When I first read about President Donald Trump’s plan to end birthright citizenship by executive order, the potential consequences for my younger siblings and myself flooded my thoughts. This action would eliminate the right to citizenship for U.S.-born children of noncitizens and would eventually affect millions of children just like my siblings.
My sister and brother are two examples of the vibrant first-generation U.S. citizen community across the country. Trump’s threatened action would be devastating to this group, and his rhetoric is already dangerous.
In 2001, my mother took me and my older sister away from Guanajuato, Mexico, in search of a better life in the United States. Unfortunately, because we are undocumented, my family struggled to find public resources in our new country. In school, I was unable to apply for programs or scholarships; I was also unable to obtain a state ID because of my status. When I was diagnosed with optic neuritis, an inflammation of the optic nerve, I had to seek medical help. I remembered the worry in my mother’s eyes because I did not qualify for any form of health care. How were we supposed to pay for the medical costs? Fortunately, because I was a minor, I qualified for emergency Medicaid, which allowed my family to pay only a portion of the costs.
Eventually, when I obtained Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status, I felt the relief of knowing I was no longer at risk of being deported. However, since DACA was repealed by the Trump administration on Sept. 5, 2017, my status in the United States has been uncertain. I do not want my siblings to experience the same uncertainty and fear.
When my younger sister was diagnosed with Shprintzen-Goldberg syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that affects her bones, heart and brain, she was able to seek medical help. Shprintzen-Goldberg syndrome affects fewer than 50 people worldwide, so my sister required immediate medical help. She was able to get X-rays, heart ultrasounds and medicine. Fortunately, my sister qualified for Medicaid, a health care program for low-income U.S. citizens.
Also because of their current citizenship status, my siblings can go to the doctor without severe financial worry. They can travel without fear of getting deported. They can apply to scholarships and programs that I did not have access to.
Trump’s executive order may not affect those who have already attained birthright citizenship like my brother and sister. But the president’s extreme actions could strip opportunities from millions of children just like my siblings. Even my siblings could still be at risk as Trump continues to attack the immigrant community.
I do not want my siblings to face the same unnecessary and unfair obstacles I did. I do not want my sister to worry about her health. I ask myself about the effect it could have on my sister and brother. My sister aspires to be a cosmetologist and my brother seeks to be an engineer, but the validity of these dreams and aspirations is now uncertain because of Trump’s plan to end birthright citizenship.
Any decision to end birthright citizenship would be inhumane and depraved.
My mother immigrated to the United States because of the economic instability in Mexico. She sought a better life for her children; many others do the same. Families come to the United States to chase the American dream, a reality lost on Trump. He instead believes immigrants are taking advantage of opportunities. In fact, they are contributing immensely to society. He does not see the value of my sister’s and brother’s dreams.
The United States was built by immigrants like my siblings and me. Regardless of my parents’ immigration status, my sister and brother have the right to be U.S. citizens, because they were born here and because this country is their home.
Getting involved with Hoyas for Immigrant Rights, a club on campus committed to immigrant advocacy and activism, has helped me find a community that supports me. The Georgetown Scholarship Program and the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access have also supported me throughout my journey at Georgetown.
We must continue to educate other students on the misconceptions of immigrants and humanize the topic of immigration. Having dialogues and reaching out to clubs are a few of the ways to help advocate for immigrant communities. We must continue advocating and fighting for our families, our community and the rights of immigrants.
Anahi Figueroa-Flores is a sophomore in the College.