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    Posted February 4, 2014 by
    arodomus
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    A chat with Juan, the undocumented worker.

     
    Recently, there was a young man, about 23 years old or so, and he was doing construction work on our bathroom. Juan shared that he was here "sin papeles," which translated means "without papers," aka undocumented. Juan is one of over 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Juan spoke with me about immigration, life, work, and the opportunities that many take for granted in the United States. At one point during our conversation, Juan says to me, "You know what I want in life? I want to become the superintendent responsible for maintaining one of these buildings!"

    How many people do you know that have such a clearly defined goal? He doesn't want fame or riches. He's not after glory or power, he just wants to be a building superintendent. He’s not “stealing” our jobs, he’s not trying to hurt anyone. He just wants to continue to earn an honest living, provide for his family, and advance his station in life. Just like you and I do. However, so what if he did have his eyes set on those other goals mentioned, I still can’t see what’s wrong with that? Why would anyone have a problem with Juan achieving his goals? His success in this country doesn’t hurt us in any way! Also, I am a firm believer that you have to respect a man who has goals, and wants to work hard to earn an honest living!

    Speaking with Juan illustrated to me that depending on where you are in life, it may take more or less to make you happy. Some folks are perfectly content living off of the government; Juan would never want that. Some people want to be on television. Some of us want to save lives and change the world. Some want to see political reform, and some of us just want to be a superintendent. I would bet though, that after serving as a superintendent for a few years, Juan would want to rise to the level of building manager, or somehow advance his career. What do you think? Remember back in school when you learned about Maslow's hierarchy of needs? Using myself as an example, I have a career working on Wall Street as a computer technician, I made it to this place from the hood known as the South Bronx! Depending on who you ask, “I made it.” Yet, I am far from satisfied. I want to keep rising in the music industry; I want to keep appearing on television, and I want to make it as a respected columnist. Instead of simply being content and satisfied with where I am in life, I am constantly striving for more, relentlessly pursuing success, and never satisfied. On Maslow's hierarchy, I stand somewhere different than Juan on this day. However, I believe that once Juan's more critical needs are met, he too will set his sights on the next level of whatever his personal path may be. It is human nature to desire advancement from wherever we may be.

    Juan is very soft spoken, humble, and very open about residing in this country undocumented. I have mixed feelings about this topic; I'm not going to lie to you. I believe that my views are highly reasonable, though people on either extreme of the political spectrum would probably disagree with me on this. People that are here undocumented, but have been doing the right things, should be given a chance by our government. A perfect example is Sergio Garcia, the man who recently fought for the right to practice law in the U.S while being here undocumented. I do not agree that he should be able to practice law in the U.S while he is technically breaking the law. However; I support making him a legal resident of the U.S through some established path, and then, and only then allowing him to practice law in this land. He’s been waiting 20 years, and I know that’s hard, but things have to be done the right way. How can you practice law, while breaking the law? Is this not a fair view? Just the same, I won't hesitate in stating my support for deporting people that are not contributing any value to our society. Criminals, deadbeats, and others that are simply here bleeding the system while contributing nothing of value to the country, those folks have got to go. We have enough of those here with documents (but that’s another post) to keep those that are not legally allowed to be here.

    Juan would qualify as one of the people that our government should be helping. He has been here a long time, he pays his taxes; he works hard as I witnessed myself, and he's an honest citizen of this society, albeit, while being here undocumented. He even said that he had been offered stolen social security numbers, and stolen identities to get over on the system. However; he refused these methods on the grounds that he wants to do things the right way. As influential members of this society, we have to respect that, it cannot be taken for granted! Guys like Juan deserve a chance to be a super, or a lawyer, or whatever he wants to be.

    As Juan continued to share, he began expressing some of his frustrations with the current system. He expressed how he works very long days, full time, overtime, and much more. He said that he always paid his taxes on time, and that he even has to pay more money to Uncle Sam at the end of every year. He stated that he did everything to live by the laws of this land. His one and only crime, the only thing he did wrong, was that he entered this country with his parents as a child without any legal documentation. Bear in mind that this is something that was, in essence, out of his control. Living in America is all he knows, this is his way of life, and I feel to call him anything other than American is not right.

    Here are some points that Juan made in respect to pursuing the American dream as an undocumented immigrant in this country.

    - Juan hasn't seen his extended family for decades. He cannot leave this country at all to visit his family because he won't be able to get back in.

    - Juan pays taxes using a special number that he was given. However; for all of these years that he has been working, none of them will apply towards his social security. He also mentioned that he has never received one cent back for his taxes. In fact, he often owes the government more money at the end of each year.

    - Juan said that his bosses abused him in terms of the hours he worked, withholding owed pay, and other human resources violations. However; since he is undocumented, he cannot complain to anyone about it.

    - Juan stated that he was paid a quarter of what the job is worth. He said that not only is he better at the job than his documented colleagues; he manages and teaches them what to do while being paid less than then.

    - Juan pointed out how he observes so many people in this country that are here legally, with so many opportunities available to them, yet they do nothing positive with their lives. Instead of thriving in this land, they choose to lead lives of crime and destroy their communities. Meanwhile, he's thinking of how far he could go if he had those same opportunities.

    It was very informative for me to get this personal and in depth insight into the mind of a man that is in this situation. I feel that Juan deserves a chance to do well in this country. What are your thoughts on this topic?

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