Monday with Ms. Marvel: the truth about the immigration system


Morgan Kong

In her weekly column, Monday with Ms. Marvel, Wingspan’s Trisha Dasgupta reviews different political issues and relatable topics in everyday life.

Trisha Dasgupta, Staff Reporter

The immigration system in the United States has been controversial for decades, so the recent discourse about border walls, asylum seekers, and illegal immigrants is far from atypical. The controversy isn’t new, nor is it special. Our immigration system has been a point of contention between Democrats and Republicans for a very long time, and nothing has really changed. 

President Trump isn’t the first politician to try to crack down on our borders, and he won’t be the last. Over the years, there have been many promises made to the American people and voters from various politicians about multiple facets of the issue, whether it be about illegal or legal immigration. There have been countless debates over this topic, however, I find that many of the people who I have conversations with about this topic don’t actually know a lot about the immigration system. 

It’s extremely easy to sit around and lament about how if illegal immigrants really wanted to come to this country, they should just do it legally. Which yes, in an ideal world, every one would have the privilege of being able to afford to wait years and years for citizenship, however, that isn’t the case. 

Now, I know a thing or two about the immigration system, because well, I am an immigrant. And as someone who has spent the last fifteen years waiting in an immigration line longer than one for a ride at a Texas State Fair, I could write about how lengthy the wait is, the tedious paperwork, and all the other logistics, but I’d rather talk about how tiring the process is. Until you’ve been through it yourself, there’s no way to really understand how tolling it is. So, let me tell you the truth about the system. 

The immigration system is exhausting. It is painful and hurtful. 

There’s this identity crisis that almost all immigrant children face. The strange dichotomy that comes from being a first generation immigrant ties me at my hands and feet and pushes the weight of my two cultures onto my shoulders with no mercy.

I have a duty to my parents and my family to uphold my heritage and pursue the American Dream with my head held high, but as I’ve gotten older, everything has changed. My Bangla has grown weaker, and I’ve started missing festivals to go to competitions or study. I always find myself wondering, do I have to sacrifice my culture to pay for my American Dream? Or am I just doing it because it’s easier to?

Every stop in the system is a reminder that the country I call my home doesn’t recognize me as one of their own. It is a reminder that all my plans for my future can be ruined in one change in the system, by one piece of legislation. That no matter how hard I work, there is always a chance of everything going wrong. 

There’s also more pressure on immigrant children. We might have to apply for a student VISA one day, so we need to study harder. There are obstacles we have to face in academics, awards and internships we’re not eligible for due to our immigration status, so we need to find other ways to stand out. We need to work twice as hard, just to be at the same level. 

That’s what it’s like to be a legal immigrant like me. It isn’t easy, quick, or simple. It’s tiring and discouraging, and sometimes it’s really hard to have hope. 

So, imagine what it’s like to have to come here illegally. As hard as it may get for me sometimes, I recognize that I am way more privileged than those who have no other options. I live in a nice house in a good neighborhood and I go to a safe school in a good district. I don’t have to worry about gang violence and drug cartels. I get to worry about my grades, not my life. 

I recognize that the system is in place to keep our country safe, and I’m not advocating for open borders. However, try to refrain from inflammatory rhetoric, and the judgments you make on immigrants because regardless of whether they’re illegal or legal, they are human beings who are going through many hardships to make a better life. 

All I want to say is that when we talk about immigrants and the issues surrounding immigration, it’s easy to forget that there are real people who are actually suffering through what may just be a dinner table discussion for you. 

Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, against illegal immigration or for a more open system, at the end of the day, you’re all Americans. You should take pride in the fact that there are people risking their lives and sacrificing everything for the chance to be one too, even if you disagree with each other on how they should approach it.