I try to keep things relatively positive over here at Oh Hello, Love! However, I sometimes blog about the more difficult aspects of life because I think those are the parts of life that reveal much more of our true character. I'd like to think that if one day we were blessed with the opportunity to meet face to face, that you wouldn't be shocked by the person sitting before you. That this blog would have given you a true sense of me. Not just the optimistic, laughing loudly girl but also the deeper, more pensive and sometimes struggling girl, too.
A little piece of that sometimes struggling girl has a heart that breaks for the undocumented immigrants who live in and contribute to this country. And so, while it might break all of the "Good Blogging" rules, I want to share with you all some news and my thoughts on that news. Before commenting (particularly in a negative or hurtful manner), I would invite you to ask yourself the following: 1) Have I done all my research on the topic? Am I as educated on immigration policies as I can possibly be? and 2) Do I personally know someone in this situation?. If your answer to both of those questions is no, then perhaps you may want to consider that you may not have all the knowledge you need to make an informed opinion.
That being said...
President Obama has announced today that he will no longer be deporting DREAM-act eligible immigrants and will grant work permits to some of those who qualify.
This is huge.
But this is not amnesty. And this is not a path to citizenship. It is relief for those who qualify. Requirements include:
1) Having arrived in the U.S. prior to age 16
2) Currently residing in U.S. and with five years of continuous residency
3) A high school diploma, GED or military service
4) No criminal record
5) Be younger than 30 years of age
(For more information, get it right from the source: Department of Homeland Security)
The Obama Administration has deported more undocumented immigrants than any other administration in history. Furthermore, the number of people crossing without papers is also at a record low. If ever there were a time to address the 11.5 million undocumented people in our midst, now would be that time.
It, then, makes sense to begin with those who committed no crime themselves. Those who will be granted relief from deportation are people who came as children, many of whom were so young that they were unable to even voice a simple "no" had they been asked their opinion on whether to cross or not. Assuming of course that they had the mental capacity to understand such a complex system. These, too, are students and servicemen, ready and willing to make contributions to our society. Many have put themselves through college.
My having been born in the United States was and continues to be a gift. I often wonder had I not been given such a gift, would I meet the guidelines set forth in this announcement? Would I have had the self-motivation to work full-time and go to school full-time to get a degree I wasn't sure would do me any good in the end? Doubtful. Would I have fought for the freedom of a country which continually pushed me to the margins and refused to recognize me as a contributing member? Definitely not. The truth is, had I not been born here, I doubt I would make the cut.
I think that when we begin to see U.S. citizenship as a gift rather than a right, our reactions to others may change. Truthfully there are very few of us who did anything to deserve our citizenship, other than having been born within certain geographic boundaries. And really, we have our parents to thank for that. And perhaps their parents before them. But for others who were perhaps not quite so lucky on the geographic front, this may be their one chance at a decent life. A life that you and I often take for granted.
So for those who have worked hard, put themselves through school, fought for our continued freedoms, committed no crimes while here and paid taxes, it just seems like the right thing to do to extend a reprieve. Perhaps not the easy thing, but the right thing.
If one day you found yourself in their situation, would you not wish and pray and hope every moment of every day for that same outcome?
Ultimately it comes down to that age-old kindergarten wisdom: Treat others as you wish to be treated.
For more on my thoughts on immigration and freedom, please read: The table and Freedom and Fireworks.
For stories of mixed-status married couples living aboard due to lack of immigration reform, please read: Corin in Exile, The Real Housewife of Ciudad Juarez, and Us, After America.
And of course, to get it all straight from the horses mouth, please read: USCIS, DHS, and ICE. (If you don't know what all those stand for without thinking, I urge you to do some research on immigration policies.)