Why They Come Here

Sep 22, 2016

Join Radio Readers on Sunday, November 13, 2016, from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. to discuss the many reasons immigrants come to the United States. It's the 2016 Fall Read "Stories - Borders and Becoming."
Credit ANNE HOLT, Edina, Minnesota

Following is a provocative story shared by a reader.  On Sunday, November 13, 2016, HPPR Radio Readers Book Club will be discussing thoughts about immigrants and their stories.  We hope you'll join us.

From Anne --

I know. You want me to shut up. I love you, but I don't care.

On this day two years ago, I, along with some of the best human beings I know, visited a wall with nearly 30,000 names of human beings who were killed or disappeared in El Salvador during the 1980s. And it’s said to be an incomplete list.

On the same trip I met a boy named Felipe. He ultimately became my family’s scholarship student. We paid a paltry sum ($35, I think) and it magically turned into a school uniform, a backpack, and school supplies; enabling him to get an education. He’s not our scholarship student anymore, because he and his brother have left the community, which is plagued with gang violence. I cannot share all the details, but I can tell you they left under duress. I am not posting his photo here out of concern for his safety.

I’m sharing these two nuggets of information, because I feel like there are huge misconceptions about why people come to America. Think about it. What would make you decide to up and leave everything you’ve ever known for a country where you’re going to nothing less than maligned simply because of the color of your skin? I’ll give you a hint: It’s not a burning desire to replace all our McDonald’s and Burger Kings with taco trucks.

We (myself included) have joked about the taco trucks and the walls and the bad hombres. I trend toward trying to be funny when I’m scared. I need to knock that off, because we’re talking about human beings. All they want is to live. And they come here because it’s their last best option to do so.

From the Wall of Names, El Salvador. 2014.
Credit ANNE HOLT, Edina, Minnesota