Lately, it is hard to go anywhere without hearing debates about illegal immigrants.
Whether it is turning on the news, reading a paper, or even talking to someone in the grocery store, chances are there will be talk about illegal immigrants. Some talk calls for deporting all of them. You know, they're eating up all of our tax dollars. Other talk is more sympathetic and wants to give them things, because there's enough tax dollars to spare. At least that's some of the talk.
I had my own experience with a young woman who was here illegally and it made me rethink some of my views on the "illegal problem."
My son brought home a group of friends he'd met at work one day not that long ago. One of these friends was a young Mexican girl. They all stayed for dinner and when it was time for everyone to leave she thanked me profusely for my hospitality. It stayed with me how appreciative she was about a few slices of pizza.
She came back a few more times after that and spoke of wanting to attend college and trying to find a job that would pay a decent salary. Many of the jobs she was working at were very menial labor for very low wages. I have to admit that I took notice of how hard she hustled to find any kind of work and I thought of my own teenagers, one who worked and one who thought work was bringing his plate down from his room.
Finally I asked her why she was having such difficulty and she told me that she was not here legally. Her parents had brought her here when she was 2. They had two more kids who were citizens because they were born here. She was the one in limbo. Deportation wasn't a worry for her as much as making a decent life for herself.
Now before you all start screaming about the free education she received and our tax dollars that were a benefit to her educationally, please, just think about her as a person for a minute who had no choice in any of this. She was brought here by her parents. She was allowed to attend and graduate school. Now at 20 she is unable to work a regular job because she has no papers or social security card which also means she cannot graduate college.
Mexico is a strange land to her. She thinks of America as her country and who really can blame her? Living in a place for 18 years sort of makes a person feel as if they're home, even if a majority hates them.
Now you can scream. I don't blame you. I pay taxes too and I'm a single mom who has struggled heartily to care for my kids, citizens. I have gone years without health care because I couldn't afford the ridiculously priced COBRA payments after losing my job. I have avoided becoming one of the numbers at Social Services though I know many who were not as fortunate. We are having trouble taking care of our own. Why should we also take care of them? I know. I know. I've heard all the arguments and they aren't wrong.
But still. I watched how hard this girl has tried to build a life and the reality is here in America, the land of immigrants, she will be stuck working off the books jobs which means someone's cleaning woman or maybe nanny. What else can she do? And how can I scream and beat my chest in anger when I look at this poor girl who is a victim of circumstances, circumstances beyond her control. I can't.
I did make some inquiries to see what she could do to become legal, but it seems nearly impossible. Even though she was brought here as a minor, a toddler, she cannot petition from this country. Or at least that was the rule a few months ago. She needs a sponsor. Her brothers are her best chance though they aren't of legal age yet so she has a few years. Meanwhile she waits in limbo picking up odd jobs here and there, taking buses everywhere, never really getting anywhere.
You don't have to feel sorry for her. But I do.