kept my family out in decades previous. The entire concept of legal vs. illegal immigration to America is a relatively new one — for centuries, there was no such thing. If you’re here legally, all it means is that for a while, no one was trying too hard to keep your family out. It’s sheer luck.
The current path to legal immigration is also prohibitively difficult. “In April 2016, the U.S. government was still processing some family-sponsored visa applications dating to September 1992, and was still processing some employment-related visa applications from August 2004.”
Mostly, when Americans want to limit immigration from other places, they choose those places based on race. ‘Race,’ which doesn’t actually exist, is generally standing in for ‘culture we dislike’ or ‘religion we’re afraid of,’ or ‘people who will work for less money than we will because the situation in their homeland is dire and their children are starving or being shot at,’ but nonetheless, limiting immigration from certain countries, generally for people with certain skin colors, is racism.
We’ve done it before; we’re doing it again now. Let’s not hide from that truth.
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