Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage . . . They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
~Psalm 84:5

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I'm glad I'm not a politician

Because I get too emotionally involved, and I'll make decisions based on my emotions. Besides, I have a mental block against political talk.

But I'm constantly faced with one issue. Everyday. An issue that affects my students, my coworkers, and to an extent, my family.


And it slapped me in the face again last night when I went to the movies. I knew it would. We watched Under the Same Moon. So good and highly recommended! It gives you a different perspective on the whole immigration issue; makes it more real.

Many, if not most, of the people at my school are immigrants. Some legal, some not. Of course all the teachers are legal, but for years I've heard the stories of their struggles -- wives separated from husbands, lawyers taking advantage, employers reneging on promises, dreams deferred. Just two weeks ago my friend, Adriana, was telling me her husband wants to go back to Mexico since he hasn't been able to find work or been successful in obtaining the appropriate visa. But she has a job and she makes good money. The first year they were here she was miserable, missing her family, friends, and life in Mexico. Now she's managed to make a life in Texas, but her husband is the one that's miserable. They are such a sweet couple; it's obvious that they are very much in love. And they love the Lord and radiate His love. Which is probably why I was so shocked when she said she told him he could go but she wasn't leaving!

Then there are the students. I'm fairly certain that all of mine were born here in the States. But some of their older siblings weren't and their parents were most certainly not. They come from all over -- Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela, Salvador, Ethiopia, Nigeria. And many of them are not here legally. So when the father of one of my mother's students was arrested outside the school Thursday morning, we were almost certain little Erik wouldn't see his father again for a very long time. It would have been the second time he was caught, so that meant imprisonment. But by some miracle he was released because the charges they arrested him on were not valid.

How can I be relieved that another illegal resident was set free?

Simple. I look into his child's eyes everyday. And I know what those eyes will look like once his father is taken from him.

I've seen how Randy's ready smile has faded a bit since his father was deported back to Honduras several months ago. His teacher has commented on how his performance in school has waned. He's not concentrating or working as hard as before. And he's only just turned six. How do you explain politics to a kindergartener?

I'm not disillusioned. I know that not all the immigrants here illegally are honest, hard-working people. I know there are murderers, drug dealers and rapist here as well. Some of them may also have students at my school. That's a scary thought. But I just wanted to enlighten you a bit, show you the side of immigration that's not scandalous enough to make headlines.

And to further your enlightenment, go see Under the Same Moon:

Finally, I'll leave you with some of my dad's thoughts on the issue:
For the vast majority, undocumented immigrants seek entry into this country in order to work. Most cannot provide for their families in their own poverty-stricken homelands, so they come to America. They are willing to risk their lives and suffer all manner of hardships for an opportunity to provide for their families. Wouldn’t you?

In his Inaugural Address, President John F. Kennedy declared, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

Millions that have been shackled with the chains of poverty in their own homelands have escaped to America. They seek to free themselves from the shackles of an oppressive condition that would deny them the right to provide for their children. They do not wish us ill, but they will “bear any burden,” and “meet any hardship” simply to acquire relief from the humiliations that come with poverty.

The world is watching and waiting to see how America will solve her immigration issue. It is imperative that we navigate through this human crisis cautiously, and not allow our emotions to convert us into “ugly Americans.”

1 comment:

Tirzah said...

I've thought recently about how complicated the immigration issue is, too. When the issue really exploded a couple of years ago while I was working at a newspaper in heavily Hispanically populated Odessa, I was pretty appalled that it was even an issue -- no one should be here illegally, period. Mainly because when my family came over here over 50 years ago, it was totally legal. Why can't people just obey the laws?

But recently, I've seen (on TV) how it can tear families apart. It is heartbreaking and excruciating. I got a preview of "Under the Same Moon" at work a few weeks ago when I captioned a show that interviewed the movie's director.

There has to be some kind of balance, though. Nickelodeon interviewed a little girl whose parents are here illegally, and she said when the Border Patrol is in the area, they stay shut inside their house, don't use electricity, and don't even use the indoor plumbing. I'm sure it's horrendous when you're just trying to make a better life for your kids...but come on. What do you want to teach them? that it's OK to break the law as long as you're quiet enough to not get caught? what kind of generation are they raising?

So, yes, I realize how complicated it can be. But for the record, my mom (who immigrated here at age 3) still gets livid whenever she hears about illegal immigrants getting social security benefits and having babies over here for free.

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