Election Issues

The Immigrant's Fate is Everyone's

By Viet Thanh Nguyen | June 30, 2016 | Source: Time | Illustration by Michael Korfhage for TIME

"I am an immigrant. I am also a human being, an American, a Vietnamese, an Asian and a refugee. I do not have to choose among these identities, despite those who would insist that I do. On one end of the spectrum, well-meaning people who invoke colorblindness–the only affliction Americans wish on themselves–argue that we are all just human. On the other end of the spectrum, racists believe that a nation should be defined by only one color. To have no color or to have only one color! When given just two choices, know that it’s a trick. Even my 3-year-old son understands this. When I ask him whether he will grow up to be Batman or a fireman, he says, “Batman and a fireman!” And why not?

Childhood is marked by curiosity, imagination’s endless play and a disregard for all boundaries. As we age, we learn to respect some borders. But we also stiffen, becoming arthritic in both body and mind. What’s the proper balance between believing that we should explore everywhere, take in everything, and the sensible idea that perils exist, that some strangers really mean us harm?

This is a question without one answer, but it is a question we must keep asking in search of the answer that is right for us at any given moment. To the United States’ credit, Americans have often asked this question. To the country’s discredit, the answers have sometimes involved closing the borders, excluding those of certain races or nations, and deporting people with a reasonable claim to live here." -- Viet Thanh Nguyen, Time 

Read the full story HERE.

Nguyen is a writer and professor. His novel The Sympathizer won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. This appears in the July 11, 2016 issue of TIME.