Facing threats and uncertainty in America as an immigrant

The last weekend was a horrific one. Two consecutive mass shootings took place, killing 30 people in total and injuring many more. They are not the first mass shootings in the US this year. Heck, they are not even among the first 100. What’s even scarier is the rhetoric and motivation behind the atrocious actions by the shooters. The anti-immigrant stance.

As an immigrant living in this country, the threat of getting killed suddenly by some random person on the streets has never truly left my mind. I never felt that way in Vietnam, Finland or Canada, even though people do own guns in the latter. In the US, I strive to stay away from states where mass shootings take place more often than others such as Texas, Florida and Virginia. One time, there was a shooting downtown Omaha, 5 blocks away from where I live. It’s truly mentally unraveling to think that one day, you may die through no fault of your own. Personal safety is one of the most fundamental needs of humans. We use a product or service because first of all, we feel safe with it to some extent. We travel to a country because we feel safe to some extent. If we don’t even feel safe, how can we truly be 100% productive and happy?

I honestly don’t think I need to spell it out, but here we are. As an immigrant, I experienced first hand how horrible the bureaucracy is and how difficult it is to find a good-paying job in America. Immigrants don’t start from the same level as Americans. We don’t speak English as the first language. We come with the baggage of visa and sponsorships which can deter employers. We don’t know fully the culture here. To just even have a shot, we need to abide by the rules and avoid as much as possible any legal trouble. One felony or DUI can significantly sink any chance of getting paperwork or jobs. I believe that any immigrant who wishes to stay here and build a career doesn’t want to break the laws. We just want to get on with our lives and be left alone. Yet, the anti-immigrant rhetoric doesn’t seem to abate. It has gotten worse and worse. The policies have become more unfriendly.

Despite all these, we still come here to study and work. We find full-time jobs, work and pay taxes. Some work low-paying jobs that not every American agrees to do. This begs the question: what have we done wrong?

The sad thing is that in spite of all technological advances, the hope that this situation, whether it is immigration or just gun control, will be fixed is very slim in my opinion. The divisiveness and partisanship in the government will stop anything from happening. Everyone in the public shows no signs of discussing a solution. No matter how much logic is put forward, there are always denial, attacks and steering the conversation to another direction. I tried to reason with a few individuals I knew with different opinions than mine on the gun control issue. I stopped trying. And I know that feeling is not exclusive to me. But when we stop trying, the only way ahead is downhill.