Amidst all of the immigration bans and political adversity, thousands of people, specifically in the Bay Area, have stood up for those treated with injustice and discrimination.
Yesterday was a historic day for immigrants: many activists started a protest in Washington D.C. that gained momentum through social media that pleaded immigrants to stay home from work for the day in light of the immigration bans. Naturally, because a huge part of the hospitality industry is occupied by immigrants, this protest has spread all the way to the Bay Area. That being said, many restaurants and shops have closed down for the day in respect to the protests.
Many are quite upset about this because it may have ruined set plans for yesterday (i.e. a canceled reservation to a restaurant because it's closed), but others are gleeful about the situation and fortunate for such an opportunity to fight for an immigrant’s rights and significance.
This is a very important issue that I hold dear to my heart because I myself, am an immigrant—along with a good amount of my family and peers. My parents are the only reason I am here today, and I will forever be grateful for all that they have done to raise me up in such an opportune and privileged lifestyle and society. By that, I don’t mean that I come from a rich and affluent background. I’m privileged in the way that many of my cousins in the Philippines aren’t: Ihave an abundance of resources that are easily accessible, everything is a lot more technologically advanced, the colleges and schools in our nation are plentiful and considered top tier, and on top of that, the United States is one of—if not the most—powerful country in the world. You never hear anyone here joking about the U.S. as if it were a third world country of some sort. If I still lived in the Philippines, I would not be where I am today; I wouldn’t know the same people; I wouldn’t be able to take the opportunities I am given; I most likely wouldn’t even be typing this blog post at this moment.
I am in no way trying to be a bigot and insult the Philippines—it truly is a great place, and I always look forward to going back and spending time with my family. However, I believe that I am insanely blessed to be where I am today all because of my parents.
I am the first generation in my family to be here; this means my parents were the ones who decided to move here. For what reasons? The life was deemed “better” in the states, especially twenty years ago. My parents had nothing to start off here. They both graduated from medical school in the Philippines to pursue their careers as doctors; somewhere in the time they got married though, they realized that going to America meant that they could provide a better life for me—their only daughter at the time. When my father moved to California just a little under 20 years ago, he became a pharmacy technician. He worked three part time jobs all at once for years, just so he could earn and save to provide for his new family. When my mother and I moved here about 4 years after, we lived with my father, aunt, and grandmother in a small, cramped 2-bedroom apartment. Luckily, my two younger siblings weren’t alive yet—I would’ve probably died of claustrophobia at that point. After a year or two, my mother got her associate’s degree and became a nurse; her reasoning was that even nurses get paid more than doctors in the Philippines. It was just so hard for me to believe that my parents, who spent an endless amount of years in school to follow their dreams of becoming a doctor, switched their career plans to provide for me. It makes me feel so grateful for everything they’ve done. We are all citizens now, and have been for a few years. However, this isn’t a new story. This same thing happened to many of my friends and even my boyfriend. Being a first generation child means you are embracing that background, and making the most of your life where you are now. And a first generation child is not exclusive to only citizens.
While feeding my social media addiction and scrolling endlessly on Twitter, I came across a tweet today that hit me hard:
And it’s true. Immigrants are here to start a stable lifestyle. They aren’t picky or particular about the opportunities given to them. They’ll take whatever they can to provide for themselves. They aren't like millennials of our society; they understand the concept where to be successful and live a good life, they take every chance they can to work up to it. They will take on an inferior role to those who are natural-born citizens of the United States and work as a cook, a busboy, a driver, a nanny, as well as other jobs that are less-distinguished than others Many will even give up on their career dreams and goals (especially those who are illegal) just so they can provide for themselves and others they care for.
Immigrants are known as foreign-born people going to a new country for permanent residence. Immigrants are people who want to start a future for themselves, and for others. Not all immigrants are bad people—even rarely, they are found with bad intentions and ulterior motives. As the neon pink sign states above, immigrants deliver our food, they take care of our children, they pay for their taxes, and they are NOT criminals or terrorists. They are what makes our country who and where we are today; they are our foundation, and we would not be anything without them. I would not be who I am today by a landslide if immigrants were never allowed to be here. Even the most close-minded people would realize that. There is no reason for such a ban to go on, no matter the ethnicity, religion, culture, or belief one holds. Taking families apart with an indefinite return is one of the worst things that could ever happen to a person. I believe in this protest with every ounce of me, and will not back down from raising awareness and fighting for their injustices.