A Personal Immigrant Bashing Story

By: Daniel Nardini

My wife has a close cousin who lives in Washington state. She and her husband came to the United States five months ago on a student visa. My wife’s cousin’s husband was sent by his company in South Korea to learn some important technical skills in this country. Because it has proven difficult to obtain a business visa, my wife’s cousin’s family were given student (and visas for the spouse and children of a student’s) visas because that was what the company could obtain.

Well, things went fine for them in America for the first five months. However, they did not like the apartment they were renting and wanted to rent another apartment in the same building. The landlord told them that they needed a Social Security number. My wife’s cousin explained they were students and did not therefore have a Social Security number. Because of this the landlord made them fill out special and much more lengthy paperwork for trying to obtain an apartment. I found this to be particularly nasty. These people are legally in this country, and they had paid the rent and all utilities on time. Yet they were being treated like undocumented.

But in my view even undocumented deserve better treatment than this. And this in a state where there are no state laws that require landlords to check on the status of their tenants. It tells me that anti-immigrant feeling in this country is reaching a fever pitch. There are millions of people in this country who are legally here even though they do not have a Social Security number. These people include students, business people, skilled technicians, exchange students and workers, people legally visiting their families, and foreign dignitaries without diplomatic immunity. To treat these people like undocumented—who are treated like dirt—speaks volumes about how badly wrong things are going here.

These people come here for various reasons, but they are all legally here. These people do not have Social Security numbers like legal permanent residents or U.S. citizens, but they make an important contribution to this country nonetheless. More important than that, these people take back with them job skills and experiences that will be needed in their countries of origin. They also take back either good memories of this country…….or bad ones. It depends on how we treat these people. A lot of how the rest of the world views us is how people from their countries of origin who have visited the United States are treated.

If their treatment is bad then this will impact Americans in other countries. Many Americans do not seem to realize this fact. This in turn can make those who come here legally for whatever reason rather bitter. The incident with my wife’s cousin is indicative of this immigrant bashing. My wife is doing what she can to help her cousin. But there is little my wife can do from 2,000 miles away. In the long run I only hope that my wife’s cousin’s life in America will be a good one.

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