I had the privilege of supporting the undocumented community in their fight against deportations. We heard stories from people who will be deported in a few months time, people whose family members have been deported or will be deported, students who persevere despite that certain opportunities are not available for them because of their immigration status, and those who are fighting continuously to put a stop to unnecessary deportations. One woman told us her story about how she wasn’t even able to hug her husband goodbye as he was taken away by the ICE. She said that her husband isn’t a criminal, yet they treated him as such. A father of a 6 month old baby spoke about how immigration agents raided his apartment building and checked the status of those they found on the way. That night, he was taken into an immigration detention center because he lacked documentations despite that he didn’t have any criminal record. He was given a 6 month stay of removal, but he only has until September to s `tay here in the US until he has to be separated from his family and be deported. A student told her story about how during her last years of high school did she realize that she didn’t have the same opportunities as other students. She couldn’t apply for financial aid and she couldn’t attend certain colleges she wanted all because she lacked papers. These things are happening right now. Families are being separated, hardworking workers are being threatened of being reported to the immigration police if they displease their bosses, diligent students who do not have the same opportunities as students with citizenship or permanent resident documentations that are hindered from achieving their dreams. Immigration is a controversial topic, especially regarding illegal immigration. People who are against illegal immigration argue that undocumented people steal jobs away from those who have proper documentation. Most jobs usually require social security number. Do you know what kind of jobs they are only allowed to obtain? Those jobs that many Americans don’t want. So how can they be ‘stealing’ jobs away if not a lot of people want them? Also, applying for financial aid requires SSN, so undocumented students who wish to attend a university would have to pay cash for tuition, that is, if they are even accepted without a SSN. Another statement that those who are against illegal immigration say is, “If they want to live and work in this country, they have to do it the right way”. That’s a good idea, but that is an ideal idea. It’s not that easy. If you are a parent that have children who are starving and you cannot find work to provide for your family and crossing the border illegally is the only way toward survival, won’t you go? Why is it seem as such a horrible crime, when those people are just trying to survive. I’m not talking about drug dealers and those who have an intention of harming people. I am talking about those people who risk their lives just to step foot in this land we call home. These people are hardworking and do not take anything for granted because they had to risk everything just to come here. Why is it that ignorant people treat them less than human? I really like the word that the young undocumented woman used in her spoken word performance during the rally: HUMANDOCUMENTED. Papers don’t make people better than those without it. Sadly, there are people who actually think this way.
My reason for sharing my thoughts on immigration isn’t so that you can agree with me. My reason is that I want people to be aware that these things are happening. Sometimes, we have a tendency to just focus on our own lives in our comfort zone. Let’s not take for granted the opportunities and resources available for us. College students, let’s not complain about how much student loans we’re taking out and how we’ll be in debt after we graduate. Let’s instead be grateful that we have the opportunity to borrow money so that we can go to the school we want and attain a good education. Those with jobs, don’t complain because you have work the next day. Be grateful that you have a job and that your boss cannot threaten to have you deported at any day. Even if you are being paid minimum wage, be thankful for that. Some undocumented workers aren’t even paid minimum wage. Let’s be thankful that we don’t have to live in fear of being forcefully separated from our families. Let’s be thankful that we can travel and drive without fear of being caught and possibly deported. Let’s be thankful that we have a refrigerator and pantry filled with food. I hear people saying, “Be thankful that we have this and that because people in Africa don’t have these things”. I am glad that people are more aware of poor people in 3rd world countries, but let’s also be aware of people who are living here in the US who don’t have opportunities that we have.
I have a very intelligent friend who was offered a full ride scholarship to a university but she was unable to receive it because she needed 9 digit numbers that she didn’t have that many of us take for granted. I know of a mother who had to leave behind a bottle of milk she just bought for her children despite how scarce money was for them, because they couldn’t carry any more items as they risked their lives to cross the border. Hearing stories like this makes me sad because these are hardworking people who are passionate about succeeding and establishing a good future for their families. At the same time, these people encourage me to become a better person, one who does not take take the basic things in life for granted and really take advantage of the opportunities that are available for me because of my citizenship.
If you are still reading this, thank you. I am aware that not many people would want to read this long post, especially about something that isn’t about what is popular in the media or what the new thing nowadays. I encourage you to stop complaining about little things and keep in mind that there are a lot of people out there who are risking their lives to have the things we have now that we take for granted. I myself have a lot of changing to do. Let us be aware and be thankful for the things that we have and let us also pray for those who are going through sufferings right now.