By Jaqueline Escobar
Many people have strong, thoughtful opinions about birthright citizenship. Although it may anger some, I want to be clear that my statement is NOT to take a winning side nor make anyone change their views. I want to present a personal perspective about the importance of the issue, not a liberal or a conservative viewpoint. I want to share the experience of those who are undocumented and their journeys through the education system and life in general, because they are just like us, those who were lucky enough to be born with parents who have all the documentation aligned for them.
Immigrants who have come to the U.S. illegally to seek a better life, shelter, better work and wages, should be allowed to stay under conditions that our elected officials can develop to accommodate for them. This country was built by immigrants who came from all over the world, all parts of the world that you can think of. The fact that our government officials are restricting asylum seekers and immigrants from troubled nations is disappointing and disturbing to watch. What happened to America the beautiful? Has this lost all meaning? What about “humanity”?
Since we’re talking about declarations from the past, what about, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”? Where does “all,” including immigrants, stand now? Our teachers are immigrants, our politicians are immigrants, our founding fathers were immigrants, and the people who have birthed you and the people who have birthed them were immigrants. We are all immigrants.
When some look at immigration, they think of criminals entering the country or others ready to take their jobs. They perceive these individuals as monstrous and underclass. But these are the people who mow your lawns in Garden City at the crack of dawn, reconstruct your roof, build and clean your houses. Many of them do not have the proper documentation. But, is this their fault? Immigrants, especially those of Hispanic descent, are not privileged enough to receive documentation, because their parents were not qualified to give that to them.
Inheritance is one reason why those from the upper class have financial stability. Many immigrants continue to live below the poverty level. Why can’t we help those who should be helped? I understand those who earned their wealth want to keep it, but what about those who worked hard, but can’t receive the equal rights and work? Immigrants work as hard as citizens do. They often work hard to receive their visa, green card and pay lawyers, just to allow their families to stay.
Let’s look at one particular student, who is an immigrant and is in school.
Bairon Reyes Luna is currently enrolled in the class of 2022 at Yale University. Reyes was born in Honduras, but spent his whole life living in Hempstead. “In 2005, my parents decided to leave the violence and poverty of our home country and immigrated to the United States,” Reyes said. He was limited by his undocumented status because he couldn’t legally work or vote when he wanted to, but his dreams weren’t crushed. “It was not until I achieved DACA status, that the dream of becoming a doctor became a realizable reality,” Reyes said.
“I do believe that providing a certain status to those who were brought as children here and [who have] grown to call America their home is a must. Furthermore, the immigration system is in dire need of reform,” he said.
Look at the issue we are seeing on the Mexican border. Would it be nice to witness first hand children and their parents being sprayed with tear gas? Is there a way officials can grant visas and green cards to those without criminal backgrounds, who are seeking work, who have children, who need food and shelter? Why does violence have to be the solution?
The color of our skin, the different ways we speak and look, make up the fabric of our multicultural society. Whites, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Mexicans, Africans, you name it, all have the same goal in this life: to reach a level of stability and happiness, that is what matters. And no, we are not illegal aliens; we are only humans living and working hard, day in and day out.
Again I am NOT here to tell you that you are wrong for your views. I am NOT here to convert you to beliefs you do not want. I am sharing the truth about how arrogance and supremacy of certain races throughout history bites us. We are all equal at LIU Post. We should embrace the uniqueness of other students and how they can impact our lives. Learn compassion for those around you, even when they don’t have as much as you do.
And yes, my parents are immigrants and I am proud.