Where Is My Home? – By Jasmine

By Guest Blogger: JASMINE RAFATI — Iran (read bio)

I arrived in the United States with my whole family including a twin sister, two brothers, and parents. My parents were travelling back and forth between Iran and the United States for a long time.

We were separated for about 10 years. We are a very close family and this was a very difficult experience for each and every one of us. Three years ago we were finally reunited when my youngest brother joined us in the United States. I appreciate my family more than ever.

Not long ago my mom and I we were discussing how this experience of migrating to another country changed us forever.  We became very aware of the hardship of moving to a new country. I feel that my parents made huge sacrifices for their children to be in a great country, reaching for higher education and living a free life.

With all the talks and debates on the subject of stringent immigration law in Arizona, I have been thinking about this topic more and more.  Why do people immigrate to the United States or other countries? I want to discuss this issue because I don’t think that many people who haven’t been introduced to these cultures understand where these people are coming from.   I am not taking any sides in this issue, what I am merely trying to do is to mention some of the reasons people go through the hardship of moving into a new country and to introduce their side of the story.

It is a known fact that most people who migrate to other countries come from countries with economical and/or political upheavals.  In the case of many Iranians for instance, they moved out of the country for the fear of religious and political persecution. Many people (Muslim or Jewish) who were linked with the previous government usually lost all their possessions and had to seek refuge in other countries. Some of them chose to stay in Europe and others decided to come to the United States.

It is an adventure to move to a new country as a young person, but it also a difficult adjustment.  It is even more difficult for older generations who have to leave their homes, friends, families, and work. They have to learn a new language and adjust to a new culture.

Some of these people leave their countries because they fear for their lives. Many left their countries to offer better lives to their children. In the case of Iran, my parents wanted to avoid sending my brothers to the forced military services, and with the volatile situation in Iran there is no guarantee that there will not be future wars to fight after the one between Iran and Iraq.  My parents also wanted all of us to experience learning other languages and living in countries in which we are free to express our opinion.

We are lucky that my parents were in a position to move to another country and live comfortably. Many people who move to the United States have to do things that they would have never done in their own country just to survive.  I have seen some heartbreaking things that sometimes make you in awe of the amount of courage and love the people possess to endure these circumstances.

Many immigrants to other countries are people who have very difficult time surviving in their own countries.  For instance, many Mexicans who migrate to the United States are doing so to be able to support their families in Mexico since the opportunities in some areas of Mexico are scarce.

I do understand that many people in the United States are upset about the situation of people migrating to the United States. With the unfortunate financial and economical conditions in the United States for the past couple of years, these feelings of discontent have accumulated to a higher level.  Surprisingly the number of illegal immigrants has decreased in the recent years.  The chart below indicates this increase.  From another source, I also found that the highest numbers on immigration has been in the following order — Mexicans, Chinese and Filipinos.

Period of entry Number Percent
All years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10,750,000 100
2005-2008 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 910,000 8
2000-2004 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,040,000 28
1995-1999 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,080,000 29
1990-1994 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,670,000 16
1985-1989 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,190,000 11
1980-1984 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 860,000 8

During the turmoil in Afghanistan between 1992 and 1996 and for many years after, many Afghans moved to Iran.  Many of them were working illegally and without papers. They came from borders near Iran. Many people were tired of having all the illegal people in the country.   However, many of the people such as my family tried to support them by giving them jobs.  A young man from Afghanistan worked for us for many years. He sent money on the regular basis to his family in Afghanistan. He eventually gathered enough money to return to Afghanistan to establish a good life.  During the years he was with my father, my father was fined many times for giving a job to someone without papers.  The immigration system in Iran is not as stringent as in the United States in regards to immigration matters. I doubt many people would like to move to live in a more politically, economically, and humanely repressed than their own.  Given these facts, there were many Iranians that were not happy with the situation, having many these Afghans moving to Iran. These were primarily the people who enjoyed the benefits of the cheap labor offered by the Afghan immigrants.

