Monday, August 31, 2009
In Seven Days You Can Help Defeat Anti-Immigrant Bigotry
"Time is of the essence and we should use it wisely. Instead of writing what I think of anti-immigrant bigotry I’ve decided to use this week to take action. Below I’ve outlined an action for each day of the week. You can take a bite out of bigotry in less than five minutes a day! Let’s all join together and redeem the soul of America!"
A foreigner. Gina who has been in this country since she was 14 months old. Months. Gina, who graduated Valedictorian, ran cross country, Interned at a bank, and goes to Santa Clara University. A foreigner. Gina, who danced ballet, who is a major in American Politics, who as a child loved macaroni and cheese. A foreigner.
This thought just doesn’t check in my mind. It’s like I am trying to place a cube block into a circle slot. It does not make sense no matter how hard I try.
What can I tell her? That this feeling of being an outsider will pass? That the nagging feeling, the one that tells you don’t belong anywhere, is temporary?
Should I tell her that as you get older, and the more marginalized you become, the worse it gets? How it seems as if more and more you are becoming detached from the culture you grew up in, the culture you love, only to be left with a muddled identity crisis?
How do I tell my younger sister, that despite the fact that she feels 100% American, she will never be 100% American?
“Thanks to this shit, we feel like outsiders everywhere. It’s not you”
About one year ago I moved back to San Jose. I had gotten a call about a job prospect the night before, and drove up that following morning. The “interview” went well. “Do you speak English” yes. Ok you’re hired.
It was a warehouse position, and there were a total of four of us hired. A guy my age Just in from Guadalajara, A man in his 40’s from Mexico City, a 30 year old drunkard from god knows what part of Mexico, and a 30 something Ex -Con USC from San Jose.
The job was to last two weeks. It consisted of packing 40 pound SAN servers into cardboard boxes and then loading the boxes into stacks (2 wide x 8 high) on pallets, wrapping and tying the pallets and loading them into trucks. One person, one pallet. This was the work, and it was done from 8am to 6pm. Non stop, except for the 30 minutes we got for lunch.
While we worked, the four of them chatted, the older gentleman from Mexico City talked about his days as a carpet cleaner in Sunnyvale, while the guy from Guadalajara told us how he was a taxi driver back “home” but gas prices were killing his work. They asked about me. I was vague and rude. “Where are you from?” I’m from San Jose. “Why is your English so good?” I’ve been here a long time. “What do you do?” I work and you should too.
At first I would try to keep my mind busy. I spent my time thinking about derivatives, physic problems from the past or trying to look at the manufacturing process on the floor and see what I could improve. I even attempted to read my old text books at lunch time.
Yet I grew angry. At them. For coming here. For making the choice to cross, while I had no choice. At the ex-con. For taking his birthright for granted. At me. For slowly letting go. Towards the end of the two weeks, I was resigned. If this was what I was going to do, be a warehouse day laborer, a mojado, a wetback. Then so be it. No more shaving. No more worrying about how I looked. No more thinking. Just work. Keep your head down. and take it.
But it’s hard.
It’s hard because I am not a mojado. Because I did not make that choice. Yet I don’t feel American. Because I am only partially recognized by the country I love. So what am I?
this brings us to my next post.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
"Imagine you are a child and your parents tell you the family is moving.
You may not want to go, and you probably don't fully understand why your parents want to leave in the first place.
But what choice do you have? You're just a kid.
So you go with your family.
Years later, you discover your family entered the country illegally. You also realize you and your family could be deported at any time.
But you've grown up in this new country. You've made friends. You've gone to school. You may have joined the school band or sports teams or even been elected class president. This is your home.
So you continue on and find a way to go to college. It's expensive and you make sacrifices, like nearly all college kids do, but for you there is no guarantee it will be worth it.
Sure, you can get the degree. But will you be able to use it?
This is the predicament for hundreds of young people, who through no fault of their own have an "illegal" status.
Comprehensive immigration reform is a huge, controversial issue that is likely to stagnate for years.
But there is a piece of it that could be sliced away to help these young people.
It's called the DREAM Act and it needs to become a reality as quickly as possible.
