Our American Stories
Americans are encouraged to think in terms of what it will cost us to be welcoming to immigrants. Those “costs” generally focus on the idea that immigrants take jobs away from hard-working Americans as well as the burdens that newcomers might put on education, healthcare, and social service.
We often call ourselves a “melting pot” and note that “we are all immigrants.” But what about the policy debates and media discussions on immigration and asylum? Those conversations often incorporate viewpoints that are charitably described as being “less optimistic.” Instead of focusing on the benefits that come with immigrants, such as culture, a workforce, and exposure to different parts of the world without actually having to travel there, Americans are encouraged to think in terms of what it will cost us to be welcoming. Those “costs” generally focus on the idea that immigrants take jobs away from hard-working Americans as well as the burdens that newcomers might put on education, healthcare, and social services, as well as the threats we might be opening ourselves up to, ranging from people that reject our language and culture to violent criminals and terrorists.
Maybe this is why we accept the difficult time that outsiders have in navigating our immigration system. We have heard so many of these conversations; maybe we think that the only people who have problems with U.S. immigration are those who should have problems with it. These are assuredly not the people we were talking about when we said that “immigration makes us stronger,” right?
This is why Ketaki Desai’s story is so important. She’s exactly the kind of immigrant that Americans are talking about when they proclaim the virtues of our melting pot. Ms. Desai has a Bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, a Ph.D. in biomedical science, and a Master’s in public management. She speaks perfect English, has valuable skills, and has put no burden on Americans of any kind. After 12 years of navigating the US immigration system, however, she gave up and took a position with the Ontario Centre of Innovation, and was approved for permanent residency in Canada within months of applying.
We encourage everyone to read Ketaki's story and think about whether our immigration system works at all if even the highly qualified are unsuccessful in gaining citizenship.
To continue the conversation about immigration, we invite you to listen to Episode 5 of Resistbot Live when we look at another of our American stories through the eyes of a young woman who is currently navigating the immigration and asylum process.
You can watch Resistbot Live on Sundays, and if you miss us, you get our show everywhere you find your favorite podcasts.
Interested in the history of immigration legislation in America, check out our article, The Golden Door.
Thank you to Susan S.