One Hot Topic

June 3, 2007 at 1:50 pm Leave a comment

So, the illegal immigration debate is a hot button for many people, particularly in the area of the country where I live and work.  A large number of my students are not in this country legally.  It used to bother me a lot, until I realized that it’s probably not their fault.  In all likelihood, they didn’t choose to break the law; their parents/guardians/whomever did.  And while I still think that’s a huge problem, I am less concerned with “fixing the border” than I am with making sure these children have a shot at a future.

It all started one morning when I was meeting with my team of coworkers and we got around to talking about a particular student that I had in my 4th period U.S. History class last year.  This young man was born in Argentina and emigrated to the United States with his parents as a teenager.  After just a few years, he is not only fluent in English, but he also reads on a junior/senior in college level.  When the discussion turned to where he was going to go to college next year, I learned that he is in the U.S. illegally.  The thing is, he has the brain and the desire to go to college, but he doesn’t have the money to pay for it.  When you’re illegal, you’re not eligible for any kind of financial aid.  But the problem with all of this is that the ticket to getting out of poverty is education.  And if he can’t get an education…it just seems like such a waste.

Another of my students – she’ll graduate next year – wrote a piece for this year’s yearbook.  She eloquently described growing up in Argentina and moving to the United States.  It wasn’t her decision.  And now she wants to go to college – it’s always been her goal – but she’s running into the same problem.  I’ll never forget what she said when she reflected on her childhood dreams:

I never thought I’d be a nobody.

I know that coming here without the proper documentation is against the law, and I understand that there must be penalties for breaking that law just as there are for all the other laws we’ve got.  But I also know that children can’t be held accountable for the wrongs of their parents.

I used to have very black and white feelings on the issue – and I still do, to some degree.  But at this point, I’m much more concerned with the fact that my brilliant, talented young student has been classified as one of “them,” a nobody, just another face in a sea of illegal immigrants.  She isn’t any of those things; I just hope that we can find a way for her to be allowed show it to the world.

This is the article that got me thinking this afternoon.


Entry filed under: Current Events, Education.

It’s time for the final project! David Warlick just embedded my blog in his wiki.

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