For many today, the United States is seen as the land of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. However, in the 21st century, this might be more difficult as political dynamics have led many people who are not citizens to fear for their livelihood in the United States.
Within this past century, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has allowed for resident alien children to apply for a work permit, and have up to two years to obtain that status. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “the Trump Administration had not properly terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program,” according to the National Law Review. Although the acting secretary of homeland security, Chad Wolf, has changed the DACA application rules, plaintiffs are asking the U.S. district court to force the administration to comply with the order to return DACA to its previous state that existed before 2017.
For a country that once was formed and grew rapidly because of immigration, it would not be a stretch to see that the process has continued to become difficult during current times. Not many can explain the process of immigration unlike someone who experienced it first-hand.
Scott Lightbourn, senior accounting and Spanish double major, is a very recent citizen of the United States, after receiving his green card through a lot of hard work. Lightbourn said, “My entire process started in high school, where I applied for a student visa in the Bahamas, where I am originally from. My plan was to go to the states and live with my godmother and finish my last two years of high school and then move onto university. I got approved after a few interviews and the paperwork process. This took quite a few trips to our main island in the Bahamas, as that is where the US Embassy is located.”
He explained that the easier part was getting to the United States and the harder part was the stress that it took to try and stay. “The process is one that is filled with stress and worry,” Lightbourn said. “You feel that you know less and less as time goes on, and ultimately you just have to hope it all works out.”
His parents first had to apply for their citizenship and his brother and himself shortly followed. “We had to answer many travel questions for interviews, go to specific doctors just to dot our i’s and cross our t’s in a sense. This was the most emotional experience, as time led up to interviews and meetings, we could feel the stress of the situation for ourselves and from our parents,” Lightbourn said. “Honestly, we had no real guarantee we would get in. If we went to an interview and said just the wrong thing or gave someone an incorrect impression, it could all end up bad, not that there was any reason for bad things to happen, but we always felt the pressure of it.”
Lightbourn’s experience was one that may be common for some, but not all experiences are the same. Some may be physically, emotionally or even spiritually draining.
Another story told by the Immigrant Defense Project shared how Hugo Carrascos and his family now are at a loss for hope. This came because Carrascos was actually brought to the United States illegally when he was 10. Not understanding that he was undocumented, he viewed the U.S. as his home, began working for an organization called Young Life after high school and married his wife, Leslie.
According to the Immigrant Defense Project, in 2011, Carrascos “was arrested by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office while conducting a worksite raid at the restaurant where he worked,” and he ended up spending “three months in county jail” while his wife was pregnant with their first child. Carrascos was charged “with attempting to use the identity of another, a felony under Arizona law.” He is seeking to apply for DACA, which his brother and sister have already been granted. Now, he and his wife have two children, but he is “in removal proceedings and faces permanent separation from his family.”
Stories like these, whether they be at John Brown University or in other parts of the United States, should remind everyone to treat immigrants, who have gone through many trials to be our neighbors, coworkers and friends, with respect.