On Being a Child of Immigrants

By Aleisha Flores, FINDink Contributor

I don’t think a lot of people in this country see the intense amount of pressure bubbling under the surface for the children of immigrants. There’s so much responsibility that everyone from our parents and families, the government, and even our friends that gets thrown on our shoulders. There are so many expectations for 1.5 generation immigrants and second-generation immigrants.

In case you’re not sure what those terms mean, fields such as anthropology and sociology define a 1.5 generation immigrant as someone who came to the United States before or during their early teens, and a second generation immigrant as the child of first-generation immigrants. For a lot of Filipinos, those words resonate with us – who we are, where we came from, how we live our lives.

Personally, I am a second-gen immigrant. My parents immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines back in the late 1980s and early 1990s for work, and I was born here years later. I’ve seen the hard work my parents have put in to give my sister and I a better standard of living that they had in the homeland, and to this day they still work to help put us through school.

This is a common experience for any immigrant group in the U.S., not just Filipinos, and for those people, the struggle isn’t always taken seriously. Our own government doesn’t even think immigrants contribute enough to society to be given basic opportunities and access to education and work, as evidenced by the Trump administration’s recent decision to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act).

But the truth of the matter is that immigrants face a whole host of burdens, especially their children. No matter what our parents do and have done in their time in the States, what we do inevitable affects their legacy even if we don’t want them to be connected. It’s up to us to make their sacrifice worth it, to make traveling thousands of miles away from their home, leaving their families worth all of that loss. Whatever you end up doing reflects on your parents as well even if we don’t want it to.

With all that being said, despite immigrants being such a large demographic of the United States – heck, this country was founded on the virtue of immigration – few people are ever going to understand what it’s like. And as the generations get further and further away from the first ancestor to step foot on American soil, the more likely they’ll be to take all that hard labor for granted, especially as their privilege might grow.

And while we might not be able stop that unavoidable point where we stop thinking about how much harder things used to be, we as Filipinos, but above all the children of immigrants, must always remember our roots and where we came from.

Disclaimer: The views of the author do not necessarily represent the views of FIND, Inc.