By Maayan Rubin, NFTY Central West
Every day, there are people around the world who aren’t safe and need help getting out of their country to safety. There are people who live where they live because of violence, gangs, and drugs. There are people who want to find a better life for themselves. Crime, economic problems, and corruption present huge obstacles in countries like Mexico. Families feel that they need to leave, to protect themselves and their children.
I personally relate to this issue because some of my closest friends are undocumented immigrants. I remember the day President Trump was elected, all I saw in my friends’ eyes was fear. They feared what would happen to them. They feared what would happen to their brothers and sisters who were born here, while they and their parents were not. They feared where they would go, since they don’t have a home anywhere else. They feared the unknown and uncertainty. I didn’t know how to help, but it’s all I wanted to do. My weekend at NFTY Convention helped me realize some ways I could help.
At Convention, I choose to be in the Immigration cohort. I got to learn about the process people go through to get refugee status, and how people obtain citizenship. In most cases, it can take 10 years to attain refugee status, and then another year or two to gain citizenship. At the point when they are notified, applicants only have 120 days to enter the United States or they must start the process of gaining citizenship again. When President Trump introduced the immigration ban, many refugees were worried because they didn’t know if their time was going to expire before they would be allowed enter the United States.
Diving deeper in my learning about immigration gave me even more of a reason to take action. I was upset that our country was introducing these laws. I didn’t want this reality. I wanted the reality where undocumented immigrants and refugees are accepted. It made me mad that so many would be excluded from gaining safety and a better life because of negative stereotypes about people from certain countries.
I decided I wanted to find a way for my school and Temple youth group to create a program that helps bond undocumented immigrants and refugees together with our community. Programming could include cultural activities – celebrating holidays and rituals, playing sports, going bowling, or sharing meals. These are just a few of my ideas. I plan to bring this into action and make my community a safer and more supportive place.