Immigration and its Effects on the American Dream
As the daughter of immigrants I have been able to see and get a second-hand experience of how their hardships and battle scars have affected their political and social views. Find out how immigration affects one´s views of the American Dream.
Immigration influences one's ideas about the American Dream. As the daughter of immigrants I have been able to see and get a second-hand experience of how my parents ́ hardships and battle scars have affected their political and social views. Although they may have already overcome the issues they were subject to, it created a filter on their beliefs and political opinions in that they tend to side with ideas that pertain to their previous struggles.
Both of my parents are from Sri Lanka, a small island off the southern tip of India that is full of beautiful scenery and agriculture, but torn by poverty and the remnants of a devastating tsunami and civil war. My parents, both born to low income families, faced issues like long walks to school, dangerous civil war zones, and limited resources. Their only entertainment was no more than a tennis ball, their siblings, and schoolwork. While this may seem miserable, these hardships instilled a good work ethic and valuable lessons in them. They took these values with them when they traveled to America to get an education, leaving everything they know and love with nothing but a suitcase and hardly enough money. Upon arrival, they struggled to remain functional in society, especially with the language barrier. All their lives they were taught in Sinhala and were forced to speak English at a college level. Through perseverance, they developed a filter that caused them to root for the minorities, and side with causes that are empathetic with people going through similar issues. Through their adversity, they unknowingly developed their interpretation of the American Dream by believing the idea that success often comes from the underdog that faced obstacles along the way.
People tend to side with the experiences that solve issues that were important to their childhood. My parents got their citizenship just in time for the presidential election of 2008. While I was only four years old and could not understand what was actually going on, I knew that it was an important time for the United States and for my parents. This would be their first time voting in a big election. Barack Obama, the first African-American president, was elected, and my parents had voted for him over John McCain. Obama fought for issues like the protection of home ownership, flexible work schedules, paid medical leave, health care reform, and the end of the recession. Some of these things like protection of home ownership and flexible work schedules pertain to the, especially because in Sri Lanka, money was a significant factor that ruled their lives. Like many immigrants, they were against Donald Trump during the 2016 elections. He called for a wall between our country and Mexico, and repeatedly demeaned minorities and immigrants. I remember he was a topic of humor at my house and my parents did not believe he would be elected. Instead they supported Clinton because she focused on the rights of minorities of different races, women, the LGBTQ community, and more. She also fought for affordable healthcare. This fight for the little voices in America was exactly what my parents were looking for in a president. When she did not win, I remember their devastation and disappointment in our country. They had believed in America ́s ability to elect a man that helps the minorities. At some point during this election, my parent ́s views on minorities and diversity rubbed off on me and I began strongly believing in them. This shows the power of immigrant ́s past hardships. These issues tend to appeal to them because they understand their effects and they have empathy for the people affected by them. This has made my parents ́ view of the American Dream geared towards having a financially stable family and a place where discrimination is not tolerated.
I was brought up to be modest, intuitive, hardworking, and resourceful. These qualities reflect the values my parents held when in Sri Lanka.These values are stressed greatly because they had to be resourceful with their limited resources. They also had to work hard and persevere in order to make it to America, and they had to do this all with respect and modesty to their parents and to those around them. They believe those values are the most important in achieving the American Dream because that is what worked for them.
These political and social views that are influenced by immigration all contribute to the ideas of one ́s American Dream. In my parents' case, their American Dream was having the opportunity to get a top-notch education, get a stable and enjoyable job in order to fulfill their personal desires and to raise a happy family. The struggles that troubled them on this journey to achieve their American Dream are what defined their social and political views. My wish is that other people also recognize the persistence of immigrants and appreciate what they do for America. The respect and honor that I have for the struggles my parents and relatives went through to make a life for my family and me is reflective of my creed.