I’m an immigrant. I came to this country for the same reason everyone does- because this country is great and in it’s greatness offers more opportunity than anywhere else in the world. I can count so many close friends here, from all over the globe- Mexico, Canada, Ukraine, Iran, Israel, China, and the list goes on. But we all came for one reason- because The United States offers the ability to build and create something where there once was nothing in a way that no other country can. Texas offered my husband and I the greatest freedom to be able to build and grow a business but it wasn’t easy. Immigrating was a long, hard, draining, sometimes fearful, expensive process. There were times upon leaving the US when I would worry that we possibly might not be allowed back. I always had anxiety spending hours in secondary questioning at customs. There was once a time in our process for a new Visa where we were missing one of the required documents and were temporarily denied until we got it. I remembering studying for, and sweating my way through my citizenship exam. I still feel sometimes like it isn’t real or that it can be taken away. It feels fragile.
One of the greatest joys in my life was finally becoming a US citizen but it was through a lot of blood sweat and tears. I couldn’t imagine coming here, not knowing the language, running from something sinister and having no documentation at all. The anxiety and fear would be tremendously overwhelming. That being said, I don’t neccesraily think it's right that while following the law it was easier in certain respects for others to come into this country without the same due-process, so I do indeed think we need serious immigration reform; not to make it harder for people, but rather to make it EASIER, and most importantly- SAFER!
Before I point out some things that I haven't yet heard a peep about on social media in regards to all of this, I just want to make clear that I do not in any way condone what has been happening at the border. I find it disgraceful disappointing and abhorrent to say the least. I also do not even want to consider this as a Dem vs Rep issue or represent it in that way, however I do feel it's right to point out what I see as the biggest reason we have gotten to where we are right now. I find myself questioning why there hasn't been any immigration reform in the past 30 years. Not a single bill has been brought forth and passed in order to make changes to a desperately broken and lacking system that puts thousands upon thousands at risk trying to get in. I asked myself why both parties haven't been able to come together to effect any sort of change and a huge part of this answer and what the Democratic Party doesn't want you to know is that an increase in legal immigration and vast immigration reform threatens one of their lifelines in a major way- Unions. Unions have a stranglehold on a low skilled labor base in this country and immigration reform threatens that stranglehold. It's the same stranglehold, that while paying lip-service to reform and the plight of immigrants and immigrant minorities, has caused The Democratic Party to drag their heels in a serious way for the last 30 years (16 of which they had the opportunity themselves to effect change and the rest the opportunity to come to the table in a fair way). Both parties are guilty of paying allegiance to a special interest rather than what's right for our country. It just so happens that in this case Unions are the pressure hose down the throat of Democrats. I find this very troubling given the rhetoric the Democratic Party has used in regards to immigration reform. They are fearful of losing Union support and conversely, alienating their minority voters. They are walking a fine line and trying to keep everyone happy and they are misrepresenting themselves in order to accomplish this and it is also therefore in their best interest to keep anything in regards to immigration as status quo and this has been our biggest rode block to any kind of viable policy reform. I'm not just throwing shade to the left here- there's plenty of shade to throw in all directions including the right (keep reading for that) and even to myself. But if I'm going to address an issue and try to influence anyone to act I have to do that with what I see as a responsibility to explain my point of view and any conclusion that I've come to. I do not want to misrepresent myself in my call to action against Family Separation, and I continually found it bothersome that our number one roadblock to immigration reform has not been mentioned or even alluded to in anything I've read at all in social media over the course of the last few weeks.
Family Separation isn't just a current problem at the border even though that's where it's cut is the deepest right now. Family Separation has been a long hard tough reality in regards to illegal immigration for far too long- the father who comes in search of a better life and to send money back home but due to not having any status can no longer see his children. The grandmother who is left behind. The son who needs a new way to try and support his family while creating better opportunity for his own future generations and the list goes on. Because of a lack of reform people are forced to enter this country illegally which in and of itself rips them from their families because without status they can never return and be assured re-entry. If any good will come from this it is that a year from now we will likely see new bills being signed into action. It saddens me, and makes me feels ashamed that for years while this has been going on no one, not one of us has sounded a single horn really. Not until a crisis is purposely created on the backs on children. Is this really what it had to take? Nothing ever gets done until suddenly there is a public outcry, panic, and crisis and I think we all know that what has happened at the border was a shameful, purposeful tactical move to create just that. I look to myself for not caring enough about this until babies were being ripped from their mother's arms. The rest of us should also feel the weight of this by not speaking out sooner. I can't even mention my contempt for Trump's choice while wracking my brain to think of another way to create such vast change in such a short period of time and although I come up short on ideas his intentions remain completely abhorrent to me for many reasons. THE END NEVER JUSTIFIES THE MEANS no matter what our current reality or situation is. The Republican Party may gain the credit for reform in history books however the stain they will leave on themselves for using children to achieve their means will never fade. Not in history books or in the minds of any American with a conscience. It completely contradicts what their own agenda for reform is after. Hopefully this move to force action will mean easier, non-capped entry for anyone wishing to make a better life for themselves. This will mean that businesses will be more likely to keep operations domestic since they can draw upon a worldly base for employment. It will be a merit based system like Canada and every other country in the world, but because of that the people who wish to come here will also be afforded better and more bountiful opportunity than ever before. Not only that but being granted status means they can be issued a lot of the same privledges and freedoms as other Americans such as the ability to come and go. We can put a massive dent in our problem of human trafficking and its many horrors. I just wish so hard that this didn't have to come at the cost it did. Something that I've always hoped for and had a vision of has been tainted by such a cruel and barbaric act. Are there worse offenses being carried out all over the world? Yes, of course, but that doesn't give us the right to abandon our values and embrace ANYTHING just to get a job done. This is what sickens me. That we as Americans stay silent until we are pushed too far out of our moral zones. We should have been advocating for the thousands and thousands of people forced to try and come here in the most deplorable conditions suffering injustices, trafficking, separation from family and even risking death in order to try and get in, and all because of a backwards immigration policy that suits no one except a select few with a vested interest in not having competition from a new labor base. Maybe my view won't be popular. Or maybe some just not willing to accept the flaws in their own parties. Democrats give up your indebtedness to unions and Trump, how dare you do such a thing to achieve your means. And shame on all of us for not speaking up sooner!
