In 1981, my parents experienced the fanfare that is a Bangladeshi wedding: family, food, and festivities. What they didn’t realize is that the union from their “love marriage” would seal their separation for the next few years. My parents planned to immigrate to America immediately after the wedding. What they didn’t realize, my mom’s marriage changed her American citizen sponsorship status (started by my grandmother). My parents didn’t expect to have a honeymoon baby (me). They didn’t expect that even with a wife, and baby on the way, my father would have to wait 5-10 years to bring his family to the U.S.
Families belong together. That is why my dad returned to Bangladesh in late 1983 when I was almost 2. I think of all the memories, photos, and love I shared with my own children before they turned 2 and it is clear the sacrifices my father made for the American Dream. In 1986, my family was finally approved to immigrate to the United States.
As they have done their entire lives, my parents followed the rules. The rules, unfortunately, have always been biased against ethnic minorities and people with low-income. Our immigration policies in the United States are some of the strictest in the world.
Many of the illegal immigrants fleeing to the United States are risking their lives and their children’s lives to escape violence and terrorism. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” and we will process them through our criminal justice system? I expect better from my fellow citizens and my political leaders. The most impactful way you can make a difference is by donating to the credible organizations supporting the detained refugees. Hillary Clinton shared ActBlue with her list last week, which splits your donation between nonprofits making the most impact.
On June 26th, Trump’s travel ban was held up by the Supreme Court. Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the decision was no better than Korematsu v. United States, the 1944 decision that endorsed the detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Trump’s immigration policy continues to target ethnic minorities and people with low income. A young Syrian father in the U.S. now has no chance of bringing his wife and children to the United States. My father’s regrettable situation looks desirable under these circumstances. Many will leave the U.S. with broken dreams. Grandparents will be separated from grandchildren. All for “America’s safety”.
For the families fleeing violence at our borders and the families wondering if they will ever see their loved ones in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iran, Somalia, Venezuela (limited ban), and North Korea (citizens rarely leave) again, don’t be silent about America’s immigration policies.
America was built on the ideals of representation, freedom, and independence, for citizens and those who would sacrifice everything to be a citizen. This coming election vote with your ballots and with your dollars.
The graphic designers at Everlane created these signs that you can customize yourself with your family.
Peace & Salam,