Okay, I will probably make some people mad with this post, but I just have to talk about President Obama’s Presidential Address.
Let’s put a face to immigration for starters, everyone has this picture in their minds about illegal immigrants and it never seems to be someone they know. So put my face on it, ME. I was brought here illegally when I was almost two years old along with my little brother by our mother in search for a better life.
My mother worked incredibly hard in order for us to have basic needs like food, a place to live, clothes to wear and a good education. We grew up in a rough neighborhood but it was home and we thrived regardless. We were happy children and never thought we were different. However, we were, and as we got older we began to learn fear. We were afraid to talk to people about where we were from, we wouldn’t apply to school programs because we didn’t want to “out” ourselves, and slowly we began to slide into the shadows and learned to hide. My brother and I were both great students, we never got into trouble and we played by every rule and never thought to ever break any laws. There were days when we didn’t know whether or not our mother would make it home, and then there were days when we were afraid that we ourselves would be deported.
Fast forward to when I was 19, I tried to legalize myself and instead received a letter asking for a voluntary deportation, in exchange I would be granted to opportunity to apply from “my country of origin” and in 8 months I would come home as a legal resident of the United States. Now, first of all, my country of origin was incredibly foreign to me as I had never lived there and what that letter did not state was the ridiculous amount of money it would take to get that paperwork submitted. Regardless, it was the only chance I had and I decided to do it. I left my family, my friends, my “life” and my home in hopes that a true bargain had been made. It took 2 years for me to finally come home, a lot of money, a lot of tears. They were the saddest two years and the longest years of my life and they almost broke me. They almost broke me of my love and my faith, but I am still standing. Now, my circumstances were different, it was a different time and different laws, and it was difficult. I am now a naturalized US Citizen and I don’t have to hide in the shadows. It is so liberating to be able to drive without fear that a traffic ticket could result in me being separated from my family. I can openly apply for jobs, attend school, get a degree (I am now working on my BS), simply feel FREE. However, now I get to remain afraid for my brother and my mother. They are still not safe, and they may never be.
My brother is one of the smartest men I know, he paid his own way through college…..cash, money he earned working a full-time job while being a full-time student at Cal State Los Angeles and GRADUATED, and he is now working (legally thanks to President Obama) as an advocate for immigrant rights. My mother, she hasn’t stopped working. She has never stopped fighting (I think I get it from her). Me, I am a military service member, and yes I joined because it was my duty, to MY Country, to SERVE. We have all done more than just contribute, we have served and fought for this country. We will continue to do our share, pay taxes, and yes, fight, fight for equality and opportunity. Say what you want, but WE ARE THE FACE OF IMMIGRATION.
Tonight’s Presidential speech left me hopeful and angry, hopeful that maybe many people I know who are good and decent will finally have that chance, and angry at the disgusting reaction of many. Many who have never and will never know what it is to suffer, to fear, to need something, TRULY need something. People say that I am rare, and more immigrants should be like me, that if more of them were like me, more people would support immigration reform. Believe me when I tell you there is thousands like me, I can’t throw a rock without hitting another hard-working, trustworthy, honest individual who also happens to be affected by immigration. The majority of people I know are like me, and I am the way I am because of them, they shaped who I am.
Open your eyes America, see ME, see US, we are standing right here NEXT TO YOU, ACCEPT US.