Tuesday, July 15, 2014

by chance

you with your voices raised and your hands clutching your pocketbooks
for fear of the sea of culture that is not your own
you with your God given rights
asking others to prove their worth
you are undeserving of the splendors for you know not the struggles
if worthiness is what you seek, prove your own
to you a beating heart is not enough
try to wash your hands clean of the havoc provoked on foreign lands
the sins of your father’s may not be your own
but admirable is he who bears them nonetheless
you with your voices raised and pocketbooks clenched tight
see your brother before you, the child at your feet, the beating heart
the gifts you have can be shared
for they are not yours by right but by chance

Saturday, May 24, 2014

My Undocumented Story

When I started this blog I had every intention of keeping up with it regularly, but after a few posts I got lazy and/or discouraged and let a week turn into a month and before I knew it I hadn't posted for nearly two years. I think about it all the time.I think of the things I want to share, the stories that need to be told, and the many amazing voices out there that I want to join.Then I think of my story, the story I don't like to talk about, the one I'm scared to say out loud, the one that brought me closer to this issue than I ever anticipated to be.

I have been attempting to push myself back into this topic, once again making myself close to the immigration issues in this country as well as taking interest in the U.S.-Mexico border relations. I have logged into my blog page several times and sat staring at it, never knowing exactly what to say or even how to say it, everything bouncing around in my mind and no way to put these thoughts into the words I wanted to, so I would simply log back out. Every time I did this I knew I was running away from the one thing that I was most passionate about, hiding because I didn't think my voice was enough to matter. I was also hiding because I was scared of who might figure my story out, the story that only five people in my entire family know, my Mother, Father, Sister, Nana (grandmother), and Nina (godmother) know. I was scared the others would see these things I wrote and look at me differently, they wouldn't understand or worse they would judge me and they would judge my husband.

But recently I saw an amazing film by Jose Antonio Vargas that inspired me. The film Documented is Jose's story as an undocumented immigrant in the United States, he came out and told the country his story, knowing the potential consequences but taking the risk so that his voice could make a difference. This film helped me to see that these stories, no matter how fearful we may be to tell them, do make a difference, they inspire and move people, they take an issue that may seem black and white and fill it with color and life so that our humanity can be recognized. So, here is my story:

We started dating just after I turned seventeen, our second date was his seventeenth birthday party (yes, I'm older). He was different from the boys at my school, he was different from anything I had known really, seemingly a bit of the bad boy type, all punk rock and cool. It wasn't long until I was falling completely head over heels for the boy, he was sweet and bought me cute things like a stuffed animal frog because he knew it was my favorite. But as things started to get a bit more serious I guess he felt the need to be completely honest with me about who he was. One day as we stood on my porch he looked at me sorta tearfully and told me he didn't have any papers, that he wasn't here legally. I was not as thrown off by this as one might imagine to be and I simply looked into his eyes and said, "Don't worry we'll figure it out." and I kissed him goodnight. As I went into my house the magnitude of it all began to hit, this was going to change everything, and by everything, I mean EVERYTHING. My whole life as I had imagined it was being shaken, I knew I was in love with this boy, and I knew this school year I was going to be applying to colleges. All I could think was if I left San Diego he would never be able to come see me, he wouldn't even be able to go to LA without having to risk the checkpoint. Would I tell my parents, should I tell them, no, definitely not. Not that they had strong feelings about the issue or anything, but I knew they would just worry and I didn't want to make anything weird. 

So we went on with life, we tried to keep things normal and stay out of any kind of trouble. The only colleges I applied to were the two state ones in San Diego, I could live at home and get scholarships, and I knew I couldn't leave home and never see him. I went to UCSD, he worked with his dad in an auto body shop, he had a fake Mexican License which scared me to death but driving was the one thing that kept people off his back and kept the questions away. He couldn't go to school, no money and there wasn't really any of that DREAM stuff at the time. He couldn't get any other job because he had nothing but an expired Visa from when we was a baby. We couldn't go anywhere, we couldn't even see an R rated film because he had no ID. Nearly everything he couldn't do, I couldn't do and we lived in constant fear of police or border patrol. He liked to test his limits, driving up to the LA checkpoint and sneakily not switching seats with me so I could drive through it, proving to himself that he wasn't as restricted as he felt. Thank God it was closed that day, I nearly died when he said he passed the last exit before the checkpoint, I felt like I couldn't breathe, if he got caught and they took him away he could never live in this country legally and we would be separated unless I left to Mexico. 

