Merriam-Webster defines an immigrant as a person who comes to another country to take up permanent residence. For many, especially in the third world, it is a dream one hopes to achieve. But for the rest, it is something they wouldn’t consider even in their wildest dreams.
Immigration is big business, be it for immigrants or the persons who are able to migrate, or the home countries of immigrants which they bring back money to (derived from either business or employment), or the host country whose local economy is being affected (positively or negatively) or in the case of illegal immigration, the underworld or underground economies.
But legal or otherwise, there are always repercussions that one might otherwise overlook which to the rest who would never ever consider it know fully well.
Me and my family migrated to the United States Mainland ten years ago. And we have since taken up permanent residency, filed and paid taxes, voted and became productive citizens of our new homeland. In this span of time, we have visited our former homeland twice — only doing so after becoming naturalized US citizens, a process which took five years.
What’s sad about these trips are for the most part, one misses one’s country when one is in the other. And the things one had longed for many years seem so petty and not as one would have expected.
And of course the trip across multiple time-zones is a killer and could take a week to get a handle on. And then by the time one gets accustomed to the time and the weather, one would be flying back and would have to face the same jetlag blues all over again.
A Second Class Citizen
The first few years I’ve been an immigrant, I’ve always felt like a second-class citizen. Many times whenever we go out, there will be someone who would give us the unsolicited look or worse, the attitude.
At times, it is something only immigrant-radars can detect. I once asked someone who was born and raised in the United States but belonging to a minority group if it is just me or are there really a lot of bigoted people in America. And the response I got was that if you personally felt discriminated upon, it is real and it isn’t right. And that I should report such incidents.
I’ve done that a handful of times since, but have long stopped the practice. To me, it was both a waste of my personal time or something which didn’t do anything beneficial for me, even if the guilty person would be penalized for being bad-mannered.
A Visitor Even In Your Own Home Town
Now after being back to the land of my birth twice, I have become convinced that there is something far worse than being treated as a second-class citizen overseas. It has now become far too real for me and I have now officially accepted it — I’ve become a foreigner in my own hometown.
Don’t get me wrong, I still look, talk and probably smell the same as any local. But mentally, psychologically and physically, I am not one of them. Each time I have come back, I’m not sure who the elected officials are, I don’t know who to root for as far as sporting teams, I have no clue as to the prices of anything, I can’t keep up with everyday conversation as there are always new terminologies I’m not familiar with, I’d get lost everywhere, I have to be a little bit careful of what or where I eat or drink, people I used to know well have either moved, moved on or passed away and everything else just seems different, distant, cold and foreign — not unlike in America.
Migrants: Be Careful What You Wish For
I guess, my warning to any immigrant, be very careful what you wish for, for you might just get what you want but you might not want what you’d get.