“Family Immigration Effect” story transcript
Caitlin Flora: Hey, thanks for listening. I’m Caitlin Flora and I’ll be your host today. I’ll be talking about immigration today, but not in the way you might think. I’ll touch on the history of immigration and include insight from an interview with my childhood best friend, the daughter of an immigrant from Canada, Lily Fera.
In Trump’s America, the discussion around immigration is more prevalent than ever. President Trump’s platform in the 2016 elections included a rhetoric charged with prejudice against immigrants who leave their home country to come to the United States of America. [Voice of President Donald J. Trump:] “We have some bad hombres here and we’re going to get them out.” Statements like these have led to how a lot of people view immigrants today – as bad people who come into our country just to steal our jobs and commit crimes.
However, this belief is simply not [unintelligible] fact. There are plenty of Americans citizens who commit crimes and jobs hire the best people to fit the role. The way many Americans see immigrants can cause more problems than immigrants themselves do.
The United States of America has long been known as a nation of immigrants. Dating back as far as the 1600s with the pilgrims, people have come to America with hopes of a better life pushing them forward.
However, this long history of immigration has not been an easy road. Around the 1700s, many immigrants who could not afford the steep price of passage to the country became indentured servants who worked to pay their debts and [unintelligible] passage. Some people were voluntary indentured servants, but others were forced into it, as well as some people being [sic!] forced into slavery in America.
Reasons to immigrate to America have long ranged from things like the California gold rush promising work to escaping natural disasters. But one common thread is that it’s not an easy process. And therefore, those who do make that choice to come work hard to get here.
I talked to my childhood best friend Lily Fera about her experience growing up with her mother who is from Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario, Canada. Her mother moved to Michigan when she married Lily’s father, a U.S. citizen, in 1996, and Lily was born three years later in 1999.
Not many people are more affected by immigration than the children of immigrants – and growing up Lily knew that her mom was an immigrant, but none of the issues surrounding light really came to light for her till she moved away from Michigan to Arizona.
[Lily Fera:] When I lived in Michigan up until the age of 7, I don’t remember ever thinking about my mom’s immigration status or where she was born. Maybe it was mentioned, but there was nothing significant about it to me until I moved to Arizona. Immigration and illegal and legal aliens are such hot topics in this state that it [sic!] brought up questions for me as a child. I wondered if everyone wanted her deported, like they said they did Mexican people.
It [sic!] definitely brought up some feelings of fear especially surrounding elections. As immigration became a more talked about issue, I definitely worried about it as a kid that somehow it was going to change and my mom was going to leave. I wouldn’t say it was present daily, but certainly when the topic came up. At the same time, I also felt totally cool with it because I had citizenship in both countries because of my mom, so I guess it went both ways.
In Arizona, Lily says there is a visible difference between prejudice against immigrants from places like Mexico compared to Canada. Hispanic people in Arizona face much more discrimination than her mother ever has and, while she says she is grateful that her mother’s immigration process was so easy and no traumatic experiences came as a result, as a child she couldn’t understand the distinctions that people made between immigrants who looked Hispanic and non-white and immigrants like her mother, from places like Canada, and was fearful that something bad would happen to rip her family apart when she started hearing discussions based around immigration discourse.
Growing up, Lily says that, while her family celebrated the day after Christmas, Boxing Day, that was really the only Canadian tradition that was kept alive. However, this stems from the fact that her mother’s family immigrated to Canada from Italy, so many of her family’s traditions are rooted in Italy rather than Canada.
Lily’s story is unique in the sense that not much of the current political discourse focuses on countries like Canada, but it is not unique in the long history of America. The child of an immigrant who is also the child of immigrants, Lily’s family is much like many in American now. After all, this country has long been known as a melting pot – and I think that is what makes America great.
Till next time, I’m Caitlin Flora. Thanks for listening. [Music fades.]