Friday, May 28, 2010

On immigration

Oh no, she's getting political on us. Actually, not really. I hate politics and I hate discussing politics with anyone but my inner circle. I have this problem with seeing things both ways so it's hard for me to make a decision. I suppose I respect the other person and their opinions so much that other people might get pissed off at me for not being pissed off enough.

Immigration is a touchy, sensitive, divisive and personal issue for me so that's why I never comment on it.

I shall give a little background on my family, but keep in mind, this is all oral history.

My dad came to this country in the 1960s on worker visas. His dad came to work as a bracero in the 1940s. (Side note: my siblings and I are trying to find any documentation on this at and we might have, very exciting.) He did not stay here. He decided to move back to Mexico once his visa or arrangement had expired. My dad, however, had other plans. My dad only has a middle school education even though he loves to learn and one day dreamed of being an architect. But of course, his situations could not accommodate that. He lived in a room with my grandmother and 4 other siblings. There were no beds and barely any clothes. To this day, he'll never go camping because he grew up sleeping on the floor. His dad was absent most of his life. He decided that there is something more and better in life so he came to the US for his "American Dream". He got his paperwork in order and crossed the border....legally. Now this is where it all gets fuzzy. My dad is the type of guy that puts a sunny disposition on things. He doesn't like to talk about the darker parts in life, or the struggles unless there is a lesson to be learned. So my dad came here, year after year, with visas in hands to try to get legalized papers. He'd overstay his visa until he got kicked out, but would continue the process once he got a new visa. They were tough times. He showered in a bucket and had one meal a day. He lived in LA. He hated it, but he knew there was something more. Finally, the day came when my dad got his green card. By then, he'd moved up to Portland (I think). My pops LOVES to play the lottery, so he bet on the horse races and won. That was enough money to furnish the apartment and go marry my mom. So that he did. He headed back down to Mexico, married my mom, impregnated her on the honey moon and headed back to Portland. A year or so later, when my oldest brother was 8 months old, my dad came back with all necessary papers to bring my brother and my mom back... Legally.

Ok, so that's our story.

Now, this is what I don't understand about the debate. I honestly don't know how difficult it is to be a "legal resident alien" here in the United States. I know it took my dad YEARS, but still, he did it. Now, I'm not saying its not hard, but my dad didn't go into detail about HOW hard it was.

So now we have this debate going on (which is not new.) Illegal immigrants are invading. Unfortunately, they seem to want to put a color to those illegals. What about the Canadians, or the Europeans or even the white South Americans from Argentina, Chile...? I have not statistics, I'm not researching, this is all just my opinion and my questions. I'm not saying illegal immigration a long the border is NOT problem. I'm not, I sympathize. I can understand how scary it must be to feel like a stranger in your own town. But what gets me is the black and white view of either your illegal or a citizen. The reason I bring this up is becuase I read this article where US senate canditate Rand Paul says "... But I think what we should do is we shouldn't provide an easy route to citizenship." The "easy" route to citizenship is being birthed here. That's for another time though.

So my question is why is it either or? Either your illegal or your a citizen. Where is the "legal resident alien" status of people. In my opinion, the problem is how difficult, how many hoops it takes to come to this country LEGALLY.

Not everyone who comes here or visits wants to be a citizen of the United States. It's a big deal. It's like telling one parent you love them more. If you think about the lyrics of the pledge of allegiance, that's a big deal. You are pledging allegiance to a country you're suppose to love, honor and respect. I take that seriously. When I lived in Mexico for two years, I couldn't say their national anthem. I loved my country. I think that's how a lot of legal residents must feel during that limbo time. Do I really want to go ahead and turn my back on my country, one might ask? It took my parents 40 years to decide to become citizen, not because they couldn't, but because they still hoped to one day go home. But by being legal residents all these years, they still payed taxes, yet they couldn't vote. That was privilege that was not granted to them as non-citizens. After much thought though, they decided it was the right time and an historical time at that. It's small price to pay for the allegiance to another country.

I don't know. That's just how I feel. I have statistics, no studies, no research done. I just have a lot of heart, a history background and a lot of questions pertaining to why people can't try to step in other shoes and ask themselves, if I were in this situation...what would I do?

I guess its the historian with an Ethnic Studies emphasis (don't get me STARTED on that one) in me that makes me ask all these questions, because as you've all heard, history repeats itself and this topic is no exception.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

People try to make things black and white because it's comforting to believe you understand things and have the right answer. It takes a strong person to tolerate ambivalence.