November family time & Reflecting on being an immigrant family

Published - 11 November 2021

By: Kevin Parga-Martinez, Ethnic Studies Intern

November has arrived, and with it, has brought us closer to what may seem like a year filled with momentous achievements and instances of tragic events.

Despite such a rollercoaster of emotions that we’re dealing with, the month of November has become synonymous with family gatherings and the obvious all-around large feast that many either regret or enjoy once again the next day.

With such festivities becoming an annual norm for the dominant culture and a majority of families all around the world but specifically in the United States, it’s so important to understand that some families do not have the pleasure or privilege of having such moments family time.

As someone who grew up in a Latinx household, it was nice to see most of my family every year around the table and talk about the memories of the year or future plans we have to look forward to together. Notice the keyword Most…My family was no stranger to the struggles of having certain family members unable to attend the holiday due to the fact that they were detained by law enforcement and/or being held near the border for trying to make their way into the US.

My experience is only one of hundreds if not thousands of similar circumstances that involve families across the nation in which having a family member not able to attend the holiday added stress to an already desperate and broken-up family.

In fact, estimates that some 10.6 million U.S. citizens live with undocumented immigrants.1 More than 22 million people in the U.S. live in mixed-status households, where at least one undocumented person lives with U.S. citizens, green card holders, or other lawful temporary immigrants. All told, more than 1 in 20 people in the U.S. are under constant threat of being separated from family members and loved ones in their home.

About 5.8 million U.S. citizen children live with undocumented household members, with 4.9 million of these children having at least one undocumented parent. Most of these children were born in the United States, are U.S. citizens, and are enrolled in public schools. Some U.S. citizen children have been barred from accessing benefits to which they’re entitled, including access to COVID-19 recovery assistance, because of their parents’ undocumented status.

At the same time, nearly 1.7 million U.S. citizens have a spouse who is undocumented. Roughly a quarter have been married for 20 years or longer, while more than half have been married for 10 years or longer.

            So, when it comes to the upcoming holiday and spending time with all your family around the dinner table, be courteous of others and acknowledge the fact that not everyone will be spending the holiday with certain family members. In a time filled with laughter and love, no one deserves less than the rest of us.