Immigration Reform 

I would like to point out one specific part of this article: 

“There are 11 million people living here illegally,” [McCain] said. “We are not going to get enough buses to deport them.” 

Some audience members shouted out their disapproval. 

One man yelled that only guns would discourage illegal immigration. Another man complained that illegal immigrants should never become citizens or vote. A third man said illegal immigrants were illiterate invaders who wanted free government benefits. 

McCain urged compassion. “We are a Judeo-Christian nation.” 

First of all, I am a daughter of an immigrant and an immigrant, technically. Both my parents were born and raised in South India and moved to US in search of a better life. They wanted me and my younger brother to be natural born citizens of India, so we were both born there. But we both grew up here, so we identify with America and many of the American ideals, without losing our South Indian heritage and traditions. So there is no way that I could possibly be extremely biased in either direction — at least, I don’t think so. 

So as soon as I read that section, my immediate reaction was an eyebrow raise and thinking “WTF”. As it is, we are shooting innocent legal American citizens so how will guns be the answer to illegal immigration? What will the people living in the border states do: shoot illegal immigrants as they try to cross the border? Shoot those who look like illegal immigrants? Doesn’t this all sound somewhat familiar to what America went through — subtly and definitely swept under the rug — with all of the other groups that immigrated here in search of a better life? After all, that’s why we come here: we want to have a life with better opportunities for social mobility and America tends to have the best (overall) opportunities. 

If illegal immigrants shouldn’t become citizens or vote, that means that the Constitution is completely bull, because technically some of the American colonies were founded through squatters and not “authorized” by the British government at that time. Well then, there goes everything that America ever stood for. The whole argument about having natural born citizens being the only Americans — I’ve, sadly, heard this several times on extreme Tea-party-ish-right-wing radio that I had the fortunate pleasure of listening to — means that the Native Americans are the only ones with that right. Oops. 

Illegal immigrants are illiterate invaders that just want free govt. benefits? Well, in some cases, that may be true, but that is only because many of the illegal immigrants didn’t have the means of succeeding in whatever nation they came from. That’s why they were migrating to the US in the first place: a better life. Many of them are poor, without much education either because of lack of money or lack of resources or both. So this argument is at least based in some truth — which is hard to find nowadays I suppose. But still, that doesn’t mean that they get free govt. benefits. In order to enjoy many of them, you need a Social Security Number. And to get that, you need to be a documented immigrant. Without an SSN, there is a lot of benefits and social welfare programs that cannot be taken advantage of in order to create a better life for you and your kids. 

That’s another thing that many of these old, white, angry, testosterone filled, gun-loving men are forgetting. Many of these illegal immigrants are coming here in order to make sure that their children live a better life than they do. Parents often do whatever it takes, even if it means immigrating illegally, if there is the slightest bit of hope that their children will live with better living standards in the future. After all, that is the strongest parental instinct within all of us. Without it, there wouldn’t be much nurturing and children would be left on their own, much like turtles. (Although I think we have evolved quite a bit from that stage, don’t you think?) 

Does all this mean that I don’t support strengthening the border to prevent more illegal immigration? No, of course I support that; because legal immigration has always, historically, been the source of prosperity in America. Does that mean that I don’t support the Dream Act? Of course I do. Children don’t have much say in whether their family illegally immigrates or not, so they shouldn’t suffer as a result of what their parents may have done, breaking a law because of good intentions. So I totally support children who were illegally brought here with their parents getting a path to citizenship — that’s how the poverty cycle will start to crumble for many of these families. 

I took Spanish back in middle school, and I remember watching a movie, the name of which, I sadly have forgotten. It’s about a brother and sister that lived in Guatemala (if I remember correctly?) and wanted to immigrate to the US. But they were from a poor family, a family that works on a rich farmer’s land and helps with the crops, so they didn’t have the money for legal immigration, with the passports and paperwork and all. So the brother and sister opted to smuggle into Mexico and then find a guy that takes people wanting to immigrate illegally through the desert into California/Arizona/New Mexico — for a small sum. So they take this option, but the first time, they were caught and deported to Mexico — because the brother pretended to be Mexican by being a stereotypical Mexican — cursed a lot — so they could try again from Mexico instead of being deported to Guatemala and starting all over. The second time that they tried, they crawled through a large sewage pipe, sewage and all, and were bitten by disease-infested rats along the way. Long story short, the sister died from the wounds, and the brother worked menial jobs that paid post Great Depression wages as he wonders whether all of this was worth it. I guess the moral of this short story is that the illegal immigrants just don’t hop on a bus and cross the border and have everything handed to them on a silver platter.

They work hard; we work hard; we all work hard. Isn’t that what America is about? Working hard and moving up the social ladder? 

Since when did people forget this definition of America? 


About squishymaru

Master's student in chemical engineering with a B.S. in chemical engineering as well. Loves chemistry, math, increasing diversity in STEM, politics, and public health advocacy. Loves reading, writing, and being active -- mentally and physically.

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