As I mentioned earlier, it is hard for older people who move to a new country to adjust and I feel that it is hard for children who are either born and raised or come at early age to the United States to intertwine the traditions and cultures of both their motherland and new country.

For me the experience was exhilarating for the most part. I love most traditions in the United States. I moved here in my late teens and I learned to love it all here. My most favorite tradition of all is Thanksgiving.  It involves two of my most loved things, food and family.

But what happens when the cultures and traditions clash? I was raised very conservative. Even though my parents were very open minded Muslims, they believed in certain traditional ideas. Therefore, my sister and I have many conflicting life experiences and teachings.

My father would allow us to drink wine with dinner but growing up we weren’t allowed to date boys or even befriend them. We went to a girls’ school and had only girlfriends.  I was brought up to believe that girls should wait for their Prince charming and get married. But what happens when your Prince charming is only dressed as one. What happens when all you were taught shudders because the person you are married to doesn’t believe those sets of ideas and morals?  I believed that you marry once in your lifetime just as my parents did. You work out the problem in the marriage and stick it out, especially if you have children, just as they did.

In my case, I looked at the unsuccessful marriage as a failure in life but I learned to grow up. I understood that in the department of love, dating, and marriage, I still had a lot to learn and loads of maturing to do.  My view of the marriage today is completely different. I still do believe in soul mates, I still hope for a long lasting love but I question forever. To be quite candid, it saddens me sometimes that my naïve image of the past is completely polluted with the reality of things and my experiences. The cultural differences and changes that I have felt are many but as the years pass by and as I am evolving more and more into this new hybrid culture, the lines are getting blurry.

Nowadays I have to think and ponder before responding to a question regarding the difference in how I was raised and how living in the United States changed me.  I would like to add however, that I have been lucky to move to Los Angeles, California where you meet people from all over the world and where you are exposed to different cultures, food, and music in every corner of this beautiful city.

To conclude my thoughts, I would like to thank all those who have been welcoming to my family and me.  It is hard to be in a new place and learn a new way of living.

So I would like to ask you as an immigrant or an American of many generations, do you believe that we have to have more acceptance and tolerance towards people who are trying their best to make their situation work?

35 Responses to “Where Is My Home? – By Jasmine”

  1. Heather says:

    I can only speak for myself… I understand why people come to the U.S., I don’t blame them and I’m glad they do.

    While I do have an issue with illegal immigration, I do not have an issue with legal immigration. I see the two as quite different.

    Only the Native Americans were in America before immigration. It how this country was built, why it is considered a melting pot…etc. I know few if any people who think legal immigration is an issue at all.

    Illegal immigration is a completely different issue. The problem I have with it is that the people who come here illegally are often receiving services from a system that they are not putting anything into and the reason it is a bigger issue now is that the system, in general, is running out of money to provide services to legal citizens who pay taxes. Providing these services (including a free education, emergency medical services and much more) to illegal citizens is rather expensive and California (for example)doesn’t have the money to do it so everyone suffers. The education system is lacking funding, healthcare costs are increasing for everyone that pays for insurance, etc. because the illegal immigrant does not have to pay for the services but someone does.

    If an pregnant illegal immigrants walks around the Beverly Center until they go into labor they get to have their baby for free at Cedars Sinai. If I were pregnant and went into labor there I would be given a very large bill and if I failed to pay it they would seize my assets.

    • Pari says:

      When we get to the issue of illigal immigration, I just want to get the attention of people who are against illigal immigration to some points( I am talking generally):
      I am an immigrant and I myslef had to wait long to have had my Greencard but I do agree that we should enforce the laws and make it impossible for new people to pass the borders, but about the ones who are already here, I think we should think realistically.
      These people are already here, it is not duable to deport them from the States or make them leave the States( I don’t argue whether it is fair or not). I think instead od arguing over something impossible, let’s think how we can help ourselves and these people who are already part of our society whether we like it or not. Let’s help their children to have education, to let them be integrated better in this country.

