As we spend this Thanksgiving with our families, showing gratitude for bearing through what has probably been the worst economic year in recent times, we can’t help but remember the thousands of families still separated by an archaic immigration system.
It is ironic that many of us choose to celebrate the mythical sharing of bounty and land between Pilgrims and Native Americans while simultaneously hating on immigrants trying to make their way in the United States today. It is almost, if not completely, Un-American.
100,000 parents of US citizens were deported in the past decade. Four million US citizen children live in “mixed-status families” comprising legal residents and undocumented immigrants. 36,000 same-sex binational couples are still holding out hope for some sort of recognition in this country. And Congress or the President has yet to deliver on its promise of a comprehensive immigration solution to bring our families together.
Thanksgiving may also be a hard time for the children of legal immigrants. One-point-five and second generation immigrants deal with shame, stigma and the burden of difference on national holidays such as Thanksgiving. Amita Vasudeva, a second generation South Asian immigrant states in a journal entry:
I never talked about my heritage when I was younger; there is always that ever-present fear in children of not being accepted, or even harsher, of being cast out, ignored, ridiculed. So I tried to avoid the issue of being different. When my teachers asked me how my “turkey day” was, I was too ashamed to tell them that I ate cholay/bathura — not cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes.
Some immigrant families may not carve a turkey for Thanksgiving. And that is perfectly fine. The point of Thanksgiving is to get together with our families and show gratitude for whatever we have accomplished while struggling to exist.
For many immigrant families though, this Thanksgiving will be marked with thoughts and prayers of a Thanksgiving in the near future where a loved one won’t be missing from the table due to her/his immigration status.
(Photo Credit: Mr. T in DC’s photostream)