Until about 5 years ago, the identity of being an “Asian-American” never really hit or took hold in my life. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about my heritage or pride for it, but growing up, I never had to think about labeling myself as one thing or another. In the more recent years and months, especially with all the concern surrounding our new administration’s approach and attitude towards immigration policies, I’ve started to reflect on my stances and thoughts towards these things.
Once again, I find myself at the crossroads of not knowing how who I see myself informs my thoughts. I am both a US born citizen and an immigrant, which is the same reason that makes my Asian American identity that much more complicated. I’ve never identified with the “Asian-American” experience, as in the hyphenated identity experience. At the same time, having spent my formative years in Taiwan, though moving back to the States felt like a bit of “homecoming” to a degree, there are certain trained mentalities that I observe in people who were born here have, and I may never be able to relate to some of them. I have been blessed with being raised fully in the midst of two different cultures, as opposed to being raised in between the two different cultures, which is often what causes these “-American” identity complex.
As this administration just announced it’s decision to end DACA, something which I knew nothing about until a few months ago when a close friend who is a recipient so patiently and gracious explained it to me, I can’t help but feel unsettled by this privilege of being a U.S. citizen that I never asked for. Yes, it is still a privilege I am proud of by all accounts, but it should never make an individual feel more entitled over others. I never chose to be born here, nor did I ever “thank” my parents for having me while my dad was still studying in the States. Likewise, many people were brought to the States by their parents and guardians when they were young, to afford them opportunities, to remove them from possible hostile environments, in pursuit of a better life. Yet sometimes I look at what obstacles have stood their way and I wonder, “Is it truly a better life?” For the recipients of DACA, it was never a choice that they themselves made to come to the States, but it’s the only life they have ever known. To forcibly remove all individuals with this status tells me that you do not care about how the rest of the world desires your freedom and privilege; you’re too caught up in the protection of your entitlements to care about others.
In Lin Manuel-Miranda’s “Hamilton”, he writes, “Immigrants, we get the job done.” It’s because of the hustle of these workers that allows the wheels of this nation to turn. What the country had once prided itself on in American ingenuity (which let me just stop here and say, that I will never trust an American made car over a Japanese made car), is taking steps to erase half the population that makes up the brilliant minds behind the ingenuities.
I think of the thousands of high school, college, and graduate students, who walk into the classrooms on their first day of class wondering of how any of their academic year ahead even matters; I think of what those same young people, many of whom are my friends and community members, face on a day to day with the sense of security and trust they once had ripped from underneath them. They have not only worked hard to maintain their statuses, but they have also been lied to, betrayed, by the very hand that fed them.
The church needs to do a better job of speaking up and speaking out, and it needs to do a better job of offering biblical counsels and guidance. But I am also a part of the church, and so are my brothers and sisters who were once protected under DACA.
I am a rightful occupant in the home in which I reside, but I have also lived away from this residence for years. When the administration pulls a move like this without a replacement plan in hand, I am left wondering, “Do I even want to stay living here?”
Let’s turn back to again to the words that Yahweh spoke to the nation of Israel as they wandered in the desert, “Lest you forget that you were also once strangers in the land of Egypt…”