I’ve confessed before that I’ve turned into a pretty sappy guy of late. Today while listening to a news story on immigration I felt those familiar heartstrings being pulled. The tears weren’t coming—not just yet anyway. But if the story went on it could have gotten ugly.
It was a story on The World about a group of immigrant students who held a sit-in protest in Senator John McCain’s office in Arizona. They spoke with one student, Yahaira Carrillo, who has lived in the United States since she was seven. Her parents were migrant farmer workers for a time and she was brought into the U.S. illegally by them, with no choice in the matter. She’s been in the United States her entire life and considers herself an American. However, she has no path to citizenship. She represents as many as 65,000 students who are in the U.S. illegally, brought here by their parents. Now they’re being punished for their parents’ mistakes.
These students’ only hope is a piece of proposed legislation, the Dream Act, that would give students like them a path to legal citizenship.
Carrillo sounded like your typical American college student. She didn’t have a hint of an accent and says she speaks and writes English much better than she does Spanish (though that shouldn’t matter). The only thing she’s ever known is America and if deported—something she could face after the protest—she has no idea where she would go. And that’s when I felt the heartstrings being pulled:
“We knew what we were facing by going into the Senator’s office, we knew that deportation in the long run is a possibility. But It’s not about us, it’s about something bigger. What matters is the Dream Act, what matters is all of these thousands of young people—like I said, it’s 65,000 a year who graduate who don’t have a path to follow their dreams.”
When Carrillo says she loves America, she’s not just full of it. She wanted to join the Marines and spent a year in an ROTC program before realizing that she’d never be able to join the Armed Forces as an illegal immigrant.
“I love this country,” she says, “I want nothing more than to contribute fully and as much as I can to it.”
Call my sappy, but that kind of initiative and sacrifice on the part of her fellow undocumented students is incredible. I’m no expert on the Dream Act after listening to a five minute radio story, but it seems to me that students like her who didn’t have a choice in breaking the law should have some option other than deportation.
Immigration is a pretty touchy topic these days. I certainly don’t know what the best solution is, but as I read a New York Times piece on the generational divide over immigration, I was reminded that only a hundred years ago my grandparents’ church still had services in German. We are a nation of immigrants. We should never forget that.