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The Hidden Ones
Being Seen and Not Seen in America
There are millions of them.
They wait and wait and wait . . .
Through a variety of circumstances, they all landed legally and safely on US soil and initiated an immigration process in order to legally reside in the country permanently.
They fill out lots of forms and drive great distances to wait in long lines at regional immigration offices. They dress neatly and do what they are told to do to go through the proper channels.
Some of them fare better than others while others fare much worse in a maze of twists and turns lined with red tape, trap doors, and dead ends.
People wait for several years, even decades, just to get a work permit. Along the way, there are multiple fees. For those who submit inadequate information, there are steep fines.
If they get denied, they get to start all over again.
Many of them eventually somehow scrounge up thousands of more dollars to pay for an attorney. They place a huge bet on a largely unknown outcome with so many odds against them.
Many of them were children when they first woke up in an American sunrise—after being carried off into the night by their parents to an unknown land of golden arches, mermaids with lattes, and disaffected geckos who sell insurance. These children could not know the hardship they would be handed in their futures within an arbitrary and systemically racist immigration process that does not care about their wellbeing.
And then, there are those who entered illegally into the country of strip malls and guns. If they are caught and not lucky enough to be deported, they are held indefinitely against their will in “detention centers” that are tucked away in rural areas all across America.
They are held in prisons.
So what do all these people, legally bound and otherwise, have in common?
They are hidden. Some move about in plain sight, and others are locked away.
Many of them live in cramped, downtrodden places and do all the jobs that no one else wants.
They are your janitors, gas station attendants, dishwashers, grocery baggers, servers, bussers, valet drivers, farmhands, construction workers, and garbage collectors.
They are the cleaning ladies in hotels that men in fancy suits never notice.
They are the night workers who toil away while America sleeps.
They are the people who work many hours for very little money and handle the complaints from people in pretty dresses and shiny cars.
They are everywhere and nowhere all at once.
And they wait and wait and wait . . .
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