After thinking, talking and reading through all the who's, what's, how's and why's, I've decided the most important question I could ask myself, as an American but especially as a parent was "is this right? Is this ok to bring about change?" And the answer was a hard NO. Around the very same time that I became a United States citizen I also became a mother and since becoming a mother I can tell you this- I could withstand all the physical torture in the world and endure ANYTHING if it meant saving my child. But take my child away from me and I die the most slow and painful death I could possibly think of. It is worse than any physical torment I could ever conjure. I would wish it on no one, no matter their circumstances. This can not be part of our process ever (obviously excluding normal circumstances of endangerment, abuse, or committing an actual punitive crime). If you struggle with where you sit politically, or if you think that because you vote one way that you also need to be loyal to all that that party does and says, please understand that you can still align yourself to the right or left AND simultaneously call for what’s right. No one party or president will get it right, or do right by us all the time so let's not pretend that just because you are “this” or “that” or voted “this way” or “that way” that you now have to cement yourself to all that that party does. This goes way beyond Dem vs Rep, it’s Right vs Wrong and yes, a lot of the time both of those terms can be a bit blurry, but not in this case. Let these children’s cries for their mothers transcend your own politics. My best advice for anyone feeling “traitorous” to their political affiliation by saying something- don’t be traitorous to your own heart first and foremost. I would consider myself to be more of an independent than anything in terms of the political spectrum so maybe it’s easier for me to do so. I’m used to straddling the fence and defending fiscally conservative politics while also embracing socially liberal ones. There is no party that I truly fit into in all regards and I suspect that there are a lot of others like me out there. So rather than trying to sort out who’s right and who’s wrong and who wrote what law and who didn’t and who enforced what- just think about this issue independently of all that if it makes it easier. Throw out all the bipartisan bullcrap and ask yourself how you truly feel about people who are trying to come to this country having their children taken from them for the crime of wanting a better life. Ask yourself if you've ever felt ok with people having to cram themselves into vans and hide subjecting themselves to terrible life threatening conditions or having to knowingly or not knowingly submit to slavery/ trafficking to get in to the United States. If you're answer is that you are uncomfortable with all of the above then now is the the time to speak up to solve the atrocity that has been perpetrated at our border and to create enough pressure to solve the atrocities that people have been suffering for decades trying to come to the US. We can't just stop our outcry after all these children are returned to their parents. We need our voices to continue until we've a system in place that is fair and and that makes sense and that eliminates the "need" for incarceration. We need to put enough pressure on both sides so they can come to an agreement for reform. In the meantime there are still children separated from their families and it doesn't seem clear yet what will happen in these scenarios so these families need help in being reunited. If you feel like you want to help but feel helpless or like you aren't even sure where to start- below are a few ways you can help families who are still separated.
I think when people feel helpless they tend to also be quiet, but if our President signing the executive order against Family Separation tells us anything it's that another great thing about America is that when its people speak, and what's being spoken is true and right, the powers that be will listen. So make your voice heard, Be part of the voice against Family Separation and let’s not let the noise quiet until we are sure every child is returned to their parent’s arms and that this practice will never happen again through significant policy change.
WAYS TO HELP:
1) Donate to the "Still We Rise Auction" or bid on items you like! This Auction will take place on instagram on July 2nd to July 9th. All proceeds will support RAICES.
2) Call your representatives. Tell them your thoughts and what you hope to see change.
3) Write letters to your representatives, congress, the President himself!
4) Purchase the TOGETHER tee. 100% of the proceeds go to RAICES.
5) Create your own fundraiser! Sell baked goods, lemonade etc. Or do a car wash and donate your proceeds.