Before this unit, the majority of my knowledge of immigration was limited to my parents own stories, and the policies that Donald Trump has suggested, including building the wall, his plans for deportation and preventing children born to illegal immigrants in the States from gaining automatic citizenship. I had also learned about the poor working conditions many immigrants had faced because of their undocumented status. However I did not know many specifics about these conditions, and while the name Caesar Chavez was familiar I did not know anything about his efforts to create the United Farm Workers. I also knew little about immigration laws like the Immigration and Nationality Act, which abolished restrictions on how many immigrants could come from a particular nation and shifted focus onto reuniting families.
The part of this unit that has been most interesting to me is the personal stories that we saw in the movie I Learn America and in the articles we read for class. Two stories that stuck with me were those of Brandon and Exel. Brandon wanted to learn but his passion for soccer distracted him and his parents decided to pull him out of school to work. While he did eventually get a second chance, the fact that he was almost denied the chance to finish his high school education resonated with me. Exel had a similar story. While he, unlike Brandon, was on top of his school work, he had to earn money to help support himself and his family. The only immigrant stories I had really heard before now were the ones my parents and their friends have told me, however the children we learned about in this unit had far more trouble than my parents. While my parents did not grow up with a lot of money, my grandparents put a focus on making sure that my parents, as well as my aunts and uncles received the best possible education. This meant that, unlike many immigrants, they had careers when they came here, my dad got a good job working with computers while my mom started her fellowship when she came to the States a few years later. Unfortunately for many the kids in the movie and in the articles, the education they received prior to coming to America was subpar and their families were more focused on surviving in dangerous areas. Unlike my parents, who came here for the job opportunities America offered, the kids came because they had no choice. Whether it was due to violence, or because their parents chose to come for another reason, these children were uprooted from their homes for reasons beyond their control.