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What It’s Like to Be an Immigrant in the United States


For the past few years immigration has been a very hot topic. Everybody has different opinions about it, politics are involved, nationalism is big and very few people are neutral.

But more than laws, news, and politics, people should focus on the very core of what immigration is all about. There is a story behind every single immigrant in this country.

By definition, an immigrant is “a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.” For me, an immigrant is a person that decides to leave their country, family, friends, house, and job, looking for a new future. Some of them are running from wars, violence, persecution, poverty, while others are looking to find a better job or study abroad; others fall in love or simply want to be reunited with their families.

Bottom line is, being an immigrant in the United State is not easy! People are often criticized for migrating, and criticism comes not only from American people but people in their own home country as well.

Immigrants are faced with many challenges when they finally move to the U.S.; they find out that the American System and Government works differently than in their countries. They do not understand it. They probably don’t know what a social security number is, they don’t know how to get a driver’s license, they do not understand why they have to take a test to get a driver’s license, the tax system works differently. Maybe they try to lease an apartment or a house and they are faced with the fact that they need that strange social security number that for some reason everybody is asking for. They want to buy a car and they are asked for credit history which they don’t have because they just got here, so they then go to the bank and, surprise! Some banks will not even open a bank account without a social security number! Ok… let's get a loan? Surprise, again! Very difficult to get a loan with no credit history and not being either U.S. Resident or U.S. Citizen.

These are “small” factors people often don’t think about, and now let’s add the fact that they have to deal with this in a foreign language, a language that maybe they understand very little of and cannot pronounce very well. Wow! All of these sound very challenging and it can get more complicated depending on what immigration status you have. 

We cannot always compare Legal v. Illegal Immigration, either, as the challenge is the same for everyone new to the country. For example, the IRS will assign a social security number to those legal immigrants who are required to file taxes. And what about the spouses of some work visa holders? They are not required to file taxes because they do not have permission to work in the U.S., so that means they are legally in the United States accompanying their spouses, but guess what? Since they do not get to have a social security number, they cannot open a bank account and build credit history. Maybe they even have problems enrolling in English Classes because of this. As I said before, the challenge is for everybody.

Let’s empathize more with the human being leaving everything behind and shaking their entire world up to move to this great country.

– Fernanda Inegol, Immigration Attorney

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