The Curse of Ignorance

After learning of the many injustices undocumented immigrants face on a daily basis, it is hard to not become infuriated. The laws and regulations the government enforces demonize the immigrant, whether undocumented or not, and this affects the way that immigrants are treated in society. Two days ago, I had to listen to a coworker furiously complain about “all the illegal students who are going to college for free.” She was upset because her two children are graduating college with over a hundred thousand dollars worth of college debt with an extremely high interest rate. Instead of being upset about the high costs of a college education, or even the companies who provide college loans with really difficult caveats, my coworker was insistent that her children were missing out on free education because of illegal immigrants. The ignorance she expressed is common in society and creates a hostile environment when advocating for immigrant rights.

Rallies, petitions and protests are commendable but I believe the biggest problem is changing society’s misconceptions of the immigrant. Immigrants are hard working individuals who aim to create a better life for their families. However, the overwhelming belief is that immigrants aim to take advantage of the systems and benefits set in place for citizens. There is also a concern among citizens regarding the growth of the Latino immigrant population in recent years and the increasing popularity of the Spanish language and culture, which is believed to compromise American culture. These concerns spawn hatred and ignorance in society and were the reasons for my coworker’s ridiculous claim.

The problem with these claims is that they have been disputed with research and declared incorrect by sociologists and educators, but the truth fails to reach a mass audience.  The education I shared with my coworker only corrected her ignorance on college admissions but I could not change her hatred of illegal immigrants. What I find is that too often people want to point fingers at another person (or race) and fail to realize that the government and huge corporations are the ones who are responsible for the problems they face. Immigrants, both documented and undocumented, have struggled to assimilate in the U.S. and have made numerous achievements that too often go unrecognized.

According to Dowell Myers and John Pitkin’s (2012) report, assimilation benchmarks – Citizenship, Home ownership, English language proficiency, Job status, Better Income – have been reached by numerous immigrants. Myers and Pitkin reported that “the longer immigrants are here, the more they assimilate, resulting in even greater levels of achievement for their children and sowing the seeds of progress for generations to come” (2010). Second and third generation immigrants often achieve the dreams of their immigrant parents in becoming successful members of society. To have personally achieved three of the five benchmarks, I realize my process of assimilation is still an on-going one. Assimilation is not immediate and it is unfair to judge and criticize immigrants without giving them a chance to attempt assimilation. Ignorance is a damaging curse to the progress of immigrant assimilation and must be tackled.



Myers, Dowell and John Pitkin. 2012. “Assimilation Today”. Center for American Progress, September 1.Retrieved May 5, 2012 (