Identity | #3

June was Immigrant Heritage Month, and at National Immigration Forum, the communications team highlighted immigration stories from its staff and interns.

I didn’t always identify strongly with my immigrant heritage; when I was in middle school and high school, I tried my hardest to seem as American as possible, and bury my Korean heritage. But after my first two years at Michigan, I’ve come to embrace my identity as Korean-American and as an immigrant.

Being involved in immigration advocacy and attuned to immigration news means that I am constantly aware of my identity as a first-generation immigrant. When I see what is happening–the mental abuse of tearing apart families at the border, the physical abuse that happens in incarceration centers where the Trump administration is keeping detained immigrants, the recent Supreme Court decision on the Muslim travel ban–the list can go on and on–it hits close to my heart. While my immigration story is different from those who are currently seeking asylum and refugee status in the United States, who are mostly coming from Central American countries and Middle Eastern countries, respectively, immigrants all seek the same thing: a better life in the U.S.

To see the dehumanization of these people whose only crime is to find a safer home for themselves and their children is heartbreaking. They make sacrifices that many Americans cannot understand, but sacrifices that most immigrants can.

As part of NIF’s celebration of Immigrant Heritage Month, I asked my parents more about our immigrant story (I was only two and a half years old when we came to the United States), and learned about some of the sacrifices that my own parents made. Hearing more details about their stories for the first time, after having lived in this country for eighteen years, reminded me of how personal this fight is for me and how much I want to continue advocating for immigrants–whether documented or undocumented–in the future.

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