We went on like this for a while and eventually my parents found out his situation, that's what we always referred to it as, the situation. One day while we were with my mom in the kitchen she brought it up, said something along the lines of "but, you have all your papers and stuff, right?" we were deer in the headlights, both speechless. I couldn't even formulate words, half fuming that she would even think to talk about this, and half debating if we could trust her or not. My own mother, if I could trust her!? Of course I could trust her, she wasn't someone who would flip a lid based on this information, but that's what this "situation" does to you. It makes you live in constant fear, analyzing the people you can and cannot trust with information that could destroy your entire world, paranoid if you will, as if border patrol is always lurking right around the corner and someone will give you away at any second. And then he said it, "No." and everything stopped. Now they knew, my parents knew, it felt good but also scary. I finally had my mom to open up to, to cry to, to ask for advice and guidance. My parents were wonderful about it, it didn't change how they looked at him at all, they were concerned and fearful but never judgmental.

I knew he was the one dealing with the status problem, not me, but I lived in constant fear for him. It was hard for me to say "I understand." when all he would have to say back is "No, you don't. You have a social security number." but what everyone couldn't see was that I also didn't have a life here if I wanted to be with him, I was just as limited in many regards. Was it equal? No, but it was just as painful, just as scary. If he was sent back to Mexico, so was I, or we would just lose each other forever. Either way I was facing life-changing consequences as well. The fear of him being deported was almost too much to handle, so we decided the best thing to do was to get married. We searched for lawyers and we saved money. I worked while I was going to school, saving my paychecks, he saved his money from working at the shop and he eventually sold his car and bought an engagement ring. 

We were twenty years old, planning a huge wedding because I have a huge Mexican family and I was the first grandchild that was getting married. We had our wedding in the Church because even though this wasn't really what I had planned or imagined for my life, I wanted to have the big wedding of my dreams at the time. It also looked the best when petitioning for permanent residency for him (details of that process will have to be a whole other blog post). He had worked on another car and sold it to pay for the wedding, we had already set aside the more than $4,000 it was going to cost us in filing fees and lawyer bills. It ended up costing around ten thousand for the wedding, I had to borrow a few thousand from my Nana, but other than that we did it all on our own really. We were determined to get him the papers he needed because every potential opportunity that had come along, like the DREAM ACT, had fallen through. We had no hope in our government, we knew they were all full of empty promises, we knew that the only way to solve it was to fix it ourselves. I was determined for him to have some sort of future in this country, the only country he knew, the place that was his home for nearly his entire life. 

We were twenty, I was going to be starting my third year of college, I was working part-time, we didn't have enough money to get our own place, but we got married. I am sure everyone thought I was pregnant, that would have been the only logical reason as to why two twenty year old, kids essentially, would get married. When it was obvious I wasn't, I'm not so sure what they thought, that we were just crazy I suppose. But we did it, with the support of my five trusted members of my family and his family, he gained legal residency in 2011 and he was able to go out and get a drink on his twenty first birthday with his ID card. It was all worth it in the end. We both have made huge sacrifices in our lives, we both missed out on a lot and we still suffer the consequences of the situation, we both runaway from the topic, and we both try to ignore the fact that it was the main reason why we got married before we could even purchase a beer. It has been nearly four years, I graduated from UCSD with a communications degree and he was able to get a full time job and we have our own place in this world now. But to this day those same five people are the only ones in my family who know, that's how worried about it we still are, that's how difficult it is to share. If they all knew, I'm not sure what that would mean but I have been too scared to find out. So this is step one, this is me telling you and hoping that it means something, hoping that it may touch you, or inspire you, or just make you stop and think for a moment about our immigration system and the ways it needs to be improved, maybe your voice can join in as well. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

President Obama's Immigration Changes- Where to go to Apply for Deferred Action

Recently President Obama made some adjustments to immigration, allowing for undocumented youth to apply for deferred action. Meaning that those who are under the age of 31 and were brought into this country illegally or overstayed their visa have an opportunity to apply for a temporary pass for a two year period and an opportunity to apply for work authorization. The USCIS explains that, "Deferred action is a discretionary determination  to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. Deferred action does not confer lawful status upon an individual" 

Although this law does not create a substantial or lasting solution to the current problem that many youth face, it is a step in the right direction, it provides some hope to a brighter future. For those who may be seeking information on the application process just visit the USCIS website. This provides you with a step by step process to help you collect all documents needed, all the forms you will need to fill out, as well as the mailing and payment process. 

