Immigration Debate with a Transracial/Transnational Adoptee’s Analysis

In this ongoing controversy over immigration it’s sometimes hard to find elected officials pro-citizenship for illegal immigrants. It’s a complex issue and I will analyze it from a transracial adoptee’s perspective of course.

Immigration reform today means border control-Policing the border through legal channels such as ICE, and through illegal channels such as the Minutemen on the Mexican-American border.

While this immigration debate rages on, quietly, in the background are transracial, international adoptees being brought into this country through legal as well as illegal channels without any debate over our immigrant status or legitimacy. We are naturalized citizens of this country. We came to this country as part of a transracial family where our parents are white. This privilege should be clear enough to most. But think of it this way. We as adoptees are part of globalized capitalism. While we may not necessarily want to see the political ramifications behind having dollar signs attached to our backs, this is still a political statement-and adoption policy has made it very easy for us to come to this country into the arms of white parents. What I’m trying to ask is, what is the difference between us as immigrants coming from outside the US that allows us easier access to naturalization than immigrant families of color? Why is it that we are so easily accepted politically into this country? There is certainly no complaint from either side of the aisle that we are taking away jobs…We are adopted into white privilege. While we don’t necessarily benefit from it racially, we benefit in the form of class privilege-the fact remains that as transracial international adoptees we are not even considered immigrants. I think it’s really important to make this distinction. While many would deny any notion of “ownership” I think we need to ask ourselves the hard questions about how the dollar sign DOES affect our identity as easily accepted citizens in the US.

I’ve spoke with some transnational, transracial adoptees who refuse to consider this logic when assessing the immigration debate today. These are questions that need to be asked, and need to be used to address the power structure in this country that allows babies of color who are adopted into white families, not only a full array of class privileges and resources, but more importantly, how immigrant families of color enter this country wanting a better life for themselves and their family (just as our adopted parents are looking to provide us) and are unable to get the jobs, access to social services/resources, insurance, healthcare and much much more which we as adult adoptees now take for granted. While we may have it easy as adoptees who speak perfect English, and who have class privileges and resources to overcome hardships that we may face in our futures, we must take a firm stance on immigration. This country was built on Native Indian lands, and was used to push the boundaries to steal territory from Mexico such as Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of California. By virtue of these founding principles, ironically white Americans are immigrants, and Native Indians and Latinos (more relevantly, Mexicans) are the native peoples. Adoptees need to see this and understand that we play an important role not only as privileged Asian Americans but also as privileged immigrants.


10 Comments on “Immigration Debate with a Transracial/Transnational Adoptee’s Analysis

  1. Bravo, Nate. This is a fantastic blog and what a great point you’ve brought up that I had never even thought about before with the transracial/transnational adoptee issue.
    It’s really interesting to me that basically, by adopting children from other countries who are more or less at risk, we are granting them a form of asylum. And yet, for women and children who have been battered and abused, the laws for granting them legal status as a form of asylum are all over the board and no one can seem to agree on what to do, even with all the reforms and bills being looked at and passed by the House and Senate. There is such a great deal of silence amongst that population out of complete fear of deportation or legal repercussions.
    That dollar sign is such a double-edged sword… we want to hate it and find ways of capturing what’s important in life again and yet it’s attached to everything and is the only way we know to get things done “legally and fairly.” ::Sigh::

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  3. I think it’s really interesting how immigration can be defined by ownership. If you’re a TRA, then your citizenship is really in the benefit of those who are your adoptive parents. Afterall, you cannot be adopted if immigration policies restrict the immigration of infants and young children. In this case, we find a contradiction with our immigration policy where “immigration” can be twisted and applied in different ways depending on your identity. If you are going to be someone of privilege’s child, then it is fine. But if you are seeking “better” opportunities because your country is impoverished due to Western imperialism, colonization and empire-building, then it’s in the U.S.’s best interest to keep you there.

  4. Shoutout and props, Nate!

    I think as TRAs we shouldn’t let all that “chosen” crap go to our heads. We are no better though maybe a little “luckier” than immigrants who come by other means (and I use the word “luckier” VERY loosely, if you know what I mean).
    Besides, as shown by recent cases where adoptees have been threatened with deportation, we are not entirely “safe.”

  5. Okay, more…

    I didn’t even think of myself as an immigrant until I was an adult. Go figure. I wonder why.

    Doesn’t it strike you as odd that while we cruised in on our parents white privilege, any birth family we find don’t get the same benefits? Hmmm…

  6. Sume,

    You’re right. But although there have been cases on deporting adoptees, I worry about the latest one surrounding Samuel Jonathon Schultz. If it goes to the supreme court and they rule to allow him to stay in the U.S. what sort of message does that send out to the immigrant communities about who is more valued? And I think you’re absolutely right, whiteness does play a part on this, although we don’t completely subscribe to white privilege it informs our identities as transracial adoptees. Not to mention it also becomes evidence of our legitimacy as “American Citizens.” In this case, since he was adopted by a white family the case is much more out there in the news. He becomes not necessarily a person of color, or an adoptee, but a member of an “All American Family” which in turn is providing him with a privileged immigrant status-which might lead to the courts over-turning his deportation.

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  9. The age-old pesky U.S.-Mexico border problem has taxed the resources of both countries, led to long lists of injustices, and appears to be heading only for worse troubles in the future. Guess what? The border problem can never be solved. Why? Because the border IS the problem! It’s time for a paradigm change.

    Never fear, a satisfying, comprehensive solution is within reach: the Megamerge Dissolution Solution. Simply dissolve the border along with the failed Mexican government, and megamerge the two countries under U.S. law, with mass free 2-way migration eventually equalizing the development and opportunities permanently, with justice and without racism, and without threatening U.S. sovereignty or basic principles.

    Click the url and read about the new paradigm for U.S.-Mexico relations.

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