      They will live here anyways so let’s help ourselves to have a better and safer society with less crimes than now. If we protect our borders from new illigal immigrants and at the same time, help the ones who are already here to be able to have papers and to pay tax, and help their children to have education, I beleive we are going in a correct direction. This way, instead of wasting our energy and tax, we can have an outcome which leads us to a better, safer and economically stronger country.

      • brenda says:

        well said Pari. i agree with you 100% and i wish more people think like you. please take your comments to sacramento and washington.

    • Mitchell B. says:

      Well said Pari. I can’t stand the illegals but I believe we just deal with thosethat are here and leave them be but enforce the immigration law and secure all the borders.

      • RedHawk says:

        @Heather, excellent idea. I read your comments onthis blog and see that you are open to a different viewpoint and seem fair. You SHOULD run for office. I would vote for you.

    • Jasmine says:

      My dear Heather,

      thanks for your input. I do believe that illegal immigration is a problem in this country.
      Do you have any suggestions for the problem? i would love to hear them.

      • Heather says:

        I wish I knew the solution. I think it is very complicated. Some of my friends and I have discussed the idea of giving everyone that is in the U.S., who has not committed a serious/violent crime, some sort of status. Maybe not citizenship, but the ability to stay here without worry of deportation and have them register with that status and start paying taxes. This would likely mean they would have to be paid at least minimum wage which I think is completely appropriate. We could then make it more difficult for people to get in without proper documentation in the future.

        From what I hear it might be necessary to look at the whole process of becoming a citizen and the criteria used and revamp that system as well.

        If I felt I had a real solution I would run for office and if I heard a politician with a good solution I might vote for them (depending of course on their other views).

  2. Heather says:

    I believe most people not only accept but appreciate immigrants if for no other reason than that our ancestors were immigrants when they came here. I appreciate immigrants and have many friends who have come here from other countries including Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Canada… the list goes on and on.

    I have an issue with ILLEGAL immigration. This country does not have open borders and not many countries do. Our economy is a disaster and I know of many educated, law abiding, tax paying people who were denied Visa’s and/or spent years trying to get one and would be elated to have citizenship become a possibility while millions of others remain here illegally and bleed an already poorly funded system.

    If an illegal immigrant needs emergency medical care they receive it. If their children attempt to go to school and I believe the vast majority do, they are given a free education and all of this and more… we as taxpayers pay for it.

    I’m not suggesting we should let anyone die. I’m suggesting we should not allow people who are not paying into the system to continue to stay here in this country receiving benefits we can’t afford to offer to all of our tax paying legal citizens. We cease the assets including homes, of our citizens due to their inability to pay. Illegals walk out the door and collect other benefits from other organizations. No penalty for non-payment. No way to collect. This makes no sense to me.

    It is not a simple situation and the solution is incredibly complicated and mostly unknown. What is clear to me is that what is going on now is not working. I don’t think immigration is a problem. I think illegal immigration is a problem.

    • chain reaction says:

      It takes a really long time to get your papers to come to the US legally. Did yo know that? You can die waiting. The US discriminates against people of color giving less quotas to people from these countries to come here legally and giving the large quotas to those of the anglo saxon persuasion. You sit in your lofty tower passing judgment on people who mostly want a better life but I doubt you would say the same if the situation was reversed. You Americans are always blaming people for your problems and usually it’s the illegal Mexicans that get your wrath. Shame on you. Have some empathy if sympathy is not in your nature.

      • Heather says:

        I do know that it is hard to get a green card. I know a lot of people who are here from other countries legally and maybe I should have mentioned I know people who are here from Mexico legally as well. I just happened to mention the ethnicity of a few people I saw over this past weekend.

        Chain Reaction – To clarify… after rereading what I wrote I want to rephrase because while the cost of healthcare and education are a reason I have an issue with people being here illegally, I do not believe the illegal immigrants are the cause of ALL of the problems. I’m sorry if it read that way.

