An ode to immigrant parents

Aanya Agarwal, Staff Writer

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My parents came to the U.S. with nothing but $200 dollars, a job opportunity, and a baby girl. They didn’t know anyone, their English wasn’t perfect, and their apartment consisted of an air mattress and dozens of boxes.

I’ve often wondered why they’d move 7,466 miles from the country they’d spent their whole lives to a strange new land. I know I couldn’t do it. Every time I ask, I get the same response; “We did it for you, Aanya”. The story of my parents is one of incredible perseverance and sacrifice, but it is by no means unique. Thousands of immigrant parents uproot their entire lives for the sake of better futures for their kids. To say the decision seems daunting is an understatement.

However, I am certain that no immigrant takes the decision lightly. They knew that the schools in the U.S. were better than the ones in India, and that although life here would be hard, it would be worth it.

My parents’ decision was difficult, but they were offered a work visa and came here as documented immigrants. For those who have to make the decision while knowing how the government would react to their status as undocumented, the decision seems impossible. Coming to the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant means risking losing your children, your entire life savings, and possibly your life. But staying often means continuing life in violent or poverty-stricken neighborhoods. No one actively wants to be an undocumented immigrant because they know the repercussions of being caught by ICE. Still, they take their chances in hopes that the risk will be worth it for themselves and their kids.

The process of being a documented immigrant isn’t easy either, although it certainly doesn’t face the level of ramifications that an undocumented immigrant would face if persecuted. Coming to the U.S. on a visa means thousands of dollars in legal fees, years of waiting for citizenship, and a harder time receiving financial assistance.

Documented or undocumented, the hardships encountered by immigrant parents are immeasurable. Aside from coming to a new country with no familiar faces, immigrant parents also face racism, loneliness, and homesickness. I’m sure many children of immigrants recognize the struggle involved with coming to the U.S., but we rarely acknowledge the sacrifices our parents make for us. Is it because we’re selfish? I don’t think so. I think it’s because we’re uncomfortable. It’s hard to recognize the magnitude of what one’s parents did for them, especially when most of us weren’t even there to see the struggle.

I guess writing this article is a way of saying the thank you that I’ve never been had the courage to say to my own parents. To all the immigrant parents who’ve given up so much in hopes of a better tomorrow, you are not invisible to your children. We may not say it, but we see the countless hours, days, and years you’ve put into making sure we had the best life you could have possibly give us.