The Undocumented Mexican Immigrant Family:
Lives Lived In Fear
Imagine, if you can, having to constantly be on the alert for someone who might turn you and your family in for not being in the United States legally. The prospect looms large upon the minds of undocumented immigrant parents, not knowing whether today will be the last day that they will see their children. Most families that are separated from their children do not see them again for many years to come or ever. This is especially the case when one, or both parents do not have legal paperwork to be in the country, and their children were born in the United States. Their children are United States citizens, but they (the parents) are not! This dilemma is encoun-tered on a daily basis by hundreds of thousands of Mexican families, whom are trying to better their lives, emigrating to where there are jobs to be had and the chance of a better life for their spouses and children.
All children deserve the opportunities, which are given freely to the majority of their neighbors, whom by chance, or luck, were born in the United States, and thus became the recipi-ents of these opportunities. Of what opportunities do I speak? The opportunity to attend a school, to receive a high-quality education, and even to attend an institution of higher learning, such as most state and private universities throughout the United States provide today.
One such opportunity is the right to vote for candidates for public office. Being able to voice your concerns about your community is part of civic engagement. The right to drive a car legally in the U.S., enabling the person to get to and from job sites to work to provide for his family, to become a member of a coalition pushing for legislative reform of existing laws, which have, in your opinion, become outdated, and no longer serve their original purpose. These oppor-tunities are denied to Mexican Immigrants without legal paperwork, even though they, too, have to survive in America today.
“Deportation of Mexican Illegal Immigrants has become epidemic in the past decade, es-pecially with the passing of new legislation, such as the USA Patriot Act, and increased efforts to deport undocumented immigrants” (Kanstrom, 2008). The article, entitled “The Impact of Detention and Deportation on Latino Immigrant Children and Families: A Quantitative Exploration,” came from the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, a paper written by faculty members, and was dated 01/01/2010. In the last four years more undocumented immigrants have been detained and deported than in the past two Presidential terms in office. The situation has now come to the point of merely flying the deported to their home state of record in their country of origin, without bothering to detain them long enough to determine whether or not they should be allowed to stay.
The end result is broken families with one or more parents deported, and their children farmed out to foster homes. There have even been cases of the soon to be deported parents kill-ing their children and then taking their own lives to prevent the family members being parted. As an American one can count oneself very fortunate that such an act has never been perpetrated upon oneself. Maybe it is time to stop and take a concerted look at the United States Immigration Policy of today. A more humane and up to date answer to the situation in which many today find themselves is needed now! A solution is out there and now is the time to implement these changes for the betterment of our nation.
America’s Broken Promise
To the Hispanic
The Obama administration has done little to carry out its commitment to the Hispanic people now residing within its borders. President Obama accelerated the process of deportation of undocumented immigrants during his term in office, and the Immigration and Customs En-forcement (I.C.E.) stepped up its efforts to accomplish the goal. The President included instruc-tions for faster review of each individual case, some three thousand, to determine the level of risk to the United States, by allowing low-risk undocumented Hispanic Immigrants [of which Mexi-cans are the largest ethnic group] to stay and to pursue citizenship. Of the three thousand cases to be reviewed to date approximately sixteen hundred have been reviewed to this day. Many feel that the agency (I.C.E.) is intentionally dragging its feet in hope that even more stringent en-forcement of present immigration laws will be achieved in the next Presidential term.
Republican Party presidential candidates are in conflict with each other over the seeming-ly taboo subject of Immigration Reform in the United States. The subject tends to surface in the majority of presidential candidate debates, and is almost certainly going to be the determining factor in seating the next President in the White House. Hispanic voter turnout, especially Mexi-can-American voters, at the polls on election-day, will be a political force to be dealt with in de-ciding who will be the next President.
Whoever the next President of the United States will be, he will have to establish com-mon ground with the Hispanic community. One of the most important issues to be addressed will be the present shortages of skilled migrant crop harvesters in the agricultural realm. States such as Kansas, Alabama, Florida, Michigan, and many others will need these workers to keep eco-nomically solvent. If it is not addressed farmers will have acres and acres of rotting crops left in the fields. Seasonal Migrant Worker permits will need to be given to Mexican workers to prevent this catastrophic occurrence from happening in up-coming years.
American businesses of all sizes in their constant search for cheap labor may recover from the most recent recession quicker with the help of lesser stringent immigration laws, and may even eventually bring back their production activities from other nations to the United States. The result could be the resumption of Americans working here at home and a boom in U.S. made products. A President and U.S. Congress working together could accomplish this goal. To do this would change many minds as to the effectiveness of their government, and put the country back on the track to recovery. America’s promises to the Hispanic community could then be realized, helping both the peoples of Mexico and the United States. The promise of America to the Hispanic Community would then be fulfilled.
The Trauma of Being a Non-Documented Immigrant:
A Life Lived in Fear
The majority of non-documented Mexican immigrants live in a constant state of fear. Always wondering when the axe will fall, and the prospect of detention and deportment looms large in their minds. The trauma of trying to maintain a low profile to avoid detection, and still try to live a normal life is daunting. Many are desperately trying to blend in with the documented population in an effort to avoid detection by immigration authorities, while at the same time live what is considered a normal life. The fear of deportment means separation from children born in the United States, wives who are natural born U.S. citizens, and other family members whom are citizens already.
Looking over one’s shoulder, fearing that some mannerism will make one suspect of being an un-documented immigrant means being in a constant state of high-vigilance. A lapse of this vigilance could mean being targeted by the local police, as is being done in a multiple of states as part of the Secure Communities initiative. This initiative allows local police to stop drivers for any reason if suspected of being un-documented. If jailed, fingerprints are taken, and sent to the immigration (I.C.E.) authorities. A possible undocumented immigrant status places one in dire circumstances and subject to detention and deportment. This is especially true of mixed families, where one or even both parents are un-documented and their children are natural born citizens by virtue of being born in the United States.
The prospect of such a possibility places one in a constant state of fear for one’s own safety, and the safety of one’s family. Psychological trauma also extends itself to the wives, or husbands and children that are legal that are left behind, while the other is deported, with little chance of ever attaining legal means of reunification short of once again crossing the Mexico-United States border illegally.
The Long Fight for
In the United States today, the fight for a comprehensive immigration reform is either going to finally be passed in the U.S. Congress or delegated to the circular file of failed attempts at leveling the playing field for those not of European descent. It appears to be, and let’s be honest, another form of racial discrimination. The darker the color of one’s skin– the more inequity and scapegoat-ism one will experience. One example of this was found in the hiring of 6500 Intel employees by issuing visas to “Irish” workers, not blacks, or non-documented Mexican workers, who were already here. If a real show of non-racial prejudice were to be found, it has not shown itself in the news articles recently.
A show of racial equity would be in the reform of present immigration laws, allowing full amnesty for non-documented immigrants already living here in the United States. This reform would issue current non-documented immigrants with a combination driver’s license/work visa for one year. This show of good faith on the U.S. Government’s part would not be one-sided, but would come with the stipulation that they register with locally appointed officials appointed by the Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (I.C.E.), within one month of passage of the Reform Law, and that they do not commit any form of violent crime. The ability to put their children into our public schools, [all State schools and Universities] at in-state rates of tuition and access to health care for their families, job training for the non-educated workers without jobs, and a non-discriminatory attitude toward all. Also, and the most important part, they must attain United States Citizenship within three years.
What’s in it for us? Populations of U.S. citizens that are finally convinced that their government offers free and impartial care for “all” its citizens, without regard to the color of