2

My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant

Posted on 24.6.11

For those of you who read the New York Times online, as I do, you may or may not have seen the emotional, sincere, and beautifully written essay by Philippino born journalist Jose Antonio Vargas entitled "My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant," published Wednesday and which will be featured in print in this upcoming Sunday's paper.


Although he immigrated to the US in his adolescence, many of his stories speak to me as if they were my own when I lived in the United States, from difficulties in working, studying, and in establishing a network of people to help and people who we had to "come out" to.

There is a big ordeal going on concerning his status since the publication and who knows this sort of thing will strike some sort interest in acting upon the many immigration laws being discussed!

A few quotes that stuck with me...

On Who Undocumented Immigrants Are -

"There are believed to be 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. We’re not always who you think we are. Some pick your strawberries or care for your children. Some are in high school or college. And some, it turns out, write news articles you might read. I grew up here. This is my home. Yet even though I think of myself as an American and consider America my country, my country doesn’t think of me as one of its own."

On the Feeling of Doing Something Wrong -

"This deceit [of using illegal documentation] never got easier. The more I did it, the more I felt like an impostor, the more guilt I carried — and the more I worried that I would get caught. But I kept doing it. I needed to live and survive on my own, and I decided this was the way."

On Not Being Able to Work Althought the Job Was Mine -

"I panicked, thinking my documents wouldn’t pass muster. So before starting the job, I called Pat and told her about my legal status. After consulting with management, she called me back with the answer I feared: I couldn’t do the internship."

Read the full essay here. And for your listening while reading pleasure, my recent discovery of also immigrant to the US, Philippino born, hip-hop/jazz collective Simple Citizens :-)

What do you guys think? After reading the essay, do you have any thoughts on Jose Antonio's story?

Discussion

nickdag.com said...

I caught that story as well, and it's truly fantastic.

There are many tough decisions to be made in immigration policy, but I don't see how this is one of them. Clearly, there needs to be a very reasonable path forward for the millions in this situation. How is this not an easy decision?

I hold these people absolutely no ill will. In fact, they have my utmost sympathy. The problem is not their "deceit". The problem is that the law has failed to reflect reality. These people were and are put in a no-win situation, and absolutely any sane & moral person would make the same decision. God knows I would have done the same given the circumstances.

-nick

.polyana. said...

thanks for the comment nick!

it's definitely a contentious issue. i wish there was an easy solution that would make everyone happy - but unfortunately it's tougher than health care & not something any politician is willing to face =/