NYU boasts an extremely diverse campus with satellite campuses all over the world, including NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai. In addition, the NYU New York campus has more international students than any other American university, with 20 percent of the freshman class composed of non-US citizens. While we at NYU are proud of this diversity and embrace the immigrants among us, the newest White House administration is less keen to do the same.
Since President Trump was elected to office, various news channels have reported an increase in xenophobic and racist attacks across America, indicating that now more than ever, it is essential for people to come together and advocate for each another. In 2014, the number of immigrants in the United States reached 42.4 million, or 13.3 percent of the entire U.S. population.
During the Obama administration, more immigrants were deported than in any other presidential term. Although they occupy a large portion of our population, in light of the recent criticism of immigrants and the election of President Trump, both documented and undocumented immigrants have become fearful of the nation they call home. While many American-born activists are impassioned and outspoken in light of the recent election, immigrants like myself are becoming weary.
Documented immigrants have an easier time speaking out than undocumented immigrants, because they cannot be easily deported, while those who are not naturalized and have yet to receive a green card are forced to censor themselves for their own sake and their family’s. If Immigration Services disapproves of an immigrant speaking out too much, it can hurt the chances of their family members who may not have been given green cards. Yet this fear is nothing compared to what undocumented immigrants face. For them, speaking out can mean being caught and deported without explanation.
The current dialogue surrounding immigrants and the fear that it presents to those who immigrated to this country highlights that being a citizen or permanent resident of this country is a privilege. I urge those with the privilege to do so to start dialogues about immigration issues because immigration policy has the force to directly affect the lives and rights of immigrants. Although we cannot vote on issues that impact us more directly than they impact the lives of citizens, we can raise our voices and educate those who do have the ability to vote on the struggles that we face. We follow the laws of this country and deal with the repercussions of immigration policy, but we have little to no power in influencing the laws or policy in any way. Help amplify our voices and stamp out xenophobia.
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Email at Devyani Shekhawat at firstname.lastname@example.org.