By Yartiza Villar
There are many topics that I could talk on and on about. However, two things I’ll always feel strongly about are immigration and the laws surrounding them. There are many arguments one can make, and many of them are somewhat valid. Many people argue that an influx of immigrants will result in a lack of jobs for Americans. The fact is, many immigrants take jobs often overlooked by citizens. They come here, working minimum-wage job, performing manual labor in order to try and build a life for themselves and their families.
People argue that we need to protect our borders from immigrants because they pose a threat to citizens living in the US. We cannot prevent danger by closing out outside forces. We believe that outsiders are our enemies, when in fact your neighbor could be the planner of a mass shooting that will devastate your community. There’s no way of knowing for sure who might pose a threat and so many Americans may pose more of a threat than many immigrants. I’m not arguing that all immigrants are good, but so many of them do not come here with ill-intentions.
There are those who argue that by welcoming immigrants in, we will lose the American Culture. The issue with this logic is that we have seen different cultures introduced into new areas and yet the native culture hadn’t been completely lost. We have seen an increase in diversities, but that doesn’t mean that the American culture will disappear altogether. I am a firm believer that in order for a group of people to grow, they must be open to new ideas and ways of thinking. Cultural blending isn’t the end of the world, and it would certainly welcome many new ideas that could help expand our thinking.
I think the reason that I feel so strongly about this is because of my personal experience. My stepfather is an immigrant, and came here illegally. He met my mother, and they had an immediate connection. Soon enough, he became a second father to me. He cared for my siblings and me like we were his own children. He was a perfect father to us, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. We were all so happy together. We rented a new apartment and moved out of our older, smaller one. We chose new furniture, decorated it, got our first dog, and we felt like a real family.
He came with hopes of finding new work and a new life. He did both. I loved him for the things he did for not only my mother, but me as well. I loved that he would make me a big bowl of soup every time I stayed home sick from school. I loved that he treated our dog like a child of his own. I loved that we would have cookouts almost every weekend in the summer, inviting a bunch of friends and relatives. I loved his sense of humor, and the fact that he never failed to make us smile. I loved his positive energy, and his desire to make our lives as comfortable as possible. I loved that he made my mother happy, happier than I’d seen her in years.
I loved that despite the fact that we weren’t his children by blood, he cared for us like we were his world. But, simply because he wasn’t born here and didn’t have papers, he was sent home. It didn’t matter that he pulled our family together, or that he was like a father to me and my brother. It didn’t matter that he helped my mother find herself again, or that we were a family. What mattered was that he was undocumented, and so they took him out of our lives. I think about him all the time, and just how happy we all were together.
He didn’t have bad intentions. He wanted to be happy and live with his family, just like any person would, immigrant or not. He wanted to build a life he was proud of. He had a dream, and he came here to pursue it. He was the thread that stitched our family together, and once he was pulled out of our lives, we fell apart again. It was hard seeing my mother cry all the time because she could no longer see him every day. It was hard for me to wake up on days I felt sick and know I would no longer have the bowl of soup he made me. It was hard knowing we wouldn’t have those cookouts I had loved. But it was hardest knowing that I would no longer see his smile that managed to brighten our lives every day. I wouldn’t walk into the living room and see him sitting there with our dog on his lap. I wouldn’t hear his loud laugh that seemed to echo in the halls of our apartment. I wouldn’t see the smile in my mother’s eyes as she stood beside him. Instead, I’d see pictures of him and hear his voice through a phone.
The reason I feel so strongly about immigration laws is because they are what tore my family apart. Seeing my mother lose herself a little as she drowned in her sadness made it hard for me to go through each day of my life. As time went on, she found ways to accept it and cope, and with her acceptance came my own as well. I’ve accepted that I can’t just change immigration laws, however my opinion on them will never change.