Common Misconceptions of Immigration

   Americans often misunderstand the lives of refugees because of widespread misconceptions. Refugees entire lives are put on hold and are often put in danger, many even perish along the way. Many aspects of immigration are often overlooked and brushed under the carpet. Refugees do not have the option to leave their homeland and lose more than just their house in search of a better life.
   The U.S government and media often say that immigrants come into our country and steal taxpayer’s jobs. What isn’t publicized is the struggles immigrants and refugees face to make it to America or a safer place to restart their lives. There are many dangers that come with migrating and seeking refuge. An example of this is seen in the article Desperate Crossing by Scott Anderson, it tells the story of 733 refugees traveling from Eritrea to Sicily. The article includes photographs of the cramped boat, the hundreds of refugees had nothing but the clothes on their backs, which was the only thing between them and the hot summer sun. Most of the children on the boat did not know how to swim and there were no lifejackets onboard the boat. The migrants paid upwards of $1,500 for what they thought was a 6-8 hour journey, realistically though, it would take 6-8 days. Before the boat reached the island of Sicily the boat capsized, only 28 refugees survived. Sadly events like this are common, thousands of refugees die in transport to a new home some contracting life-threatening diseases or starving. Yet these are not the things that we are frequently made aware of. Instead, we are told that refugees do nothing but steal taxpayers’ jobs and create havoc within the country. If the media would allow citizens to see the struggles refugees and immigrants face there would be a better understanding of their intentions. To live a healthier and happier life in a safer environment.  
When immigrants uproot their families and lives they lose more than their home, they lose irreplaceable aspects of their life. Refugees’ homeland is somewhere they do not need to explain their identity or subside their culture, but when they are forced to leave their home they also lose their identity. This is especially clear when moving to the United States, many immigrants have to explain themselves and their identity in hopes of being accepted. In the novel, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri she touches on the losses that come with immigrating. On page 56 Lahiri writes ¨They’ve learned their lesson after Gongol. They´ve learned that schools in America will ignore parents’ instructions and register a child under his pet name. The only way to avoid such confusion, they have concluded, is to do away with the pet name altogether, as many of their Bengali friends have done.¨ This quote represents how it is difficult to stay true to your culture when the people around you don understand its importance. Rather immigrants give up the fight to show their culture and identity, afraid of disrespect from others. United States citizens are predisposed to assumptions for Muslims, giving people the idea that they are all terrorists. Sadly people do not take the time to understand people’s differences, instead, they try to conform them to their standards. Another example of how immigration causes many people to lose their culture and identity is seen in the article A Return to Nigeria. Enuma Okoro writes of the differences immigrants feel when visiting their homeland, “Each time I boarded the plane to return to the States it was with a surprising hint of sadness. I became increasingly uncertain about what I was really going back to. Sure, there was a reliable infrastructure of basic necessities like electricity and medical care. Yet, back in Nigeria, I had the irreplaceable experience of feeling connected to an untapped part of myself. I was gaining insight into my ancestral and communal identity as a Nigerian, as an Igbo woman.” This quote shows how refugees lose their sense of culture and their identity when moving to a better living environment. This quote from the article shows how at some point refugees would rather sacrifice their living environment to live somewhere they don’t need to explain their identity and culture. Many people do not acknowledge the sacrifices refugees make to have a better life in a safer environment. 
Seeking refuge has lifelong damaging effects on immigrants. Throughout the film Beasts of the Southern Wild, the viewer realizes what being an outsider can do to a person. Immigrants and refugees often feel like outsiders in their own homes. They are treated differently even though we are all people, that cannot seem to accept each other’s differences. At the beginning of the film the protagonist, Hushpuppy narrates a conversation between her and her father as he explains life outside the “bathtub”. “ Ain't that ugly over there? We got the prettiest place on earth. Daddy says, up above the levee… on the dry side, they're afraid of the water… like a bunch of babies. They built the wall that cuts us off. They think we all gonna drown down here. But we ain't going nowhere.” This scene in the movie stuck with me as Hushpuppy is very young and is already being taught the ways in which the world discriminates against those who stray from the streamline. Those living in the bathtub make up a community of understanding individuals who come together and celebrate their differences. People living on the other side of the levee treat people of the bathtub as outsiders. Similarly, many immigrants are treated as outsiders, they have to work harder to be seen and treated as equals. Having to prove and explain themselves to be accepted causes emotional damage, feeling inadequate for being themselves. Ultimately immigrants tell their stories, passing them down from generation to generation. Another scene from Beasts of the Southern Wild that represents the emotional damage immigrants deal is when Hushpuppy says ̈If Daddy kill me I ain't gonna be forgotten, I ́m recording my story for scientists of the future.¨ Immigrants and refugees tell their stories so that their struggle is never forgotten. Immigrants and refugees lose their culture and identity when searching for the start of a better life. Sadly although they escape the struggles in their homeland they are dealt a whole new stack of difficulties that ultimately pose lifelong emotional damage. 
   In today’s society, immigrants and refugees are misunderstood and placed under a category of unworthy. They are treated with disrespect for being different when in reality every single person is unique and different and deserves an opportunity for a better life. Americans often misunderstand the lives of refugees because of widespread misconceptions. The misconception that refugees do nothing more than steal taxpayers’ jobs and money hides their struggles. That immigrants’ entire lives are put on hold, they ́re put in danger, and they ́re forced to seek refuge. The sooner this misconception is forgotten the sooner everyone can accept each other differences and respect each other enough to give others the opportunity for a better life.