Digital Reflection By: Danny Ivanov

With my volunteer work at the New Americans Campaign, I spent a majority of my time working with accredited representative Esperanza Montaldo. An accredited representative essentially functions as a lawyer and is approved by the Board of Immigration Appeals to represent immigrants in court. Esperanza and I helped clients fill out the proper application forms and prepared them for questions they might face during the interview process to help calm them down. There were two applicants in particular I assisted that made a personal impact on me.

One applicant was a young man in his early 20s hailing originally from the Dominican Republic. He shared with me that he was currently a legal permanent resident enrolled in classes at Miami Dade Community College, hoping to eventually advance his education by transferring his credits to a four year university in order to obtain a bachelor's degree. He would be the first in his family to go to college and break through a vicious cycle of poverty.

This young man's story inspired me because I could tell how badly he wanted to reach his goals as he was passionately communicating his story. As i listened intently, I realized that this young man is exactly why the United States needs immigrants. It is an already well documented fact that immigrants start new businesses at a higher rate than the native born population. Why would we want to lose out on this young man's human capital? Why would we want him to take his talents to another country only to see the U.S. suffer from a "brain drain." His story reinforced in me the idea for a need for the U.S. to pursue a liberal immigration policy to attract the best and brightest talent the world has to offer.

Another client I worked with that made a profound impact on me was a middle aged man originally from Nicaragua who has been a legal permanent resident since 2001. I asked him why he all of a sudden chose to apply for full citizenship now. "I want to stick it to Trump" he retorted and no longer live in fear of what a Trump presidency might bring his family.

This man's motivation to "stick it to Trump" as he said made me realize the importance of the current political moment. As much as I resent the Trump administration and everything it stands for, I realize that as a white male, I will largely be unaffected by whatever discriminatory policies this administration chooses to pursue. People like this man however don't have that luxury. There are millions of Americans that are genuinely petrified of what tomorrow might bring because of the hostile, nativist rhetoric coming from this White House. It motivates me to get even more involved politically at the local, state,and federal level to quell the fears of millions of Americans.

As I finish my work with the New Americans Campaign, I realize how important this line of work is. Quite frankly, America needs these people. It is crucial that America does not give in to fear and close the door on people like these two men I worked with. If we close the doors on them, the future doctors, lawyers, engineers, and business owners will choose to set up shop elsewhere rather than America. The American economy can not afford that if it wants to compete in a 21st century global economy. American universities will suffer and key sectors of our economy will collapse. We, as Americans, must rise up and organize against the nativist policies of the current administration. The importance of the political moment demands it.

Credits:

Created with images by karen_neoh - "Courtroom" • Free Grunge Textures - www.freestock.ca - "Dominican Republic Grunge Flag" • Phillip Pessar - "Downtown Miami Miami Dade Community College" • IsaacMao - "Brain" • Free Grunge Textures - www.freestock.ca - "Nicaragua Grunge Flag" • 3dman_eu - "white male 3d model isolated" • Fibonacci Blue - "March in support of immigrants and refugees" • maxlkt - "hand united hands united"

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