        My feelings about this issue apply to all illegal immigrants equally, regardless of race or religion. Fortunately or unfortunately the U.S. borders are not open. You must apply for a green card, visa or citizenship. Sadly, I would be surprised if there weren’t racism involved in the process. This country has come a long way but I’m certainly not suggesting that racism in government has ceased to exist and and I do not condone it. If you want to try to do something constructive about that I’m completely supportive.

        I do understand why people would want to come to this country and I agree with Mitchell in that I believe those that are here from Mexico should be given citizenship even though it is completely unfair to immigrants from other countries, simply because it is unrealistic to do anything else. My idea…maybe everyone who is here from another country who doesn’t have a criminal record with violent offenses gets citizenship or some kind of legal status at a given point and then we lock down the borders. I wrote two responses thinking one did not go through… the other mentioned how complicated I think the issue is.

        You can’t just send people back to a place some people don’t remember and a place where others were treated horribly. Some non-citizens deserve political asylum!

        I don’t care where an illegal immigrant is coming from. My issue is that we don’t have the money to provide the services to people who do not pay in to the system… TAX THEM… that is what I’m saying. You want a service, you pay into the system. I don’t mean that you pay for the service in full. That would not be possible for a lot of citizens, but you pay into the system.

        If I moved to another country or even visited, I don’t believe I would receive the services provided here for free. If I’m wrong, please let me know where I could go and get a free education and sometimes (though not always) excellent medical care. I’m truly curious.

      • Jasmine says:

        Dear Reader,

        My family was separated over 10 years because of immigration lengthy process. I do understand where you are coming from. I think that the system needs improvement to say the least.
        I would like to hear your opinion on the subject of illegal immigration.
        thanks for your comment

  3. Gwendoline says:

    If most Americans migrated to other countries and were treated the way some Americans treat foreigners they would not like it at all.

    • Jasmine says:

      Dear Gwendoline,

      I don’t believe that we should treat the immigrants badly. However, I think there is a big problem with the way the situation is handled regarding illegal immigration in this country.
      What are your thoughts on that?

    • Gwendoline says:

      Jasmine, Absolutely the way the illegal immigration is handled in this country is wrong. Some Americans are looking at illegal immigrants like they are the scourge of the earth. Light bulb moment America – some of your parents and grand parents and great grand parents going way back to those members of your families who were not indigenous to this soil were immigrants – some of them illegal. We have no right to tell anyone who should or should not come in to this country, only the native Americans have the authentic that. Sorry for the rant. I also believe that the issue of illegal immigration is focused only on a specific group and that is racism at it’s core. Arizona is setting a bad precedent.

  4. PC says:

    I came here at 6 from Spain and yes it’s an adventure to move to a new country as a young person. You have your whole life ahead of you and in a country like America, the greatest country in the world all your dreams can come true. I did not have to learn a new language because I already knew some English but I was excited to improve my English and learn a new culture. I became a doctor and have a great life. I love living here and consider myself American. I accept everyone because we are all immigrants if you look at it. Not one group belongs here more than the other. I do not support illegal immigration but I understand why others want to come to this country for a better life or because of persecution and political strife as you describe in your country. I like your blog, thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Jasmine says:

      Thanks for your wonderful comment. I do think of U.S. as my home and I love living here as well.
      I also agree that this is a land of opportunity and if you work hard you can achieve anything you want to.

  5. blimp says:

    Republicans will take care of this illegal immigration problem for sure.

  6. Heather says:

    IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION – Sorry I did not proof my statements well before submitting.

    I meant to say I agree with Pari.

    I DO NOT agree with Mitchell in the statement “I can’t stand the illegals.”

    I’m sure there are individuals I know and love/like a lot who are here illegally.

    Maybe the process to come here legally needs to be changed… I don’t know what it is exactly because I have not gone through it, but all of my friends have explained it to be a very difficult thing.

