A headline in my local newspaper spurred this post.... "Fresno State University Student Body President Reveals He Is An Illegal Immigrant", yes it is true Mexicans go to college and do exceedingly well. Pedro Ramirez, 23 graduated from his highschool as a Valedictorian and went on to FSU. He is pursuing Poly Sci and Agriculture as his dual majors. And apparently he did all of this despite the fact that he is an illegal alien.....like being from Mexico means you only come to the US to work in the fields, or in a Mexican restaurant. I have mixed emotions about this situation, I am Mexican American. My Grandfather came here from the same town Pedros family came from, Jalisco Mexico. My grandfather came to the US and did so legally, by coming here to work and then sending for his wife and family later. He wanted to make a better life for his 10 children, and he did. He was a contractor for the Santa Fe Railroad and did fieldwork, all of the children except my Mother who was the youngest did this backbreaking work. Sons served in WWII and Korea, they were proud to be Americans. My Uncle Manuel died in the War. My Grandfather owned property and did well for being an uneducated man. All of my aunts and uncles spoke perfect English but my grandparents never learned it fluently. They were all successful productive members of society who went on to have their families. They were never on welfare, or received assistance.
I am feeling torn because while I applaud the efforts of Pedro to make a good and positive impact on the world it leaves me feeling, like maybe my daughter who is going to Community College may be passed over for something she, as a legal citizen is entitled to. In the state of California there is a law that allows illegal immigrants to receive aid for college. Pedro claims he did not know that he was an illegal alien until he began to apply for college. I can see that as viable. But when he did find out he continued to keep it a secret well into his college career until this week when an email was leaked regarding his status.
Do I blame illegal aliens for the state of the state in California, in debt up to our necks and no liferaft in sight? No I blame a bunk immigration system and the great governors of this fair state. You know the thing is I consider myself an American, not a Mexican American but just American. So many people that I run into in my daily life, Mexicans from Mexico inparticular think I should speak perfect Spanish because my last name is Gonzales. I speak "spanglish" enough to get by, what they don't know is that I was not taught Spanish because my mother who went to Catholic School was punished with a wrap of the ruler on the hands if she spoke Spanish. It is irritating that they complain about me when I am driving them on the bus, because they think I don't understand what they are saying but I do and it is only when I talk to them in my "spanglish" that they smile and call me Mija.....they don't like my country music, and they don't like that I don't wait for them if they are running for the bus, look I don't wait for anyone if they are not at their stop. Hey I rode the bus for 2 or 3 years and I got left plenty. My perception is that they feel that I think I am better than them or just don't get any of the struggles they have had. Funny human struggles are all the same, does not matter what your color is.
I guess some of my bias comes from being the victim of identity theft, 15 years ago the IRS came after me for 30,000 dollars in back taxes, because an illegal alien had bought my stolen birth certificate and Social Security card. This was pre-internet and it took me one year to prove to the IRS that this Krisann Gonzales was 9 months pregnant and in college, not working at some cannery in Georgia. I had actual pictures of the alleged Krisann Gonzales and signatures of "her" name, which were nothing like mine. So how is it that HR reps of these companies in question went ahead and accepted her proof of who she was without question? Sad but true big corporations and small alike do not care.
I am all for the American Dream, believe me. What I do not agree with is catering to a set group of people. If I went to China they would expect me to speak Chinese right? So why are forms in Spanish and the city signs (locally) have Spanish as the bolder print and English in smaller print. Why are kids in school learning in Spanish, that is why they are failing state mandated tests, these tests are made for English speakers! Sad but true my child who is part Mexican was being taught in Spanish when she first enterred kindergarten and did not know what the heck was going on, even sadder my friends daughter whose last name is Martin was put in a bilingual class and she has blonde hair and blue eyes... So are we catering to a certain group of people? I think so. I hate to sound racist or biggoted because I feel so strongly that if you come to America you should be made to follow the rules that everyone else who is a citizen has to follow. I have had many heated discussions with friends and family and my conclusion is always the same. Making a better life for yourself is an inherent right every man, woman, and child should be afforded. That is after all why our forefathers founded this great country. So what about the illegal aliens who are serving our country, should they be afforded the same benefits and rights as a citizen? So many stickey wickets here. This conversation will go on until the end of time. I will agree that this same group of people who a lot of people love to complain about actually help with the growth of the economy, they work and spend their money,especially locally. I guess the situation is as multifaceted as Pedro is. He obviously want to make a better way for himself, he is a supporter of the DREAM act go to this link to learn more http://www.dreamactivist.org/ this act will create the journey to citizenship for undocumented students and those who serve our country proudly. I can see by what I have read about him that he wants positive change to come from his story. I can also see that he will probably succeed and go on to a great role in politics or advocacy for people in general. I guess it is just the principal of legally being here that gets me. Thanks Grandparents for following your dreams to California.