Under the DREAM Act only certain people who meet the criteria would qualify for conditional permanent resident status, meaning they could stay in the country legally for six years.
During that time, they would be able to work, drive and go to school on the same terms as other Americans.
They would not be eligible for Pell Grants or certain other federal financial aid grants. But they could apply for student loans and federal work study programs.
After the six years, they would be granted unrestricted permanent residency status as long as they didn't commit any crimes and didn't take lengthy trips abroad. They also must have either served in the U.S. armed forces for two years or graduated from a two year-college or vocational school or spent two years studying for a higher degree.
This proposed legislation is narrow enough to apply only to those illegal immigrants who entered the country as children, attended school and are on their way to becoming model citizens.
To qualify, the children must have entered the U.S. before their 16th birthdays and have lived in the country for at least five years. They need to have a high school diploma or its equivalent, or been admitted to college or some other institution of higher education.
Critics will say the DREAM Act is an end run around immigration reform. But it really isn't. It applies only to certain individuals who were too young to know they were breaking the law when they entered the country.
Some critics also might say the DREAM Act will attract even more illegal families to the United States. But that's not a certainty.
There are a variety of reasons people try to sneak into the U.S. Primarily, it's to find work.
And they usually get it.
They work in the fields and the factories and in menial jobs for low pay that most other Americans aren't desperate enough to want.
The United States has created a net of problems by not enforcing its immigration laws, and innocent children end up getting tangled in an unfair and flawed system.
U.S. laws are ignored to keep a cheap labor force. The country then welcomes all children into its education system.
We use tax money to educate illegal immigrant children through high school, allow them to earn college degrees and then offer no way for them to stay in the country legally. Should we send them away so another country can reap the benefits of their knowledge, skills and talent?
Where's the sense in that?
For most of these illegal students, going "home" means going to a country where they feel like a foreigner. Many don't have a support system to help them, as their family has moved away.
And if they are deported or voluntarily return to their homeland, under the current law they must wait 10 years to apply to re-enter the United States. Then they are put on a waiting list.
For the most part, these students are exactly the kind of hard-working, determined young citizens the country needs. Their lives shouldn't be put on hold because they were too young to know they were breaking national laws.
The DREAM Act would help them achieve their goals, and it would help keep the U.S. from wasting its educational investment.
Washington's two senators support the bill. U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings told participants at a recent town hall meeting that the issue ought to be part of a comprehensive reform package.
Immigration laws are in desperate need of an overhaul, but these deserving young people easily could grow old waiting for that to happen.
This is a piece of immigration reform that is doable. Hastings and the rest of Congress should get behind it."
Saturday, August 29, 2009
It seems that King Minuteman Mr Gilchrist is thinking its not worth being "patriotic" a racist any more
But Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist said he doesn't hold much hope for the movement, especially from what's left of his group after years of infighting.
"The Minuteman movement has lost its mojo because of all this delusional mentality that has gotten into the movement… In our side of the argument they are all attacking each other," Gilchrist said, alluding to his legal wrangling with Coe and other former allies -- some who have formed new groups.
The slow disintegration of the Minutemen, he says mirrors the movement in general.
"I think amnesty will pass," he said. OCregister.com
Friday, August 28, 2009
I've made many in my life. Some big, some small, some old, some recent. The thing about mistakes is that they are opportunities to learn and grow.
So for the time at hand, I will head forward and analyze the mistakes I've made. So that they will turn into lessons and result in growth. Hopefully I can learn from them this time so that they may not be made in the future.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I only had a few customers to deal with today and was even offered a cup coffee by one who lives in Austin Texas, because i found a way to back up her files on her corrupt Hard drive. I decided to take it easy, since it'd been a long and busy weekend. Pacing myself on my daily work tasks which consist of mindless data entry, repairing countless units, helping the warehouse, calling the shipping discrepancies ect.