You can also view a video on the process on YouTube.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Something Real

This blog post is about an emotional conversation between a young lady and I. The young lady from the interview is extremely bright, she is strong, she is brave, she is determined, most of all she is admirable. She was an honor student in high school and an athlete, not different from your everyday American teenager. She is currently enrolled in college and has big dreams for her future. When you look at this young lady you would never imagine her to be undocumented. She fits none of the stereotypes of "illegal", but her story is not unique, these so-called "illegals" are quite often children or young adults brought here at very young ages. The young lady from the interview is by far one of the strongest people I have met, she pushes past the difficult situation she is in as she works and hopes for a better tomorrow. She knows what is best for herself and she knows what she wants for her future, she is independent and strong, here this is her story:

(me): Let's begin with the simple questions, how old were you when your parents brought you here?

(interviewee): I was just an infant.

(me): And do you know the whole story of how you got here, or the whole story of your situation"

(interviewee): No, no one ever tells me everything that I want to know, so I don't even know like how exactly I got here.

(me): So when did you find out that you are undocumented?

(interviewee): Well, we were going to LA to visit my uncle, and I think I was in middle school. Before we left my mom started getting really worried and was telling me to say my name was something else and that I was born at some hospital and all this stuff if anyone asked me anything. So I just figured it out on my own, everything just kind of clicked and I realized why she was telling me all this. But no one ever actually sat me down and talked about it.

(me): How did you feel when you realized it?

(interviewee): I was really confused.

(me): When did you realize the severity of it all?

(interviewee): I think it was my freshman year, I started thinking about what it would be like when I got older, when i turned like 17 or 18 and all the things I wouldn't be able to do. It was everything from not going to a rated "R" movie, to driving, to college. I wouldn't be able to do any of it.

(me): Tell me a little about your life, about your daily struggles.

(interviewee): It is really frustrating because you just have to constantly lie, you have to lie non-stop all the time to everyone you know. You have to be telling lie after lie making sure they are consistent, and that you tell everyone the same thing. You just lay in bed at night thinking about all your lies and how to keep building off of them, how to make them sound convincing, making sure they make sense so that no one will question them. It is strange because sometimes you even begin to believe your own lies because you are constantly thinking about them. It is weird because some days you wake up and don't realize that you are illegal and everything is fine and happy, but then when you do realize it you get really sad and it is just really hard.

(me): What about life with your friends, want to talk about that? Do any of them know?

(interviewee): Only two friends know, it is just really hard because that is a lot of pressure to put on someone, and I just don't want to tell them and have them treat me different. I don't want it to come in the way of our friendship, I also get scared that they could use it against me if ever we got in a fight or something. It is just really hard though because whenever they want to do something or go somewhere like a casino or even just a rated "R" movie I can't go, and I just have to make up lies about why I don't have an ID or a birth certificate I can use.

(me): What about school? Does it make life easier or harder?

(interviewee): Both. School makes it easier because it gives me something to do since I can't work. I want to go to school anyway, I want to graduate from college so I am glad I get to go to school thanks to the DREAM Act in California. It is also better because I get an ID from school, so I have some sort of identification to carry. But at the same time it is hard because I don't drive so I have to get dropped off and people ask me why I don't drive. Also I can't get financial aid and people always tell me to get it and ask why I don't have it. I wish I could get it, but the state won't help because that part of the DREAM Act didn't pass. I understand why, and I am fine with it, I mean I don't think it should have to pass, but at the same time I just feel bad for people like me because it isn't like we chose this life you know? And I know I can try to get private scholarships and stuff but  it is always through some groups like La Raza and they want you to join them and I just don't want to be filling out any paper work or anything. It is weird but I just don't want a paper trail of me anywhere, I just get scared.

(me): Any other difficulties in your everyday life that you want to talk about?

(interviewee): Well when you are around other people you just have to be really cautious all the time, you have to learn how to read people, you have to watch every word you say, every move you make, every friend you pick. You just have to constantly watch people, it makes it hard to make new friends because I just don't want to have one more person to lie to or to worry about. You are just always thinking about other people and how the things those people do can affect you and what you do, you have to make sure you are not doing stupid things or risky things with risky people because you don't want to get in trouble.

(me): So you are over 18 right? How does that affect your situation?

(interviewee): Yes, and it is a lot worse for me now that I am older because everyone else around me is doing things I can't do but they expect me to do them because they don't know. They are always asking me questions and it is hard to keep making up lies for why I can't do those things they do. It makes me mad though when I see people my age who don't do anything but they can, it just bothers me because I wish I could do things like work, and people just take it for granted. I hate that people think I am just lazy, I don't want to look lazy, but there is nothing I can do about it, I can't drive, I can't work, and I can only go to certain schools.