    And by saying “locking down the boarders” I mean do a better job of keeping illegal immigrants from getting in. I don’t mean shut the country down to immigrants.

    Part of what makes this country so great and I think L.A. pretty fabulous as well is the fact that there are so many people here from so many countries and cultures. It really is a melting pot and I love that.

    • Force of Nature says:

      @Heather, Thanx for clarifying, for taking the time to do so. It makes a difference in my eyes and tell me that you’re okay.

  7. Doowop25 says:

    Where is your home? Your roots are in Iran. Your home is the U.S.A. I assume you are legally here so you are every bit American with all the rights as those born here. So, the answer to your question is your home is the good old U.S.A. God bless America.

    • Jade says:

      I agree. Family is precious so you have a valuable treasure in your home. Family and friends. There’s another very good article on friendship you should check out on this blog.

  8. Lydia says:

    congratulations on your close family. i am glad you are all togetther now and finding a way to bridge your culture of iran and america.

  9. MattL says:

    As you note illegal immigration is down. And under the Obama administration deportations are up. But still to this day if you eat fruits or vegetables you can almost bet it was picked by an illegal immigrant. So the issue really resides with employers who continue to employ them.
    In the past illegals used to come to America seasonally, work for a while and then go home. But, ironically, because of tougher border security they were unable to go back home for fear they would never get back in. So now they stay longer and that causes problems.
    I think one solution is a work visa of sorts that allows illegals to come and go with an identity card that shows they are a seasonal worker. In short, let’s find a way to make it beneficial for everyone involved. After all they DO add dollars into our economy and they DO jobs many Americans will not do.

    • Leo the Lion says:

      MattL I believe there is already a system in place for exactly what you propose. Some immigrants have a visa for seasonal work that allows them to come to work here, and go back to Mexico at the end of the day or week. They work, pay taxes and are able to support their families back home. I don’t know how it works for other immigrants besides Mexicans. I guess they just don’t bother checking the Europeans to see if they’re legal or not. LOL!

    • Veronica says:

      Dearest Matt,
      Thanks for your comment. I agree with you completely. We should find a solution that is beneficial to everyone.

  10. vealink says:

    My parents and I migrated to this country from a small island in the Caribbean when I was three. Just like most immigrants, my parents wanted to relocate to a country with more opportunities for them and for their children. I thank my parents that they made the decision to relocate to the US, more importantly Los Angeles.

    • champion2010 says:

      Many Caribbean people migrate to US, but they are not hassled like the Mexicans. If I’m not mistaken, the two sisters that write on this blog are from the Caribbean. I would like to hear about their views on this topic. Anyways Vealink, did your parents come here legally And what island are you from?

    • Jasmine says:

      Hello Vealink,

      thanks for your comment. I am also thankful that my partents sent us outside Iran to study and I am very happy to have had the opportunity to continue my studies here in California.

      and i do too love Los angeles.

  11. SeaUrchin says:

    In answer to your last question Jasmine, we really have to have more acceptance and tolerance towards people who are trying their best to make their situation work. Most people do not immigrate to cause trouble to others, most are looking for success in life , a hope and a dream for themselves and their family, the same things Americans look for. We are all more alike than we are different. If we dare to remember that, things will be better.

    • Jasmine says:

      Dear reader,

      Thanks so much for your input. I do agree that most people move to another country looking for better opportunities and success in life.
      Best luck to each and everyone in achieving their dreams

  12. R. Thomas says:

    Jasmine, welcome to America and may you achieve the American Dream!

  13. kingtut says:

    I believe if you move to another country you should learn the language and adjust to the culture or stay in your own country if all you do is criticize.

    • Jasmine says:

      Dear Kingtut,

      I think you didnt read the article properly. I did learn the language and the culutre. i am pursuing higher education at this time and love living here.
      I merely tried to explain the point of view of people who immigrate to other countries and the problems they face.

    • Magoo25 says:

      Idiot! Jasmine speaks and writes English very well as you can see.

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