Human of BU: Deborah Breen

Deborah Breen, senior lecturer in the writing program talks about her move to the United States and how she feels about the President’s immigration policy.

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“We moved in August 1996 from Melbourne to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. This was the first time we had lived overseas as a family. To move somewhere without ever having visited was kind of a big step.

Culture shock can be very subtle or it can be much more obvious. It’s just not being able to take things for granted. We miss that sense of knowing kind of what is going on. I think that particularly, plays out with your children, in the sense of trying to figure out what’s the norm for families. As with many immigrant families, you either tend to go to one extreme or the other in trying to figure it out, [like] you do everything you perceive as American.

Initially, I didn’t have a work permit. I had come from working full-time, being a professional person and moving to the U.S. and not having a job and not being able to get a job. That was difficult, there was a lot of depression and the cultural shock can be particularly striking, because you’re not able to get into the culture.

[The President’s immigration policy] does make me feel vulnerable, because I’m not a citizen. One of my sons and I are not [citizens] and that was just kind of a matter of timing. We have permanent residency, but not citizenship. I felt vulnerable before, but still relaxed, and now I feel as if the rules could be changed at any time.

I’m even more sympathetic to the folks that are coming not for economic or intellectual opportunity, but who are coming because the situation in their own country is untenable, and that they’re coming for safety reasons. You can understand the need for a country to want to secure safety for its citizens, on the other hand, I don’t think this current ban is really a productive way to address those questions. I think the immigration process is actually a really strenuous process for everybody, and it’s an even more strenuous process for those who have come from those 7 countries, from those parts of the world.”

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