I grew up surrounded by flat lands and corn fields in an upper-middle-class white suburb. I am not a Californian, even if I wish I were. Don’t get me wrong – the Midwest has a lot of great things going for it , but moving to California was a bit of a culture shock.
Ten million immigrants call California home – almost a quarter of the nation’s foreign- born population, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. About 27 percent of California’s residents were not born in the United States. Walking down the street here, you hear multiple languages, see signs in Spanish and pass authentic restaurants owned by people from those places.
As many might know, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that was enacted under President Barack Obama was ended by the Justice Department, giving Congress a six-month period to save the program. DACA allowed young people who were brought to this country illegally by their parents to obtain work permits, driver’s licenses and go to school.
Out of the 800,000 people who are DACA recipients, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reported that almost 223,000 of those people live in California.
California is a beautiful melting pot, the essence of what America once claimed to be. For some reason, people are forgetting this country was built from the ground up by people who weren’t born here.
We’ve started to fear and judge what we don’t know or understand and this is incredibly dangerous for those around us. Our different experiences, perspectives, childhoods and cultures shape who we are and should not be thoughtlessly tossed away.
Since moving to California, I have been able to meet and talk to people who have had insanely different experiences than I have had. I’ve conversed with people who were raised in Thailand, Turkey and Colombia. I’ve connected with people who grew up 10 minutes from the Mexico border and someone who is a first-generation American from India.
In light of the controversy happening to people with DACA, we need to remember that diversity is a gift and one that I have valued so much more since moving here. The Bible makes it clear: every tribe, every tongue, every nation. Diversity is a heavenly concept and something we should learn to treasure.
Do not resign yourself to the fear of what you don’t understand, just because it is not familiar. Ask questions, allow yourself to be challenged, remain open-minded and stand by our brothers and sisters who are wondering where they might call home in a few months. Protect the diversity that makes this country so American and so wonderful.