Naked Opinion

It Is Not Easy For Immigrants To Adapt To American Culture

immigration

Millions of immigrants fear for their sanctuary in what is known as the “American Dream”.

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016. This is the day that Donald Trump, an American businessman, took the new title as not only a politician but the newly elected president of the United States of America. Since that shocking evening, millions of Americans have acknowledged the fact that the topic of immigration has been given an exceeding gravity within every one of its related discussions, one to be avoided to evade conflict.

With millions of immigrants fearing for their sanctuary in what is known as the “American Dream”, it seems only appropriate to further explore the legal, social, and emotional challenges faced when one is to take it upon his or herself to pack up their lives in an overflowing suitcase and ship it, along with themselves, to the United States.

In fact, to further the real-world accuracies of these issues, I have decided to incorporate direct quotes from my family who moved from Calgary, Alberta, Canada to Johns Creek, Georgia, USA.

What if I told you that this “line” does not exist?

Many argue that having the condemned status of “illegal immigrant” deserves zero justifications because it is only fair to wait in line for legal documents like everyone else. 

What if I told you that this “line” does not exist? The process of becoming a legal permanent resident in the United States is one full of numerous lines that take months, and potentially years, to get to the front of. From paperwork to vaccinations, to photos, to fingerprints, to more paperwork, there are dozens of lines that are required to get into to even consider becoming legal. 

In addition, becoming a legal resident is not something that many government officials add to the top of their priority list as exemplified by Richard Kapteyn who stated that “it just seemed a little rigorous will all the vaccinations we had to do, all the legal documents to fill out. .they lost some of our paperwork and we had to redo it”. 

“It’s expensive, very time-consuming… .the process isn’t very streamlined.”-Richard Kapteyn

Not only that, this process is not one of being taken lightly financially. Aside from the cost of moving, in general, the legal steps required to become a resident shave off very large amounts of money from a budget, with legal fees costing anywhere between $6,000 and $10,000 dollars. This is where the term “everyone else” can be misleading.

As Tracy Kapteyn so truthfully states, “people are fortunate when your companies move you, although my company didn’t pay for everything. And all of the different fees you have to pay through the immigration process for the forms, the photos, the fingerprints, there’s definitely some cost there”.

The process of moving to the United States, not even considering citizenship, in itself is enough to discourage a family from ever finding legal sanctuary.

Such dispiritedness can relate to other struggles faced by individuals who are forced to start anew in a country that can essentially be described as a new world. There are many different things considered regarding emotional struggles for immigrants. It can start small.

Richard Kapteyn expressed how difficult it was leaving friends and family behind, quitting his job and having to find a new job, essentially starting over. Or it can encompass serious issues such a seeking refuge from the dangers of wars, terrorism and political conflicts or simply looking for a new culture that does not revolve around oppression. It is in these instances that people must remain less one-sided on the issue of immigration because there exist an infinite number of sides.

In fact, many immigrants even struggle in adapting to American culture. Picking out differences in social norms, Tracy Kapteyn explained her interpretation of these differences in asking herself, “Is this a Southern thing? Is this a Georgian thing? Or is this an American thing?”

“One of the big culture shocks was the . . .it’s not very progressive here in the South. Like moving here for my wife’s job was quite a shock to the people here; it’s more the males that work here than the females. Back at home, it’s more equal.” -Richard Kapteyn

Furthermore, in regards to the struggles faced even after moving, based on the research I have made and the stories and experiences I have been exposed to, the United States, despite being one of the most “free” and highly self-regarded countries in the world, is not a very knowledgeable one. 

From what many Americans are taught in history classes, to their lack of motivation to be self-informed, specifically in the South, it explains why much of the discrimination that immigrants in the United States face are because many Americans play such a large role in continuing false stereotypes and “making fun” of other cultures.

“Canada isn’t that many miles away, and there are so many people that we have met that are so clueless as to the environment that we actually lived in.” -Tracy Kapteyn

All in all, not all Americans hold such opinions towards illegal immigrants or even immigrants in general. However, before assuming or questioning someone else’s decisions, it is extremely important to position yourself to where they are standing. You may see it in a different light.

“I’m proud to be Canadian” -Dirk Kapteyn

Read more: A is for Amnesty: Why Has Immigration Reform Been Unsuccessful?

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About the author

Madison Kapteyn

Madison Kapteyn

Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Madison Kapteyn has developed her skills as a bilingual student, dedicated athlete, and compassionate coach. President of French Club and an involved member in the Gay Straight Alliance at her high school, she strongly believes in using her voice as a leader to speak out for those who don’t feel comfortable doing so. She is strongly engaged in her passion for helping children in addition to her love for the French language and culture, which led her to write her first article on the topic of immigration. Today Madison is a senior at Johns Creek High School in Georgia, looking forward to attending university in the fall of 2017 so that she may pursue her passion in pediatrics medicine.