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“Get in line!” I am told. This is quite ironic since “getting in line” is precisely what made me an “illegal alien.” I was brought here legally on an F-2 student visa from Fiji when I was 14 and was legally here until I graduated from high school and wanted to attend college. At 17, my parents helped me apply for an F-1 student visa so I could continue my studies, but unfortunately, in the aftermath of September 11, my student visa extension was rejected.
Why? My parents had filed for permanent residency (I-130) prior to this through my grandmother, who is U.S. citizen, so the immigration service would not grant me a non-immigrant visa to study in the United States. As a teenager, I knew nothing about immigration laws and was at the mercy of my parents.
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Serving at Promigrant.org is not the only thing I do for immigration rights but they cannot possibly publish my whole CV. We discussed and decided to leave out all the work I do for the DREAM Act. I think journalists really like to use my story because it really explicates the flaws in the U.S. immigration system (how trying to do everything legally can still screw you over), not to mention the discrimination that exists against the LGBT community, which is precisely why I am in limbo. I had to fight to put the line about my sexuality back into the story even with length issues. That was my activity on the Day of Silence–to not silence part of my identity.
What I really missed in these pieces was a ‘Latino’ voice. I know we keep saying that immigration is not just about ‘Mexico’ but at least 41% of undocumented students are from Mexico and that fact cannot be ignored. Instead of being ashamed of it or shying away from it and the socio-economic struggles that the particular identity brings, we must embrace it and tackle the hate head-on.
Being a ‘model minority’ face of DREAM gets tiring.
Nick from DAP hits the nail on the head with the following paragraph:
I find it disturbing that in this debate the personal accomplishments of people in this situation are considered important; those factors should be irrelevant. As I read the hate mail that makes it to our in box and the thousands of stories of pain, depression, hiding in plain sight, overcoming, and accomplishment that have been posted on our Web site, I see our struggle for what it is, a fight for human rights.
Mark Krikorian does not even deserve a mention. He resorts to lies, and in this case–the myth of chain migration, to argue against the DREAM Act. The reality is the most DREAM Act students would not be able to adjust the status of their parents or anyone else who is present in this country without proper documentation.
The best statement of the day probably comes from Hiroshi Motomura, a professor at the U.C.L.A. School of Law, who challenges and effectively erases the binaries between legal and illegal:
One of the great myths of immigration law is that the line between lawful and unlawful immigrants is clear and impermeable. The historical truth is that we have periodically granted lawful status to many newcomers, even if there was no immigration category for them and they came here outside the law.
Our immigration law has been able to adapt when strict application of the law would be wrong. We have changed the law to correct the injustices of exclusion based on race. We have reversed the inhumane effects of denying safe haven to refugees who lacked the proper visas. And the law has granted lawful status to many non-citizens who have earned their place in America, even if they first came outside the law.
Our history tells us why any bright line between legal and illegal immigration is a myth of deceptive simplicity. What is simple is not always fair or in our national interest. And what is fair and in our national interest is not always simple.
One of the best pieces on this blog is Documenting The Birth of Illegal Immigration that supplements Motumora’s statements. It deserves a revisit.