Last week, as I nursed Pau with one hand and messed with my phone with the other, I was delighted to see my Facebook stream blowing up with President Obama's announcement that his administration will stop deporting young undocumented immigrants. As an immigrant who was brought to the U.S. by my parents when I was nine years old, this issue is particularly important to me. My family and I were lucky enough to never lose our status in this country and have now become American citizens; but that's all we were: lucky. We didn't do anything special, we didn't "stand in line" like the opponents of immigration reform so ignorantly suggest (there is no line, by the way), we were just fortunate to emigrate from Cuba and automatically receive political asylum when we entered the United States. But I wonder, would my parents have done the same thing if we had been born in Guatemala or El Salvador? Would they have brought my brother and I to this country even if a path to citizenship wasn't guaranteed?
Yes. If they believed that coming to the U.S. was the best thing for our future, then yes, I think they would have brought us no matter what.
And what about me? I've been thinking about this long and hard since Obama's announcement. What if my children were born in a place where they didn't have access to healthcare, where there was no chance for them to get a decent education, where I couldn't provide for them financially no matter how hard I tried? What if they were born in a place where they weren't free to speak their mind or vote in a democratic election? Would I bring them across the border? Would I come to the United States even if it meant living here under the threat of deportation?
Yes. Absolutely. I would do it too because I also want what's best for my kids, no matter what.
And the thing is, these kids are what's best for our country. These kids whose parents have sacrificed so much to bring them here are going to be willing to make sacrifices to stay here, whether it's by excelling in school or joining the army or contributing to the economy through hard work. These kids know how lucky they are to live here, not just abstractly, but because they have something else to compare it to. These kids love and are loyal to this country, not because of chance, but because of choice. And these kids would never, in a million years, heckle the president during a press conference.
All they needed was a chance and I'm so glad President Obama has given it to them.