Nearly 246,000 Nepalese live throughout the United States, and of this number, about 13,000 make Colorado home. Of these, a small number live right here in Durango.
People do not normally seek to immigrate to other countries if they can receive proper social benefits within their own homeland. These benefits essentially include whatever is needed for a basic standard of living.
They want to see their children have the opportunity for a brighter future than they themselves might have had in their countries of origin. It is worthwhile to make the move to the United States, even though many are aware that those dreams might not come true for everyone. The hope for a bright future for their children and families motivates most immigrants who come to the U.S.
There are different types of visas for foreigners to enter, such as the well-known student visa, working visa, visiting visa, business visa, etc. It is a real challenge to obtain any type of visa to come into this country. People can change their status legally into permanent residency by marrying a U.S. permanent resident or requesting asylum. To become a permanent legal resident in this country is an even more difficult and a far more complicated and drawn-out process.
The Electronic Diversity Visa is a legal permanent resident visa program the U.S. provides to certain countries for people living under the line of poverty. There are certain requirements to qualify for the program, such as education, work experience, age, etc. This particular program is less expensive and also takes less time than other methods. Many immigrants, like my wife and me, came to this country through this program.
It is not easy for immigrants, who struggle in a new place with new people and a new language, even though they are ready to work hard in order to establish for themselves a good lifestyle and to see their futures manifested in the U.S.
After securing a permanent residence card (Green Card) or citizenship, immigrants need a good and reliable source of income, a decent bank balance and all taxes paid in order to sponsor relatives who will come join them in the U.S. This financial stability indicates that they can take care of the themselves and the newcomers.
The Trump administration is not as flexible toward immigrants. During the presidential election of 2016, Trump said, “America is having more challenges in domestic security because of immigrants,” and “Real Americans are being unemployed because of immigrants.” These are unfair assertions that generalize blame upon all immigrants, and is aimed at creating a public sentiment that supports stopping immigrants from coming to the U.S. through programs like the EDV.
If the government stops such programs, this country would lose an innovative and potent workforce, ready to share their skills, knowledge and strong work ethic. The U.S. would also lose a significant number of new taxpayers. The rich diversity of immigrant religions, cultures, languages and all that they value from their countries of origin would no longer be shared with the American community and this cultural resource would be lost as well.
As for me, I came to the United States in 2009 and found Durango in 2011. This peaceful, easygoing place with heavenly scenery and friendly people attracted me, and I started to feel Durango was much like my home in Nepal.
I decided to stay and bring over my wife, Yasoda, who was already waiting for her U.S. visa. She arrived in 2013, and she liked it here right away. She is now working at Walmart.
Now, we have a 38-month-old Durango-born child, Abhinna, and we plan to live in Durango all our lives. As my wife said, “Durango is a really beautiful place and people are friendly and helpful. We can raise our child in the lap of nature here.”
Ganesh “Apeshka” Shrestha is currently employed at Fort Lewis College.