A former student of mine is an illegal alien. I’ve written about Jennifer before and her struggles to become a legal citizen – a system that is mired in bureaucracy and unreasonable expense. With the re-election of Barack Obama Jennifer and her family have been working hard to become legal citizens under the lenient statutes that Obama has rolled out. This is a costly process ($1,500 for Jennifer and her two siblings) and the only reason that they’ve been able to pursue the process is because of donations (and we are still $300 short). Jennifer submitted all of her paperwork and the immigration lawyer told her that her case was solid and so when she received her initial rejection, which requested yet more documentation, she was shocked. I wanted to share with you the email she wrote to me. These immigrants are not faceless — not to me. Many of them are my students and I dare you to read this (unedited) and not cry or feel your heart ache for this brilliant, talented young woman who is facing a dismal future without her papers.
“I wish there was something more you could do, but the letters are more suited to people who see me daily since I need to prove I was here continuously for 2012 and specifically for June 15, 2012. What we think happened is that they didn’t exactly read the letters but just glanced at all the dates, because if they had read them then it would be apparent that 2012 falls between 2011 and 2013. I’m not even joking. One of the letters was our lease agreement for where we’re living now, and we moved in here June 2011 and have been living here since. The letter stated, “Jennifer has resided here since June 2011 to the present date.” Anyone with basic comprehension skills would know that the year 2012 was included there, but I imagine if you just did a cursory glance you’d take note of 2011 and nothing more. I don’t know, it feels like total crap. Ugh.
It’s the fact that it’s not personal that aggravates me actually. And I think aggravates most DREAMERS because we are, above all, human beings you know? I am a PERSON, not just a collection of facts. Like, this is intensely personal for me and one could even say that my entire future is riding on it. I can’t not take it personal. It’s my life. IT’S MY LIFE. And the fact that there’s someone out there who is looking at all of the facts without taking into account everything we’ve been through for this, everything we’ve suffered and lost and sacrificed…that’s hard. It’s hard because all I’ve ever wanted to do was go to school and study and learn and…just be normal, and I’ve never really been able to do that…“
It is so easy for us to cast large stereotypical nets. We complain that all welfare families are drug addicts. We complain that all immigrants are lazy drunks who are after our jobs. (Yes, because there are so many people lined up to mow lawns in 100+ degree heat.) But, we must not lose track that we are a country founded by immigrants, for immigrants – these dark faces that we see staring at us could very well be our grandmothers, grandfathers or ancestors. Would we want the good, ambitious bright individuals thrown out with the proverbial “bath water”? If we start closing our borders to immigrants than we have lost track of the very heart of this country – the very thing that makes us strong – the very thing that we should be most proud: the American Dream.