My friend Nadia (as you'll read) is nothing short of amazing. She's warm, inviting, and curious to learn about other people's cultures, religions, and beliefs. She does this humbly emanating her sense of curiosity rather than a sense of judgement or condescension.
Some people do not embrace this mind-set. Most notably, our President-Elect who has become famous for his lack of "political correctness". A trait so frightening, that he has argued against the same immigration that our country was founded on. It is understandable why so many people have publicly made statements (another freedom Americans are so lucky to have). As my book 21 & Counting highlights voices from other twenty somethings and as the new administration affects voices greater than I--today, I share Nadia's story.
My parents moved from Pakistan to the United States for the usual- hopes of a better life for them and their future family. My parents moved us from one town to another nearby solely because of the school system. At this point, my siblings and I were just entering middle school or were even younger. My parents valued the blue ribbon more than anything.
Today at 3 PM, my older sister emailed the family and I an article about how our hometown received some of the highest test scores in the state. We're proud to be from Bergen County, and it has molded a lot of who we are today.
Today at 4 PM, I arrived on campus at Columbia University to a "walkout" taking place in the center of Low Hall and Butler Library. Our diverse crowd was standing to demand that our campus become a sanctuary for undocumented students. I heard from the voices of my fellow students, undocumented immigrants that are faced with this impending fear that their future could actually be torn apart in a matter of months.
Last week, the United States elected a new president. The day after Election Day I couldn't find even one way to articulate my thoughts (a silent speech-language pathologist is quite the oxymoron). I felt so discouraged, as did many other Americans. After some time passed and things calmed down a bit, the President-elect then reaffirmed that he stands with his statement from campaigning, and will vow to deport millions immediately when he takes office. When this news hit international media, my cousin in Pakistan called several days later to ask how we were doing.
"We're doing better now, thanks," my mother responded matter-of-factly.
"No," he said, "will you be safe?"
I share Columbia with everyone that attends our school. It is home. I always think of how lucky we are to have such an open space to breathe among this city of concrete and skyscrapers. I wonder how I'm any different from our undocumented students. We all worked equally hard to get where we are. And, I think of how difficult my life would be, had my parents not immigrated to this country, moved to the next town, and pushed me to do my best in school because my education is what was going to get me somewhere in life. Education was going to allow me to pursue my passion. America would give me a chance. My fellow students and I would be nothing without our opportunities throughout our occupations as students. We all deserve this right, and none of my classmates should feel afraid to have that taken away.
I am Up With Education, and Down With Deportation.