It has been 10 years when on March 6, 2007, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents conducted a raid in a factory that was suspected of hiring people without documentation1. That day over 361 immigrant were arrested for working without valid permits. Such instance, however, did not shatter the morale of New Bedford, Massachusetts, a small town. It did, however, change the political atmosphere of the town. Adrian Ventura, the director of a working center for Central American workers says “something new [was] created… many of the workers now know their rights and fight for their benefits”1. Such proactive response to immigrant raids is not novel to the United States.
Across the nation on February 16, supporters of immigrant communities and families participated in a “Day Without Immigrants”, an event that aims to raise awareness about the challenges faced directly and indirectly by immigrants in the country2. Some of these challenges include family deportations and separations, which generally occur in settings of stigma, discrimination, economic disadvantages, and social exclusion3. More specifically, such risk factors potentially affect the lives of unauthorized migrants and mixed-status families. Such social and political tension is increasingly pertinent because it affects the lives of 1st and 2nd generation youth, who may have authorized status4. In addition and more broadly, the immigrant population in the U.S. has diverse origins from around the world, including Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Western Europe 4. As a result of the expansive diversity, local communities from major cities like Atlanta, Detroit, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Texas, and California supported the ‘Day Without Immigrants’ by closing down local restaurants2.
Such measures were taken to demonstrate the role of immigrants in the nation’s economy and social influence2. Erika Montes, a demonstrator who stood in front of the White House, raised her passions for supporting our immigrant histories from underrepresentation and stated, “I’m here to be the voice of those who can’t speak … to show my students and their families, and my friends and family that teachers are supporting them and we are going to make sure they have a safe place2.”
Although the Trump’s administration is prioritizing the deportation of unauthorized immigrants, the immigrant community remains strong and growing in the United States2. For example, the African immigrant population in the United States has doubled every decade since 1970, according to the Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data5. More specifically, African migrants have had the fastest growth rates in the U.S. compared to other major groups who arrived in the country in the past five years5. Many of these African immigrant communities settle in states like New York, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts5.
Furthermore, immigrants living in the U.S. from seven countries that the Trump administration prioritized including Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, and Iran have advanced degrees and are citizens6. There are large communities of Iranians, Iraqis, Yemenis, and Syrians that live within major cities like Los Angeles and Detroit 6. In addition, the 2015 census reports that 10,116 foreign-born Syrians live in the New York-New Jersey area7.
In sum, the United States is composed of immigrants and they are a strong social and political influence. Many immigrant communities show a strong emphasis on education and want to see their children thrive7. Many first and second generation immigrants carry high educational aspirations with the aims of creating an avenue to increased social mobility7. In addition. despite the negative perceptions of immigrants and policies that are harm immigrant communities, these communities demonstrate strong levels of resiliency and willingness to improve personal and familial living conditions [3,8, 9,10]. The adversity that immigrants face may create different challenges to the immigrant experience, but it also builds solidarity in numbers and similar experience. It is clear that immigrants are here to stay, so instead of fostering negative attitudes, we should be asking ourselves the question: What can we all contribute to the American table?
- Rios. S. (2017). 10 Years After the New Bedford ICE Raid, Immigrant Community Has Hope. NPR. Retrieved from: http://www.npr.org/2017/03/06/518313570/10-years-after-the-new-bedford-ice-raid-immigrant-community-has-hope
- Stanglin, D. (2017). Business across U.S. close, students skip school on ‘Day Without Immigrants’. USA Today. Retreived from: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/02/16/a-day-without-immigrants-strike/97965460/
- Brabeck M. K., Lykes, B. M., & Hunter, C. (2014). The Psychological Impact of Detention and Deportation on U.S. Migrant Children and Families. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 84(5), 496-505. doi: http://dx/doi.org/10.1037/ort.0000011.
- Crossroads. (2013). Crossroads: The Psychology of Immigration in the New Century. Journal of Latina/o Psychology, 1(3), 133-148. doi: 10.1037/lat0000001.
- Anderson, M. (2017). Fact Tank: African immigrant population in U.S. steadily climbs. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/14/african-immigrant-population-in-u-s-steadily-climbs/
- Fessenden, F., Lee C. J., Pecanha, S., & Singhvi, A. (2017). Immigrants From Banned Nations: Educated, Mostly Citizens and Found in Every State. The New York Times. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/30/us/politics/trump-immigration-ban-demographics.html
- The New York Times. (2017). Where Immigrants From Banned Nations Live in the U.S. The New York Times. Retrieved
- Motti-Stefanidi, F. & Masten, S. A. (2013). School Success and School Engagement of Immigrant Children and Adolescents: A Risk and Resilience Developmental Perspective. European Psychologist, 18(2), 126-135. doi: 10.1027/1016-9040/a000139.
- Marks, K. A., Ejesi, K., & Garcia-Coll, C. (2014). Understanding the U.S. Immigrant Paradox in Childhood and Adolescence. Childhood Development Perspectives, 8(2), 59-64. doi: 10.1111/cdep.12071.
- 10. Zarate, A. M., & Quezada, A. S. (2012). Future Directions in Research Regarding Attitudes Towards Immigrants. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 12(1), 160-166. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-2415.2011.0170.x