Today, the Senate passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, 68-32. In the coming days, in the headlines and on the news and in social media, there will be much spin and analysis about who voted for and against and why, what the political ramifications of it, and so on. But I’m hoping to get to you before all that…to ask you to take a breath and read these words and remember what it this bill is about: real people, real workers, real families. As part of an effort in my local community to gather the testimonies of immigrants to share them with legislators, I’ve heard a lot of stories in the last few days. So instead of using my monthly blog post to share my own words, I asked my friend “Guadalupe” if I could use her words, and the words of her children “Cecilia” and “Marcos.” Please read prayerfully and thoughtfully, and know that these are only three of the millions of people in our nation whose lives would be changed with the passage of this bill.
Guadalupe (undocumented mother and worker):
I have lived in this city for seven years with my family…my husband and I are immigrants from Latin America. One of the reasons that we immigrated to this country was to keep my family together and to give my children a better life and education. I know that many say that it is our fault, and we should face the consequences of our actions for infringing upon the law. But if we think about it consciously, I believe each one of us would do whatever was necessary to keep our family together and to give our family a life that is more peaceful. I feel we deserve to be treated with dignity because we are human beings, regardless of our skin color or the language we speak, as long as we are working to incorporate ourselves into society and learn the language. Often we are afraid to express what we experience or feel because we think that no one will listen to us or we will experience some problem since we are undocumented. So because of our fear we often don’t raise our voice and it is difficult for us to participate in activities like this of sharing our testimonies for fear of discrimination. Keeping quiet is the best option that we’ve found even though it hurts to sometimes to see the injustices that exist. Even so, in this beautiful country there are many kind and good people who help us to achieve our dreams, since many of us try to make ourselves and our lives better. For example, in my case, two years ago I attained my GED with the help of some good American friends who generously shared their time and knowledge with me. I understand how difficult it can be for others to approve a big immigration reform, but I appeal to the goodness of your heart, please no do not permit more families to be separated, help us to fulfill our dreams and in this way to be able to together move this great nation forward. May God bless you!
Cecilia, age 11 (US citizen):
I am going to tell you why I think immigrants shouldn’t be deported. People say “No human is illegal” and I agree completely. Immigrants come to this country to find education, a job, freedom, and fun activities. They don’t want to do wrong to this country. I am also part of the Hispanic community and it is a good community, we dance, play, sing, have fun, and help each other. Families are being separated; parents are being separating from their children, friends are being separated and that is so sad…I was born in the USA. I hope my parents won’t get separated from my siblings and me, just because they are immigrants.
Marcos, age 12 (US citizen):
I like America and that’s the truth, it is a wonderful place. There are a lot of kind people that help you. Plus people also are able to get a better education here than in other places in the world. I see in the news that families get separated because of the same reason that they can’t be here. It is sad to see this happen because it makes me think that it might happen to me. I know that it is hard to be here illegal, but it is even harder when you get your family taken away. When I go to school and I hear the pledge of allegiance, I listen to the last part where it says “liberty and justice for all.” I say to myself how I wish that were true.