Allow me to introduce you to Savina, a friend of mine. She came to the United States from Bulgaria right before she started attending classes at an elite, private American liberal arts college. Aside from being fluent in Bulgarian, she speaks English better than most of my friends. She has a real passion for poetry and English literature in general. As a student, she spent a term in Argentina where she perfected her Spanish as well. She’s comfortable in a few different programming languages (which she picked up mostly for fun). In college, she ran an online women’s culture magazine that achieved reasonable success. After college, she moved to San Francisco and started working for an upcoming technology start-up business. She spent weekends negotiating a long-distance relationship with her longtime college boyfriend, eventually sharing an apartment with him in the city. She loves to go out to concerts, drink wine, and spend time with her incredibly close-knit group of friends.
She has an infectious laugh. She’s one of the smartest people I know. She happens to also be incredibly beautiful. Without a doubt, she is one of those people who is going to provide a disproportionate level of good to America. In short, she is an enormous contributor to cultures both big and small, she is probably going to generate a lot of money, and she is just straight up awesome.
And, next week, the US Department of Immigration is kicking her back to Bulgaria.
For some largely unknown reason, Savina’s status as a fully employed legal immigrant wasn’t moving enough to preserve her American-ness. Neither was her history of American education nor American relationships. Simply put, there is and was nothing she could do to stay in the country to which she has given so much already.
Sometimes, I feel like the USA is like a popular bar that’s “at capacity”. There’s a lot of people waiting in line, looking through the window, and seeing that it’s really not at capacity. In fact, there looks to be plenty of room. However, the bouncer at the door still says no. Now, if we look even closer into the bar, we see lots of people who got to the bar early just loitering, drinking slowly, not talking to anyone or contributing to the success of the evening. But, they’re still in, and everyone outside is still out. If the bar was smart, they’d start to let some people in and usher these non-contributors out the door (or at least make them buy some more drinks).
My analogy started to fall apart there for a moment.
I want to trade some of the less valuable Americans for people like Savina. I can think of (easily) a hundred people I would trade for Savina. It’d be a great deal for America: we’d improve our human assets, we’d trim some of the fat (in this case, probably literal), and in the long run we’d generate more money, more business, more good-looking half-Bulgarian children.
For all the people out there who refuse to acknowledge that immigrants might actually be better at stuff than you are, I’d like to direct you to Mr. Jack White for just a brief moment: “White Americans, what, nothin’ better to do? Why don’t you kick yourself out? You’re an immigrant too”. Guess what– I’m a mix of Polish/German and English immigrants. Tesla was Croatian. Madison Albright was born in Prague. Oh yeah, there was that Einstein guy. He was either born in Jersey City or Ulm, Kingdom of Wurttemberg. I seriously cannot remember which. Can you imagine if we had been this totally backward back when it really, really mattered?
No, suddenly we’ve become so fat and lazy and useless that we look down on people who actually DO things (namely, immigrants). “Those Mexican immigrants stole that gardening job that I actually didn’t have and wasn’t ever going to do, and actually it’s kinda nice to have less expensive labor, I mean, wait, kick’em outta here, America!!” Any of you Irish/Italian/German/Polish/anywhere else people want to think back to when YOU were the immigrants? Hint: It wasn’t that long ago.
The good news (?!?!) is that this cases like Savina’s are apparently happening so often that people are starting to take notice. Today, I was sent an article with some amazing information, like the fact that 40% of MIT Graduate Students are not US Citizens or Permanent Residents. After a little bit of searching, I discovered that the Senate will consider a bill to prevent highly skilled immigrants from being deported so easily. It looks like the vague outline of change peering over the far end of the horizon. Sadly, it will come too late for my friend.
I’m going to miss Savina a lot. She is planning on finding work in London after her deportation. I am fully confident that she will continue to be extremely successful. Our loss.
Lots of love,