by Andrew Piotrowski
Over the past few months of volunteer service at the East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center (ECIRMAC) in Urbana, Illinois, I cannot help but take notice of the challenges, both large and small, that affect the immigrant community of Champaign County concerning certain issues that those with rights of US citizenship never even have to consider. Issues such as language barriers, lack of an accredited education or legal documentation for residence, and a multitude of restrictive laws and ordinances cause more problems than I believe most are aware of.
As a native-born U.S. citizen, I do not have to worry about my legal standing during my everyday life, as my rights of citizenship will not be in danger of being revoked. I can apply for any job that my current education level allows me, and I know that even if I commit a legal violation, I am in no danger of losing my right to reside in this country. However, the challenges which immigrants must meet head-on go much further than just fear of being caught or finding a job. The experiences which I have seen and heard about at the Center reveal a lot more information about the lives of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, than what the mainstream media shows.
As I continue this blog over the next several weeks, I will explore various aspects of immigrant life in Champaign County that may not be over issues normally discussed in today’s political, social, and ethical debates. By doing so, I hope to uncover specific problems which I believe must be addressed in order to enhance the lives of everyone who calls the United States their home, regardless of their standing as a citizen.