“My daughter graduated from college last year, an excellent student, but now she can’t get a job in her degree because she is undocumented. She’s lived here for 21 of her 23 years of life, worked hard in school. But now, there’s no hope without the DREAM Act.”
“He’s a good boy, a good student. But without his immigration papers, he can’t get a professional license.”
Two mothers described to our groups the ceilings forced upon their young adult children, who have lived their whole lives in the US but are undocumented. We’ve heard many stories this week of people being trapped: Three families living on a bone-dry, polluted half-acre that cost them $37,000. One woman telling how she came to the US inside a tire. Trapped. Suffocating.
If you’re undocumented in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, you’re literally trapped. There’s no “spreading your wings and flying” if you are young, and no American dream. Because the DREAM Act has not passed, undocumented students graduating from college cannot be hired. The DREAM Act would grant legal status after 6 years to graduates of US high schoosl who complete a college degree or military service. Undocumented immigrants can’t attain professional licenses. One literally can’t leave the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas because the Mexico border is to the south and 70 miles north, there is an unavoidable police checkpoint, where documents are checked and the undocumented arrested. Most don’t even drive a car because if pulled over, they will be arrested and deported.
Trapped, Sweltering, suffocating. Where is hope? On November 25, 2011, the day after Thanksgiving, 18-year-old Joaquin Luna committed suicide. Joaquin had lived in Hidalgo County, TX since he was 6 months old but was undocumented, and he killed himself in despair because he could not complete his dream of going to college and becoming an engineer.
On our Borderlands trip, we are no longer in Mexico. The conditions described above are specifically US. And the cognitive dissonance it is creating for me is horrible.