(me): And you have a younger sibling right?

(interviewee): Yes, a younger sister, but she was born here so she can do all the things I can't and that makes my situation worse. It makes me look bad because she can drive and work but I can't, so it makes me look even more lazy. I get mad at her because she doesn't even appreciate what she has, she doesn't care about the opportunity she has to do something with her life. It is difficult to see all the things she can do but I can't.

(me): How do you cope with this burden on a daily basis?

(interviewee): Well I use sarcasm a lot, that way people never can tell if I am being serious or joking and they just kind of laugh everything off. It is helpful at avoiding those difficult questions people ask. Also I realized that I have like developed this OCD kind of thing, or like ritual activities I do, I need things done in a certain way and if something throws it off then I might decide not to go out and do something that day because I worry that it was a bad sign that something bad might happen if I go out. It seems so strange but it is like it gives me some say or something, it is weird but I always do it. It is like a way that I express my anxiety or something, I don't know.

(me): If you fix your situation, or rather, when you fix your situation, any chance you will help other people like yourself?

(interviewee): I know this sounds horrible to say, but I don't want anything to do with this after it is over. And maybe people won't understand this but I just live with it everyday I don't think I could face it everyday after it is over. It is sad but I try to make sure I am not in the sun too long so I don't get darker, and I don't want to know Spanish because people think I should, I don't care that people think I am Filipino because I actually would rather have them think that, I don't want to embrace my Mexican-ness. I don't want to do all those things because it just draws more attention to me and then people think that because I am Mexican that I am illegal, I just want to be under the radar, I don't want to appear illegal. I hide a vaccine shot I got in Mexico because everyone knows when they see it that I am Mexican. I just want to escape this whole part of my life, when it ends I want to forget it, I would do anything to fix it, but I can't. It is horrible to say these things, and I don't want to say them, but I can't help it.

This amazing young woman did not choose this for herself. However, she has to carry this burden every day with the fear of making one wrong move. She knows the severity of her situation, she knows she has very limited options at this point, and can only continue moving forward with hopes that changes will soon arise. It is a tragedy that she has been forced to separate herself from her cultural roots to avoid unwanted attention. The even greater tragedy is this story is not rare, she is the face of countless other young people in this country who carry the same secret with them daily. These are the people that we categorize as criminal, that we see as financial burdens on our country, that we should deport, that we feel threatened by. We are bombarded with images and ideas of "illegals" as greedy rule breakers who have no respect for the law or others, we never get to see undocumented persons as anything but criminal. This is not a problem of our country being flooded with illegals who break through the border, but rather a problem of governmental failure to address long-standing issues with our immigration policies. This affects human life on a daily basis and we need to take notice and push for change, the majority of undocumented persons are not criminals, we need to open our eyes, minds, and hearts to see the truth. The only difference between you and this young lady is that you were fortunate enough to be born on this side of the fence and given a nine digit number that allows you all the privileges and opportunities you could ask for.

Ask yourself, what can i do?
Share these types of stories.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tell Me A Story

     There has been much talk in politics about how many undocumented students we have in public schools. There has been debate over how to handle it, and how it even came about that we have so many undocumented students enrolled in school. The Immigration Policy Center explains that approximately 65,000 undocumented students a year who finish school but cannot go to college or enter the workforce. The DREAM ACT was a possible solution to that problem, proposing that undocumented youth be granted amnesty if they were brought into this country illegally as a child, with the stipulation that they attend college or join the military.
 Some people embraced this proposal, seeing it as a fit solution to a difficult situation. These youth broke no laws by their own accord, they were brought here as infants, toddlers, or children by parents or guardians. Some came legally with visas and just overstayed them, many of them have no idea of their situation until high school. Many of those who hoped for the DREAM ACT to pass were these undocumented youth, it was their one chance to have a life in this country. Meanwhile, some of those opposing it lacked any understanding of the situation and only saw it as amnesty for illegals, or were on the complete other side and saw it as a way of forcing Hispanic youth (and other immigrant groups) into the military.

