The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

From a citizen of the United States

November 3, 2020

Dear GV Students, Faculty, and Staff,

I have the privilege of being born a citizen of the United States of America, like many of you most likely are. I have access to financial aid, I have the privilege of going to school, and am able to look for good, well-paying jobs. I am able to apply for a driver’s license and I qualify for medical insurance; I can go about my day and not have to worry about having to drop everything I have worked so hard to create. My mother does not have that same privilege.

My mother immigrated here when she was only 21. She came only to visit her sister, but she became pregnant with me and decided to stay for my future. I owe everything to her, and I would not be here in college if it wasn’t for her blood, sweat, and tears. My mother is just as hard-working as any other citizen of the United States. My mother worked day and night when I was born to support me; In the mornings she worked as a housekeeper with my aunt and at night she worked in a cereal factory. She almost never got to see me because she was always working and having to hear that from her broke my heart. Even now, my mom works endlessly to make ends meet, and to be able to have money for me should I ever need it.

I have the privilege and honor to be able to tell my mom she no longer needs to work so hard for me. She no longer has to worry about my well-being, but she has to worry about my siblings and how they will go to college. Being the eldest of my siblings, I am expected to one day have to financially support them on their way to college. My mom can’t do it on her own anymore, and I owe it to her to help them. Despite doing this of my own will, it is still a daunting task, and I can only imagine how my mom must be feeling, how she felt when she worked endlessly for my future. It seems that she has a never-ending cycle of work and sleep. My mom has told me that she only suffers this way for me and my siblings and that seeing me work hard for my dream has made her prouder than she ever expected to be. I am living the American Dream for her, and she couldn’t be prouder of me.

My mother is just like any hard-working mother. She would do anything for me, just like your own mother would. Her status as an immigrant does not change who she is as a person. It doesn’t change the fact that she worked hard to where she is. It doesn’t change that she worked hard to provide her children the best. Her status only put up barriers that made it hard to work at a good job. It only stopped her from buying her own car and her own home without the help of my stepdad. She has nothing to call her own because she isn’t recognized as a citizen of the United States, despite embracing the very meaning of being an American. She has worked hard her entire life, and we live in constant fear that that will all be for nothing. I live in constant fear of having my mother taken from me simply for not being a citizen. I wake up every morning hoping I don’t have to call her from a different phone number. I can’t have my mom leave yet. My mom wants to go back to her country, but not until she sees some last milestones of mine. I want her to see me graduate college, I want her to see me buy my own car, I want her to see me accepted into a graduate program and rent my own apartment. I want her to witness all of that before she leaves. But she needs to leave of her own will; she deserves at least that much.

I ask the GV community to take this experience of mine and use it to expand your knowledge. The world is so much bigger than any of us truly realize, and so many aspects of it live here in the US. The US contains so many cultures from around the world, and we only need to expand our horizons a little to find them. But there is so much happening right next to you that you never realize. Many students of color live in fear every day for reasons that you may never understand. We have a duty to fight for the rights of every citizen and non-citizen in the US. We have a duty to shatter the systemic racism that poisons our communities every single day. We have a duty to fight for what is right.

I implore you to fight for us, for you and your family. This generation has a voice stronger than anyone before us. We have the power to change the US for the better. The election is mere days away; don’t throw away your constitutional right to vote. Many do not have that right, and we owe it to them to use our voices for them. Your vote is important, it is heard, it is powerful. Vote on November 3rd.

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