The New Americans Campaign A Reflection by Cole Stockstill

My Initial Views and Beliefs of Migration and Immigration: Being from a small town in the middle of nowhere, I initially have had little to no contact with migrants in my community—my Spanish teacher being the only foreigner in my town. With this lack of contact, the world-wide issue of migration was of no political concern to me.

However, my involvement with the New Americans Campaign has exposed my ignorance about the complexity of US immigration policy and has reformed my views about migration and the people coming into this country for a new life.

The New Americans Campaign is a groundbreaking, nonpartisan national network of legal-service providers, faith-based organizations, businesses, foundations and community leaders that is paving a better road to citizenship (

Instead of not caring about this country’s immigration policy (and how broken it is), I feel more compassion for those who left their homeland for a new life and now begin their long struggle to become citizens of the USA.

My Experience: I spent two whole days volunteering for the NAC. The first day was very interesting. I got to meet the people who have just taken the first steps of applying for citizen. It was very interesting as I got to hear the about the stories of the new applicants—why they are here and what they hope to achieve—as well as help and guide them along the paper work of citizenship.

The home countries of the applicants I interacted with: Venezuela, Colombia, Nicaragua, and Honduras

While all the backgrounds of the prospective applicants were very interesting, some of the stories were sombering. Just like what we hear every day, the plight of the Venezuelans is no lie. A couple applicants had to leave behind their elderly parents and abandon their own children with other relatives. During this experience, I had a hands-on undertaking with the tedious and confusing paper-work applicants had to complete. Just some information needed includes income statements, employment history, all the destinations visited along with their durations for the past years, and the backgrounds of relatives (if any) of family members who live in the country.

The second visit to the NAC was not as much fun. The day was spent copying, filing, and delivering papers of prospective applicants. While this day was not as entertaining as the first, it was nonetheless a valuable one as I got a behind the scenes look at what the staff do when processing application. The staff of the NAC work very hard and deal with suffering mountains of bureaucracy and paperwork.

What does this mean for migration?: Due to my experience, I learned why the process of gaining a US citizenship can be considered a tortuous one. Today, the means being granted citizenship is no longer relatively simple as it was a century ago when immigrants were arriving on Ellis Island by ship. Just the mechanism of gaining a green card, which has a line of four million people, could take decades for some (NPR). Fortunately, there are programs such as the NAC that help streamline the application process and contribute lawyers to support the candidates.

Migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea by boat today (right) may seem reminiscent of the Europeans arriving to Ellis Island a century ago (left). However, the migrants of today face much stricter and more dangerous circumstances than their predecessors.

While I am still very ignorant and have much more to learn about the honors of gaining citizenship, my newfound sympathy for these migrants have me feeling as if the system might be broken and some overhaul might be needed—likely in the form more USCIS employees to expedite more applications. Another issue that should be addressed is that the people I saw were not coming to the US to commit crime, milk the welfare system, and steal our jobs for cheap, but were coming to escape unjust governments, maximize their potential, and enjoy the amazing life opportunities that we take advantage of every day.

Immigrants and supporters of more liberal immigration protest the policy of the Trump White House

Working with the NAC and having direct engagements with migrants is something everyone should experience at least once in his/her life. It would help foster new sympathy and understanding of the issues migrants face today and further appreciate the fruits we enjoy in our prosperous countries.

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.