As i though about registering for school, the work bell rang (yes we have a bell, it's that "charge" tune) and i ran to the door like a middle school kid on a Friday afternoon. On the drive home Traffic was not unbearable, and I felt the sun in my skin, warm and welcoming. I knew right away it was going to be a bike ride day.
it took 30 seconds to get to the apartment, get my bike out and get on the road. The breeze in my face, and the feeling of freedom and relief. Still not used to the road bike and how it handles, but i made my way amongst the crowds of students on the SJSU campus. All of them weaving and scurrying to get to class.
Like a ton of bricks, nostalgia hit me. I stopped, got off the bike and went into the student union. I remembered how at night i would come here in between by 5-7pm and 8-10pm classes and do homework, eat dinner (homemade tuna sandwiches) or if i was fortunate take a nap on those most comfortable long benches.
walking with my bike, i went past the engineering building. Students walking to the elevators in the lobby, going to their classes or labs. i stepped in for a sec. Just to smell the building again. It smelled the same. Ah the scent is a combination of a hospital, movie theater and books.
Back on the bike. riding back home. I though "next time, do not, do not ride through campus" too emotional.
The room mate greeted me, "hey asshole, i got some wine, want some?" i had a glass. It was cheap 2 dollar wine.
Later that night/next day i had another 1.5 glasses.
And, America, these kids believe in us–that, if we knew, we would not do this to them.
But I don’t believe that. I think we do know and we do it anyway.
And I find that so upsetting.
To put it mildly.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
It's almost two A.M. on august 25th 2009. I'm sitting in bed, thinking of everything and nothing. thoughts are flashing in and out. won't let me rest. Mainly about how things often turn out, and how we as people sometimes aren't strong enough to endure them.
It seems ages, when i first started talking on DAP. A group of us. optimistic about the future. about our lives. DREAM. Making plans. road trips. flights. visits. laughs.
Time's gone by. things have changed. people come and go. promises made. agendas changed. Loves that have come. friends made.
Friends with an unspoken bond. an understanding. and a respect. It seems ages, when i met Mark. when our transition from digital to human occurred. Since then, four times. each making that bond stronger than the last.
Funny how things work out. As strange as it sounds. I met a person on an online forum and now consider him one of my closest friends. And as he moves to another state to go forward, i cant help but feel a sadness in my heart.
still i'm thankful. that despite this fucked up reality we both live in. some how two American foreigners were brought together by their lack of an identity.
Mark. If you read this. I wish you the best brother. you are truly someone i look up to. for having such courage to take your life into your own hands.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Hi (insert repair center name here) this is Gabriel speaking, how may i help you?
"yes hi I am looking for (co worker name) is he available?"
Oh im sorry ma'am, he is out on lunch, he should be back in about ten minutes, can i help you with something?
"oh well i wanted to speak with (co worker), but can i stay on hold with you, i cant hang up i might not get signal again"
-Customer then proceeds to inform me she is 67, from South Carolina and that she cannot get on the internet with her laptop. i help her trouble shoot her wireless connection and get her back online.
"thank you Gabriel"
-she then proceeds to chat with me about random things. And the conversation takes an awkward turn.
" Gabriel, do you know what is going on in this country right now?"
errm. no ma'am
"well this president is trying to make our country in to a nazi state. have you heard that they want all seniors to register for voluntary euthanasia training?"
(oh man) oh wow, no ma'am im not really too up to to date with the news
"yeah, it is a shame, we need to fight this. Did you hear about the energy proposals?...i would have to buy a new house!"
-this goes on for about five minutes
"and the worse part Gabriel is that it's not only this president. But the Illegals are ruining our country too! they just keep on bringing their diseases and gangs...."
( i kinda zone out)
"Gabriel, i want you to email me so i can keep you in my mailing list and send you information about these issues"
I can't give out my email ma'am it's against company policy. but (coworker) is back if you wish to speak with him.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
My father came home from a visit to the lawyer. "so if you got married, it would be only 3 months before you got your Social and conditional residency."
"It would have to be real"
yeah. i know.
My cousin met a nice man, fell in love and married. I know of a Dreamer in texas that married his college sweetheart, they are now having a baby and he is an Petroleum Engineer and a USC.
I was never big on marriage. And i haven't had a normal dating life.
Three months. that is 1.25% of the amount of years i have lived in the US.