 Both sides essentially ruined the entire opportunity for these undocumented youth, there were radicals on one side claiming this would open the flood gates and eventually legalize all undocumented persons. Some claiming they are all criminals and should just be deported no matter the circumstance. While on the other side we had organizations and groups like La Raza upset over the fact that these undocumented youth would have to join the service or go to college, claiming this was unjust or unfair. However neither side realized that 1). the bill was about youth who did not break the laws themselves and 2). most of these youth want nothing more than to go to school or get a steady job.
Neither of these positions ever stopped and took a step back from their own emotions and heated debates to ask the real people it was going to affect. They all stood with mouths wide open spewing out their opinions of how other peoples lives should be handled. I asked someone who was undocumented how he felt about this entire situation.


(me): How do you feel about the DREAM ACT?

(interviewee): I think it was a good effort.

(me): Do you wish it had passed? Not just for your sake, but for other students who are just like you?

(interviewee): Well, of course, it is not only me in this situation, but my sister as well, and it is sad because she has an even more promising future, I would do anything to make her life easier.

(me): Tell me a little about your sister.

(interviewee): She is super smart, she has a great attitude despite her situation, she graduated with honors in high school, and she still has big dreams for her future.

(me): Do you think people really understand what it is like for people in your situation?

(interviewee): No, because they think that it is a choice, we didn't choose to come here this way, and a lot of other people didn't either. We didn't come here to take advantage, we came here for opportunity. People don't understand that even a simple jay-walking ticket or after-curfew citation could end the little freedom we have. Something that residents take for granted.

(me): Who do you blame for the DREAM ACT not passing?

(interviewee): I blame both sides. My side for making us look like radical protesting ungrateful nuisances, most of whom are people who aren't even undocumented, people who just think they are fighting for us, when they have no idea what we even want. They speak for us without even asking us. I also blame the other side for thinking that we are just criminals and should be treated as such. They think we have no desire to be successful, that we just want to take advantage of this country, or even take it back, haha.

(me): It seems like you feel like your voice was lost amid everyone else's fighting, that things are too political and not even really about the issue?

(interviewee): Yes, I would say lost, or even just that it is one of too many. I would say things did go off issue when it became a thing of race instead of allegiance. It is not like we are Mexicans wanting to be Mexicans living in America. We are Mexican Americans who want to be recognized as such, we want to be seen as Mexican-Americans, or even American-Mexicans, because there are some of us who don't even speak any Spanish.

(me): Well, that sounds pretty powerful, any last things you want to say?

(interviewee): I want everyone to stop speaking for us when they don't even bother to ask what we want and how we want it. I hope someday soon we can have another DREAM ACT and have it pass, to help all those kids out there who want nothing more than to live a fulfilling life in this great country.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Recent Arrest for Mexico Murders

