Through all times in American history, Mexican immigration has always been consistent. In the beginning, they mostly settled in the southern States because it was closer to reach. During the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, Mexicans established new settlements in non-traditional destinations of the Midwest and eastern seaboard regions (New Destinations 2005). One of these states were Kentucky, and today we see a Mexican community in Lexington, rather called Mexington, Kentucky. Because Kentucky is one of the states in the country with the lowest taxes (State Tax Handbook 2015; CCH Inc), it makes sense to settle here as someone unemployed and in most cases, poor. It is not until the last century, though, that the Mexican immigration has become so rapid that the system eventually “failed”. A lot of people refer to the Mexican immigration system as “broken. Today we see undocumented Mexicans who keeps applying for green cards, and then eventually citizenship, and in most cases, it is simply just not possible. Getting through college is extremely hard because with no social security number, no financial aid. A lot of Americans see these people as “illegal aliens”. I see something completely different.
After coming to the University of Kentucky as an international student from Norway, I learned that leaving your family, your home, everything you know is never easy. I was homesick, I felt like a stranger. If I felt sick, I tried to avoid going to the doctor as long as I could. I eventually did have to go to the doctor, and I felt embarrassed when they asked me for my social security number, or my insurance card, because I did not have any of them. I felt bad for my mom, asking her for money because I am in a country that will charge me $100 just for a doctor check up if you do not have insurance, compared to my home country where health care is free. Despite all this, I grew up in one of the richest countries in the world, and I willingly came her with a plane ticket, and a scholarship waiting for me.
Me saying goodbye at the airport in 2012
I have always heard some Americans complain, saying things such as “They took our jobs” and “they need to go back to where they come from”. I never judged them, but I did have a picture in my mind of what a typical Mexican looked like, what they did, and why. Through the Mexington Kentucky class, I started seeing things differently. I saw myself in some of the stories I heard in class, the only difference was, that I am not even near to have gone through what a lot of them did to get here. To live the “American Dream”. Through class meetings, the book “Living Out Loud’, and Mexican students sharing their story to me such as the DREAMers, I now saw a new face of the Mexican immigrant. I saw someone who is just as adventurous as me, someone who is hardworking, smart, maybe even so Americanized that they do not remember their childhood in Mexico. If you came to the States as a child, and all you can remember is America, how can someone tell you to “go home’. Their home is the United States.
DREAMers demonstrating in Washington, DC, also called “the Trail of Tears”, 2010.
I now have so much respect for undocumented Mexicans, and I am very thankful for learning all I did in this course. I have experienced discussing topics I have learned in class with my friends on my free time, with my host-family over the dinner table and it is important to teach others what I have learned. Maybe, in the future, we will see a better and more open America.
Zuniga, Victor, and Ruben Hernandez-Leon. New Destinations: Mexican Immigration in the United States. Russel Sage Foundation, Apr. 7, 2005. Print.
CCH Tax Law Editors. State Tax Handbook Dec. 22, 2015.