• Anibal Santiago

"We have to work twice as hard to get anything in this country,"

Updated: May 3, 2020

The United States is a country of immigrants, built and strengthened by the differences and similarities that unite us. Yet, immigration remains a major topic that divides the political parties, implying that immigrants set the country backwards in many ways. The immigration policies in place remain flawed and require an immense amount of attention to implement the proper reform. But some citizens are still onboard with the current standings, whereas others feel they are too loose and should be stricter.

Although Mexico supplies the U.S. with the most live-in immigrants, other countries hold top ranks in the most transplants per year. According to Pew Research, more than one million immigrants arrive in the U.S. each year. The latest report in 2017, marked India as the top country of origin of new immigrants that immigrated to the U.S., with 126,000 people. But since 2010, Asian immigrants are the biggest group that has immigrated to the States, with projections of being the biggest ethnic group in the U.S. by 2055.

The negative narrative that floats over the heads of foreign-born citizens, or those seeking citizenship in the States, acts as an invisible wall between them and their native neighbors. The media shares stories that mostly highlights the Hispanic community when they speak on immigration. When you ask a native which group of people you think of when you are asked about immigrants, most answers are directed to Hispanics, specifically Mexicans. But of course, people from all over the world seek a life in the United States for different reasons.

Katerina Reichlova is a Czech Republic citizen that migrated to the United States in 2010 as an au pair. She settled in Connecticut for two years before she moved to California, in 2012. She worked as a nanny throughout her time in the states as she awaited her legal citizenship to get a legal, tax paying job. Once she married her boyfriend of two years, she waited four years before she received a green card in 2018.

“I missed out on my grandmother’s funeral in Czech because I was not able to legally leave and come back into the country. But that was the unfortunate sacrifice I took when I decided to start a new life in the America. Sometimes I wonder if I made the right decision,” said Katerina.

Reichlova said the response from Americans of immigrants depended on where you came from. Living in Los Angeles surrounded by many Mexicans, Reichlova said, if you were from a Latin country, she noticed, you got a standard “ok”, kind of answer. But when she told people she was from Europe; they didn’t even ask from where specifically, they just responded with a gesture of excitement and acceptance.

“European countries are all so different. They operate differently, speak so many different languages. We aren’t all the same, yet people here, group us together in a positive way,” said Katerina.

The lazy immigrant narrative or the “they take jobs away from native born citizens,” message doesn’t match the truth when asking immigrants themselves. Reichlova walked up and down a main highway passing out her resume to employers searching for work of any kind, to get on her feet, financially. With no car, no connections or any direction, she landed a job at a local donation center in her new town, within two days of searching.

“We have to work twice as hard as Americans to get anything in this country,” said Katerina.

Her boss, Nicholas Marsh, praised her work ethic and quickly made her the book department supervisor. He said the book department in his store has suffered neglect due to lack of attention from its employees. The neglect influenced the decline in book sales, which resulted in long-term shelf life.

“Ever since Kate started working in that department, she has made it her daily goal to organize the books on the shelves and fix the overall display. The book sales have jumped since she’s been there, even the cashiers have noticed as customers check out,” said Nicholas.

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