The juxtaposition of Martin Luther King Jr. day with the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, just four days later, couldn’t be more symbolic of the fissures in our nation. On one hand, we celebrate the legacy of the first African-American President who embodies the ideals and aspirations of civil rights leaders of all generations. A President who defied our mental construct of what’s possible and sparked the hearts of young people everywhere to believe “yes we can.” On the other hand, we have an incoming administration whose rhetoric and policy agenda perpetuate fear and anguish among minority and marginalized communities.
One of the most contentious policies that underscores this stark contrast between Obama and Trump is immigration.
As an immigrant of color, I am deeply concerned about regressive immigration policies that threaten the well-being of children, families, men, and women of all ages. From the looming threat of a wall on the Southern boarder to deportation of millions, the Trump administration has unhinged any sense of psychological and physical safety many immigrants and refugees sought when entering America.
In a quintessential American democracy drama, the fight on immigration will come down to local vs. national policies. About 37 communities including Boston, Nashville, and Phoenix have “sanctuary” policies to help protect undocumented immigrants from deportation. To bolster the commitment of these cities and enlist that of others, we as individuals need to advocate for progressive immigration policies of acceptance, inclusivity, and freedom. As stated by the Women’s March on Washington, “migration is a human right and no human is illegal.”
One way we can begin to uphold immigrants’ rights is by recognizing the individual stories and assets we bring to America. This is why I have launched Immigrants for America, a story campaign to showcase the diversity and vibrancy of the immigrant community through individual stories.
“There are many Americas. Because America is so diverse, it’s hard to say this is my hope for the entire country. My hope is for marginalized people. I hope for them to find a sense of community, strength in that community and to be confident. There has been an awakening of our power and I don’t want to lose that. We belong and we matter. We are part of the fabric of this country. I don’t have hope for America as a whole. But I hope the movement of the last 8 years will continue.” - Immigrant for America feature from Ghana
The American story is a story of immigrants. The campaign aims to show the mosaic of experiences and commitment immigrants bring to America both to pursue and contribute to the American dream.
The goal is to bring the voices of all immigrants – documented and undocumented – to the fore to create awareness and own our narrative.
This week will undoubtedly be emotional and there is a fight ahead of us. So, as we celebrate this MLK day and his unrelenting commitment to civil rights, let’s remember to stand with immigrants.
To read profiles of featured immigrants, follow us on Facebook: Immigrants for America.