If you don’t like the narrative, change it. That’s what proponents of in-state tuition for illegal aliens did in Maryland, resulting in the passage of Question 4 last fall. It became an issue of “fairness” rather than an issue of rewarding lawbreakers.
For Action Against America is trying this tactic on a national scale, with an e-mail from Jose Magana asking “where’s your family from?” (The answer in my case: Toledo, Ohio.)
I was brought to this country from Mexico when I was 2 years old.
I am an undocumented immigrant — and I am living proof that our immigration system is broken.
For the first 17 years of my life, I slept on a couch. My mom worked three jobs to support our family.
I worked hard, too. I did my homework, participated in class, and earned the opportunity go to college. But after I enrolled, state law changed and many undocumented immigrants were forced to drop out. Suddenly they could no longer afford the education they were eager to work for.
We started organizing. We’d go up to people on campus, and ask them if they’d heard about the DREAM Act, which would allow hard-working immigrants who grew up in the U.S. to earn a path to citizenship. For those who opposed it, we’d tell them what happened to us.
It was amazing: Just telling our stories would change people’s minds.
This is exactly how we’re going to persuade people across the country to get behind President Obama’s plan for comprehensive immigration reform.
Everyone has a story — I’m sure you do, too. As the President said last week, “Unless you’re one of the first Americans, a Native American, you came from someplace else. Somebody brought you.”
At this critical moment, will you share your immigration story? Organizing for Action will use these stories to move the conversation forward.
Now, almost six years later, I’ve completed law school and was fortunate to receive deferred action. I consider myself an American, and I want to play by the same rules as everyone else. But, as it stands, I can never become a citizen. I can’t adjust my status. For most of my life, I could have been arrested, detained, and deported.
I’m not alone. Millions of undocumented immigrants like me live in fear of being deported permanently to a country we may have never even visited. Our entire lives could be erased.
You might not live under the same shadow. But the best thing about this country is that we are more alike than we are different. We all have a story of a mother, or grandfather, or great-great grandparent who came here to find opportunity or safety.
Through this grassroots movement, we can raise our voices, tell our stories, and make sure Congress and all Americans better understand the ties that bind us. Our stories can drive our organizing. Share your own story today, and help Organizing for Action get the word out on why this matters:
The majority of Americans agree we need to fix our badly broken system, and we saw major progress last week. But it’s on us to keep up the momentum and make sure it gets done.
Thanks for speaking up.
As usual, the links return to the my.barackobama.com domain, which is still active even though he won four months ago.
But to me what’s more important is what’s missing. For example, why was mom working three jobs? First of all, someone obviously hired her not knowing (or not caring) about her immigration status. Did she get a driver’s license, Social Security number, and so forth illegally? In and of itself, crossing the border illegally is not a serious crime – but forgery and passing yourself off as another person is. How about Jose? What sort of documents does he possess since he came here illegally?
Listen, I’m glad he went to law school. Hopefully what he learned there is that we are a nation of laws, and his very presence here violates a fair number of them.
So when immigrants are beseeched to share their stories, it’s not to “move the conversation forward.” It’s to obfuscate the fact that millions upon millions are here illegally. That’s a slap in the face to those who did things the right way for their American dream. I want to say it was my great-grandparents who came here from Germany and Poland; granted, the laws were much different back at the turn of the last century but undesirables could – and were – sent packing back to their homelands, even in that era.
Sadly, for all his good qualities, Jose seems to be the exception to the rule. He’s obviously one of those who got the pseudo-amnesty (known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) from Barack Obama last year so he wouldn’t have to go back to Mexico.
But let’s turn the story on its head. How fair do you think it is he got the preferential treatment of a tuition break, at least until, as he states, “state law changed and many undocumented immigrants were forced to drop out.” (We don’t know which state.) Presumably they no longer received the in-state tuition break meant for students who lived in-state legally.
More importantly: how fair is it that he can work legally (thanks to DAFCA) but his mother cannot?
Another thing we don’t know: how many brothers and sisters does Jose have, particularly those who were fortunate enough to be born here as “anchor babies.” Doesn’t matter who the dad is, he could be illegal, too. (Sort of like an alternate take on the “Julia” character from Obama’s campaign, we know nothing about what Jose’s father did for the family.)
In short, because the illegal alien advocates can’t win on the facts, the Obama administration recruited one of the few who seems to want to assimilate into American culture as a friendly, non-threatening spokesperson for the effort. But there’s a big difference between his generation and that of my ancestors who came from Europe. Of course, both had a language barrier and both were willing to work hard to make ends meet at “jobs Americans wouldn’t do.”
But the children of my ancestors wanted to be American, so much so that there’s very little which belies my family’s ethnic heritage besides the name and my dad’s longtime enjoyment of polka music. Aside from that, we were thoroughly American two generations removed.
Instead, in this day and age many who come here, whether through cultural or religious preference, have two to three generations who maintain the ways of their homeland. Rather than actively seek to assimilate, they would rather America adapt to suit them. Growing up we weren’t subjected to bilingual society, nor was anyone else outside a few limited enclaves within large cities (like Chinatown.)
But in my travels, particularly along U.S. 13 south into Virginia, I find a number of businesses which cater to the 9 percent of Accomack County residents who do not speak English at home – the signage is in Spanish. (Amazingly, nationwide this number is at 20 percent.) One would think those who don’t speak English would want to be part of the 90-plus percent who do; that’s always been the norm. And I’m aware that the actual number of Spanish-speaking residents who reside there is probably double what the official Census data I looked up shows; even so, the vast majority speak English.
In the end, though, it’s about politics. Both parties believe that bending over backwards to cater to the Latino population will win them votes; however, Republicans – who are traditionally immigration and border security hawks – risk alienating more of their base than they would win among Latino voters. And Democrats know it, which is why the push to make immigration an emotional issue rather than a rational one. That’s the only way they can win.
If we are a nation of laws, Jose Magana goes back to Mexico. As a law student, he has the skills to get a green card and return to work here legally but I believe he should return to his native country to pursue the option.
Obviously some will howl that it’s not fair he has to do this, but the lesson here is life’s not fair. Some of us were blessed to be born in America, others go through the legal process to become naturalized, and still others choose to stay here temporarily. But they should do it legally, and that’s where Jose is lacking. Say “no way” to Jose and his sob story.