- Posted July 18, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Immigration: How does it affect you?
Another immigration perspective
Although I am an immigrant from Latin America, which has not yet become a U.S. citizen, Obama's policy regarding the DREAMERS does not affect or help me at all. And neither would have done it for one simple reason: I belong to immigrants from across the spectrum, i.e., those who must stand in line for years for one day to receive the long-awaited legal residence, known as "green card".
I came to this country with all legal documents to work as a teacher: with a work permit renewable every three years. To become a legal resident, my employer sponsored me, in a process that took 7 years. Of course, if I had married a U.S. citizen, I would have obtained the residence in less than a year.
I am one of the lucky ones, that is, one that had a work visa and the provision of an employer to help me obtain a green card. However, for every person who has the means to achieve to become a legal resident in this country, there are many who do not have this possibility. As a teacher, I witnessed that situation.
During my career in education, I worked for 9 years as an ESL teacher for children from third to fifth grade in a rural school in a southern state in the United States. Attracted by jobs in the fields or in chicken and turkey packing factories, in conditions that no American would support, thousands of Mexicans and Guatemalans started to arrive to the small town where I worked. Many of them brought their families, hoping to githey lack in their countries of origin.
My job was to teach English and the American culture to facilitate my students the transition to the life in this country. Many of my students marveled at the learning technology that the school had and, by contrast, they told me how their life was in their home, from the home where they lived until the school they attended. They also talked about what they wanted to become when they grew up.
Most said they wanted to become doctors, lawyers or dentists. Others wanted to be firemen or policemen. Some even dreamed of joining the army.
I just listened without daring to wake them from their DREAM. By being so young, they didn’t realize that, due to their immigration status was different than the rest of their classmates’. They did not know that there is another way to enter this country, which was considered legal, other than the ones they already knew: walking across the border at night, hidden in trucks, or overstaying their visas. They only knew that their parents had brought them to a country where they eat burgers and pizzas instead of beans and tortillas.
Most of these students have already graduated or are about to graduate from high school. Most of them, by this time, might have awakened from their DREAM and have noticed that their immigration status is a barrier that stops them to become the men and women they DREAMT when they were children.
I always thought: What do I get by teaching those children English and the culture of the United States, if that same culture rejects them? What is the usefulness of knowing a language they would not be able to use in college?
The answer was simple: to give them a voice and a sense of identity.
I never lost hope that some of my students will have the opportunity to succeed in college, although they would not be able to practice their profession immediately. But if they were prepared by the time a reform were made and they were able to come out of the shadows, they would be able to do their best for a country they consider theirs.
The policy that was announced last June 15 might be seen as a political tactic to get the Latino vote in the upcoming elections. Some even say the world would see it as message that tell them to: "come to the United States illegally that we arrange their status." But, whatever the criticisms it rises, it is a very important step that has been taken to help those who never were asked to be brought to this country.
No. Obama's policy does not help me get a green card or become a citizen. But, it helps those who came to this country with a big DREAM and little chance of being able to make it true.