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Books

The Distance Between Us: The Impact Of Immigration On People

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

Reyna Grande’s book, The Distance Between Us, is a memoir on how immigration changed her connection between her parents and siblings for better or worse. As Reyna’s parents were immigrants themselves, they came in and out of her life, making Reyna question if her parents truly cared about her. She believed that the only people who cared for her were her siblings: Carlos and Mago. When Reyna’s father came to Mexico to bring only Mago and Carlos to the United States of America, Mago said that she would not go with him without Reyna because “Mago’s maternal instincts won over her need to save herself”. The siblings’ loyalty to each other pulled through, even if it went against their own personal interests, which reinforce the siblings’ connections. There were also times Reyna connected with her heritage. During the second chapter, Mago told Reyna that “her umbilical cord was buried there in Mexico. That way…she won’t ever forget where she came from.” However, those connections fell apart after she moved to the U.S.A. when she reached the brink of adulthood. When she visited Mexico, she felt very distant with her once-close friends and relatives. Reyna remarks, “Even though my umbilical cord was buried in Iguala, I was no longer considered Mexican enough… I was no longer one of them.” Her cultural connection was lost during the many years living in the U.S.A. Her sibling loyalty did not last forever either. When Reyna planned to leave Papi’s house, Reyna was in disbelief with “…what Mila had said. It couldn’t be true. How could Mago have left when she knew he was hitting me? No, no. There has to be a mistake.” This deterioration had led Reyna down a dark spiral. Because of it, she stopped her education. She recovered from her sister’s abandonment to finish her college degree, but at the cost of a disconnected family. Grande believed that the sacrifice required for immigration outweighed the benefits for her family, but still made her the person she is today. Thus, considering Grande’s experiences, I agree with Grande’s argument about the consequences of immigration outweighing the benefits because immigration can have negative long-term effects on people’s close relationships and can cause trauma that lasts a lifetime.

Immigration can have long term effects on people’s relationship stability. In another piece similar to Grande’s, Nazario tells the story of a boy named Luis Enrique Motino Pineda who was abandoned at a young age as his mother went to the U.S.A to support him. During his childhood, Pineda “was passed from relative to relative, left wondering, didn’t his mother love him enough to be with him?” This had a negative effect on his relationship with his mother. He ended up searching for his mother, which in turn meant leaving his girlfriend. This continuous negative cycle of abandonment, where a person would search for someone they had lost years ago, causes relationships between family and friends to be lost. Developing relationships between people cannot flourish because of the distance that is made through immigration. Just like Grande’s experience, Nazario highlights how separation has changed a person’s perspective in life.

Immigration can induce trauma that lasts for a lifetime. There are many research articles that focus on the negative effects of separation of families for an extended period of time. One example of this is the children confined in American child detention centers. These children had to deal with the sudden unexpected change of having their parents separated from them. This sudden change in their lives led most of these children to have mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and social isolationism. The American Psychological Associate’s article, Undocumented Americans, found that “For young children whose undocumented parents have been detained or even deported…they often experience in the short term,… anger, anxiety and depression.” These mental issues stack on the problems of children vulnerable to joining gangs or experiencing teenage pregnancy because they try to fill in the void that their parents left. This trauma goes in effect for a long time as these kids have difficulty maintaining long term relationships due to their mental instability from abandonment. Also, according to the American Psychological Association, they added that “Over time, these can lead to more severe issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, poor identity formation, difficulty forming relationships…” This, in turn, would continue the cycle of suffering for those children and their descendants after them. For Grande’s case, she was able to escape her negative prospects but there are many others who could not escape the mental void.

Ultimately, immigration may have benefits for a lucky few, but for most immigrants, the negative consequences overshadow the advantages of moving to another country. The consequences of family disconnection and the byproduct of trauma are not worth the travel in the grand scheme to better themselves economically. Like Grande and many other immigrant stories: at what cost is it to get a good education or a good job if there is no one to come back to after the arduous journey? 

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