Every time my parents talk about emigrating from Central America, they say, “We were idiots. We didn’t know anything back then, and we didn’t have support.” They’ve worked multiple jobs to provide for me, but it often makes me sad because I can rarely spend quality time with them like other kids do. This sadness and loneliness is something I share with hundreds of other immigrant children. Yes, my parents’ hard work might pay off, but at what cost? They have been working multiple jobs and paying taxes for years but still can’t access healthcare. It’s not much that they’re asking for. Heck, they aren’t asking anymore because they’ve lost hope and faith. So U.S. lawmakers should enact legislation that all immigrants can obtain citizenship and access basic human rights, regardless of how they entered the country.

Immigrants face many challenges whenever they ask for healthcare and economic or political rights, which affects the life ahead for them and their families. According to Healthcare.gov, “Many qualified non-citizens (such as …green card holders)…must wait five years after receiving ‘qualified’ immigration status before they can get Medicaid and CHIP [Children’s Health Insurance] coverage.” From this, we can see that even if these immigrants meet all the requirements (working, paying taxes, and obeying the law), they still can’t access their rights because of the challenging system in place. Struggling to obtain healthcare impacts many families significantly because when they need medical attention, they often can’t get government assistance. It also impacts them economically because hospital bills are high, and some of these families are earning minimum wage, which barely helps them provide for their families.

Luckily, helpful organizations have been created to help immigrants with their rights and citizenship. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) promotes the protection of the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their legal status. According to the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), “The administration can and should: 1) develop and support robust communication and planning between federal, state and local governments, and civil society, so that those arriving migrants in need of additional support can be matched with a destination with capacity to provide services.” These organizations tend to help out immigrants in vulnerable situations where many use their status to hurt and take advantage of them. NIJC helps place immigrants in locations where there is support available while OHCHR helps protect immigrants’ human rights since they are again in a vulnerable state. These are very helpful to the many immigrants entering the country because they focus only on helping immigrants through the changes instead of judging and hurting them.

Some Americans think that immigrants don’t deserve to be given citizenship, rights, or even entry to the country because they assume the government will be put into debt, and that will increase the budget deficit. The CATO Institute, for example, states, “Immigrants consume more in government benefits than they generate in tax revenue.” However, their assumption is wrong because immigrants don’t increase the budget deficit or put the government into debt; they actually help keep the economy strong. The article “The 14 Most Common Arguments Against Immigration and Why They’re Wrong” declares, “Immigrants grow the economy considerably and increase tax revenue … meaning they give an immediate fiscal boost.” This is a further reason that immigrants should have the benefits of citizenship, no matter their legal status.

U.S. lawmakers should enable all immigrants to obtain citizenship and basic human rights, regardless of how they entered the country. These immigrants aren’t crossing borders for themselves; they’re doing it for their families. They wish to give their family better lives but cannot do so when they are not treated as citizens or don’t have rights. Just imagine it’s you or your family having to go through pain and suffering for a better life, but you can’t access all your rights because of your legal status. You don’t want that for your family, nor for the millions of immigrants out there. So, instead of supporting these politicians who don’t want to help, support the organizations and programs led by individuals who want to help and make change! Help out our people so that we can all be happy.

Written By:

Kelly Ajanel-Tzoc

Grade 9

DC International PCS