In the Shadow of the American Dream (Conclusion)

This is the conclusion of my interview with Daniella P.  It is my sincere hope that this series helps readers to see the plight of undocumented people from a more empathetic perspective.    

MI:  I honestly don’t know if I could have done what you did, and went through what you had to go through to get back here.

DP: If you had children, or a reason to do it, you could and you would. That’s what kept me going. That is how I was able to pull through it. To be honest with you, if I didn’t have children who needed me, I don’t think I would have made it. I could just as easily have died trying to get here like so many people do. I just kept thinking of my children, how much they needed us to be here for them, and that is what gave me the strength to keep going.

MI: Do you think there’s any truth to what some people believe that undocumented people take jobs away from American’s who need work?

DP: People in this country, who are born and raised here with the rights of citizenship that comes with it, they often seem to take it for granted or feel as if this country owes them something. This is the reason why many immigrants are such hard workers. They are trying to prove they are worthy, if given the chance to stay here. They want to show that they can be productive citizens contributing to this country. In Mexico, as hard as you work to prove yourself, you can only do so much, without connections you can only go so far. There is so much (rampant) job discrimination. Ageism in Mexico starts at 30. To them, you are all ready old. Add to that,  it’s who you know in order to get hired at most places. Tell me who you know, and I will let you know who you are. So people like me just want an opportunity, often we don’t even get that much in our country.  That’s what America is supposed to be, That’s what America is supposed to be, for everyone. The land of opportunity.

It’s sad but do you know that when I see homeless people on the side of the road begging, I wish I could trade places with them. NOT so I can beg and get handouts, but just to have the right and privilege to be here in this country without fear of deportation hanging over my head. On a daily basis, unconsciously, you feel persecuted. You feel the threat of the laws of immigration hanging over your head. You learn  to live with it, but it never goes away. Recently in America there have been incidents where people who lose their jobs seem to lose their minds.  Someone who is fired in this country might get angry, go home get a gun, come back and blow away his former boss and other innocent people. I don’t anyone who would do that. The people I know, including myself. Would just go look for another job. Even if it’s sweeping the streets,  if that’s the only job we can find, we’ll do it.

MI: How has the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” changed things for you?

DP: It was a miracle for us, it gave us an option, at last there was hope! I love and appreciate President Obama so much for what he did for us. With that one act he helped millions of people like me to be able to relax and have more faith that things can and will change. Maybe not us, at least our children have a chance right now. I’m telling you, before this we were all so desperate to find an answer to the problem. My 20 year old son was really upset, it’s harder for them. They grew up here, went to school and started college. Played sports, studied hard, stayed out of trouble. BUT, they don’t have the same rights as their peers. They understand why, but it’s still SO hard for them to accept it. People don’t realize, our kids, the undocumented ones, can’t even make small mistakes that kids that age usually do. When they were teenagers we had to constantly remind them to always be extra careful. Especially to watch who they hung around with. Even if they weren’t doing anything to get into trouble, we wanted to be sure they knew that the people you are around can get into trouble and you can be held accountable for their actions, just for being with them. I told my kids “Hey, your friends’ parents can come and get them out of trouble, WE can’t do the same for you. They will not only keep you if you get in trouble with the law, they will most likely deport you.”

MI: You have been through a lot. You came back to this country. You went through hell to  get  here. Now, what plans do you have for the future?

DP:  I came back here because I felt I had to. We hoped for the Dream Act to be passed, but it hasn’t happened. Then this new law President Obama has ordered (The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) came out of the blue. My fondest hope is that one day, who knows maybe soon, there will be understanding and a pardon for the way I entered this country. Our only sin, is to be desperate enough for a better way of life that we were willing to risk everything, including our lives for a chance to have it. Yes, we broke the laws to get here and in staying here we are outside the laws.  I don’t think people want to break the law, they feel it’s the only way.  I am hoping that soon there will be people in power who understand we simply need new and better laws so that good, decent, hardworking people who ordinarily would be law abiding can come here and find a better way of life.