The frustration comes from feeling so powerless and out of control.
Not in control of my life and not in control of my circumstances. Ohh
how I long for the feeling of normalcy. To not know what I know and be
oblivious to that which is outta my reach. Window shopping is never
fun. Neither is living your life that way. Bleh.
We are not alone in our feelings of despair and fear.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Ju is from Korea. He was brought here (along with his sister) at a young age by his single mother, to escape the financial crisis of South Korea. He is a tall and lanky young man, with a deep voice and a mischievous grin. And although he seems jovial and goofy, one look into his eyes will tell you that this young man of 20 carries a great weight and sadness.
The more time I've spent with Ju the more i get to see how tenacious and focused he is. He set his mind on becoming the Student Body President of his college, and he was elected. Recently he was chosen for a very competitive undocumented student internship. He goes to school full time, and yet finds ways to make time to advocate for undocumented youth. Not long ago he told his story to Speaker Nancy Pelosis's aides and staff.
What amazes me most about Ju is his selflessness. On the drive back from a recent outing to Stanford, Ju told me the story of how he began to cry as he told his story in the offices of Pelosi. He said he was so choked up he almost couldn't talk.
"But i had to man, I mean i need to tell my story for those of us who cant."
There was one part of the conversation that stuck with me. Ju was telling me about the other fellow undocumented students who spoke. How some only had one meal a day, of rice and bread and then Ju said, "I am lucky, I can have two meals, even if sometimes I am still hungry."
Please help Ju
Please Help Undocumented Students
Please call your congress people and senators and ask them to pass the DREAM Act.
Not in 2010, Not in 2011 but NOW
I've been clinging on. holding on to a feeling for the past two months. Refusing to face the reality. Don't get me wrong, I see it. I see the logical side, the pragmatic path, but i have (been up to this point) reluctant to take it.
Maybe it was my fear of loneliness, or insecurities, or who knows, that kept me attached to these feelings. Strong feelings that no matter what, refused to let go. But it has slowly become clear that it is no longer healthy to continue this way. I must let this pass, I must learn from it, i must let it heal, i must let go.
My friend Ana put it best
"endings are beginnings"
Thursday, August 13, 2009
During these drives, i would often look out the passenger side window and drift off into a nice day dream about the future. My future as a successful engineer, with all my undocumented issues gone. I would picture myself coming home in my BMW 323, to a 2 story town house and cook dinner while the TV was on. In retrospect these dreams where all materialistic, and not to substantive. But they were just that dreams. hopes for a better future and a better lifestyle.
As i got older, my priorities began changing. I realized that i don't want to be consumed my material needs as much as i used to, and that i don't want to be stuck in a lab from 9 to 9. However the hopes of me exercising my degree have not faded, i just want a bit more than money.
So now, when i get the chance i day dream that i will be a great math teacher, inspiring youth to pursue careers in in science and engineering, or just to follow their dreams. I dream of being able to travel to different countries and immerse myself in the culture, months at a time. I see myself, in a modest home, and with a family. My past finally behind me and my future bright ahead of me.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
It seems that my original speculation was right. Yesterday Obama announced that the immigration debate would begin in the fall and that there would be an early vote in the spring of 2010. In a way this is good news, because he is committing to a certain timetable. However, he had committed to passing such reform in his first year in office, so I guess I should take this with a grain of salt. My worries, fears and concerns are that since 2010 will be an election year, then many of the congressmen and senators will not have the backbone to pass such reform and that once again our dreams and hopes will be dashed.
I’m pretty much tired of this game, where we are told to once again hold our breaths, and put our lives on hold for another year, with the promise that “next year” will be the year. For many of us, this fabled “next year” is nothing than a dream, a carrot, dangling in front of us. Taunting us with the promise of a better life. Of an existence and acknowledgement which we all yearn for.
I know for the past few months I have let my mind and worry take a hold. It is hard to continue to wait for “next year” year after year. But I hope, I pray, I yearn that this is it. I will do my best to keep my head up, my resolve strong and my hopes strong.
After all its like my friend Fernando said, “we’ve been waiting for 20 years, what’s another 4 months?”