Friday, July 6, 2012

Why do we fight against the right for illegal students to continue to learn????

I know many many families who have brought their children here for very legitimate reasons and now the children must fight for the right of a good education. For example, one family owned a ranch in Mexico where they raised cattle. Over time the neighboring farms were sold to those who began using the land for growing a crop of an illegal nature. The gangs started threatening the family until they were forced to flee for their lives. They had family in Texas so they arrived there and later ended up here in Denver. Their daughter fought to learn the language and earned high marks in a very competitive high school. The father and mother accepted any job that they could find including cleaning an office building late at night in order to afford a 500 square foot apartment for their family of four. They were safe and had their family together. As the daughter approached her junior year of high school, the family realized that she was going to be denied a higher education and would end up washing and cleaning for a living just like they did. They made the difficult decision to return to their land in Mexico so that she could continue her education in a country that allowed that. They hoped that time had passed enough that the neighboring farms had new ownership. I remember driving that student home to her humble apartment the day before she had to leave this country. She had lived here for more than half of her life. She was not going “home”.

She could only write me once a month when she arrived there because there was no internet access except in town at a internet cafĂ©.  She wrote that she was hungry for books to read and she feared that she would lose her English skills because there was no library within 100 miles. She told me about walking to school and experiencing abuse and cat calls every day by the local gang members. Her dad had decided to sell out to the area gangs and had to give up raising cattle and began the more illegal farming. Most importantly, her hopes for a higher education were once again dashed because her family did not have the funds for the private college prep schools that led to college in Mexico. She was miserable, afraid and intellectually deprived. I sent her a box of books to read so that she could escape to other places and keep up her English skills. I then didn’t hear from her for 6 months.

The next time I heard from her, she was calling me from Texas. She had run away from home and hired a coyote to get her over to border back into the US so that she could live with her aunt in Texas. She completed her high school education there taking all of the Advanced Placement classes that her schedule would allow. She was able to get accepted to University of Texas at El Paso where she is majoring in English and Education. She is determined to be a teacher to other immigrant students who need the encouragement and support of someone who has experienced the abuse this system has to offer.

In the end, the family lost the ability to stay together, they lost their morals and they lost their hope to have any control over their future. In America, they would have at least still been together and they had children with a strong work ethic who wanted to become hard working professional citizens who would make this country a stronger place. Why do we deny them that right simply because of the circumstances of their arriving here????