A recent arrest was made for one of the men supposedly involved in the dumping of 49 bodies in Nuevo Laredo. The Mexican army has arrested Elizondo Ramirez for his involvement and they are still searching for another man who was with Ramirez and  filmed the dumping of the bodies on the side of the highway. Ramirez was working for the Zeta drug cartel, however despite the messages left at the site claiming the mass murder to be the work of the Zetas, there have been signs found throughout Mexico denying their involvement. (Fox) The mutilated bodies of the 49 victims were found in an area that is part of "The Triangle of Death"
     This area is know to be particularly dangerous due to the routes used for trafficking drugs and other items. This areas has been fought over between drug cartels, where each cartel attempts to outdo the other, resulting in these mass murders. It is still uncertain who the victims are, they could be kidnapped immigrants, or they could be members of a rival cartel. There are reports that "mass body dumpings have increased around Mexico in the last six months" (Fox). It is evident that this violence is not going to end anytime soon, especially without the work of both the Mexican government working with the U.S. government.
    I decided it would be relevant to follow-up on this story simply because it is such a strong representation of the situation in Mexico. I do not wish to depict the entire country of Mexico as being full of poverty and violence at every corner, however it is relevant to point out the extreme violence that does occur. This violence is not something that every citizen of Mexico will deal with, however, it is violence that can be found in every state there.
     We know small amounts of violence compared to the violence experienced in other countries on a regular basis. We have school shootings and it quickly turns into National or even international news. That kind of violence is something that shocks and astounds the average American citizen. But that kind of violence of mass mindless murder is something that immigrants from other countries fled from, that is why they came here.
     We are relatively sheltered from violence, we are not told details of murders, nor are we shown images of dead bodies on our news channels. We cannot relate to this kind of violence, and perhaps this is why we do not understand the illegal immigrants coming from Mexico. We cannot understand their purpose for running across the border illegally, unless they were criminals trying to hide something from border patrol or the police.
    We cannot understand desperation because we have not experienced it. We cannot understand the man who is willing to risk his life crossing the desert to work picking fruit or doing day labor jobs. We assume that they are fleeing their country because they are criminals, bringing their crime here, stealing our jobs, and taking our opportunities.
    I was recently viewing an episode of Border Wars on National Geographic channel and was concerned by the way the in which the border patrol agents referred to or treated the illegal immigrants as if they were animals. Some agents commented on a raid and claimed that they "herded them up" before they began arresting people. It was dehumanizing in a way, they "hunted" them down, one officer even jumped on a man from behind, a man who was already under spotlight with other officers on their way. The one agent crept up from behind and leaped on top of the man as he was sitting on a hill, the man was banged up and hurt, the agent was young and aggressive and acted as if he was just as hurt as the man they arrested. The actions were inappropriate and unnecessary, and it was a clear demonstration of the attitude many agents and civilians hold toward these immigrants that they cannot relate to.
     On the same episode there was a "suspicious" man in a van trying to drive across the border, a female officer stopped him and had him removed from the vehicle so it could be searched. The man was detained while the search went on, the officers could find nothing wrong with the van, or with the man and their final comment about their mistake was "well we will catch him next time". This was making a bold statement that although they could come up with nothing wrong, no criminal activity, that he was still a criminal and they would figure him out on the next trip through.
    I would like to say that this shocked me, but honestly it didn't. This attitude is one that many American hold toward even those who cross the Mexican border legally, they are all considered illegals, and thus all considered criminals. It is sad really that we make these assumptions and associations that even if we didn't see them committing a crime at the moment, we "know" they are committing them when we are not looking.
     We need to rid ourselves of the image of all Hispanics being Mexican and all Mexicans being illegals and all illegals being outright criminals, it just shows our lack of intelligence and understanding toward other human beings. This image is what many think of when they think of Mexicans, and it is sad that this is all we can associate an entire country of people with.
    We are willing to relate and help and understand the struggles of other people across the globe and yet we cannot do the same for our neighbors. When mass brutal murders are occurring so close to U.S. borders we need to take a deeper look at what is happening and how we can be more productive ourselves in minimizing the problems that lead up to such brutality, instead of just building a bigger fence so we cannot see the bodies on the other side, or how we contributed to the death of those bodies, and the deaths of hundreds of bodies trying to escape a world that we helped create.

Monday, May 14, 2012

49 Bodies Found on Mexican Border

    Recently police discovered 49 bodies on the border between San Juan Mexico and McAllen Texas. These bodies were mostly male, and many of the bodies were missing arms, feet, or legs, and they were decapitated. These brutal murders are thought to be drug cartel murders, resulting from rival cartels fighting over territory. (Fox News). These types of murders are not uncommon, they have been occurring over the years across Mexico. Fox Reports that "Drug violence has killed more than 47,500 people since Calderon launched a stepped-up offense when he took office in December 2006".
    When we see this type of activity in some "third world" countries we often feel like we need to do something to stop it, nearly fifty thousand murders related to drug crime is something that we cannot ignore, and yet we are ignoring it. We report on the drug problems in Mexico and the crime associated with it, but we do not try to seek ways to help stop this, nor do we recognize this as a possible reason for people to want to leave Mexico to live here. I wish to point out what the definition of refugee is "a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution". I argue that there are many people fleeing the country of Mexico for reasons we do not understand because we are not living in the middle of a huge drug war claiming thousands of lives.
     My claim is not to say that all people coming to this country from Mexico are fleeing for their lives, I simply wish to recognize it as a possible cause from some. Others may come to seek financial stability because their likelihoods have been destroyed by programs such as NAFTA, or because they wish to provide their families with education and opportunity that they are unable to provide in their home country. However, we must recognize the drug war as a real war, people who live in areas int he United States where gang activity is high will often claim the areas as "war-zones", simply because the danger is real, the murder and death is real, and the fear is there 24/7.
    Many of us cannot relate to this, if in the United States we found almost 50 decapitated bodies near the highway we wouldn't know how to process it. We have no idea what that kind of life is like, to find bodies brutally murdered in the streets, to find mass graves, to have entire cities being controlled by cartel operations. We don't know this life, this world, but we are contributors to it.
     I will never forget a quote I heard on either the National Geographic show Border Wars or the History channel show Gangland, a man stated that "we always say Mexico is the country with the drug problems, but in reality it is the United States with the drug problems, because without us to purchase the drugs there would be no need to sell them". This has stuck in my mind so strongly, a point that never is spoken on any news media channel, a point that is never presented in the debate of border security, a point we choose to ignore because it is easier to place the blame on Mexico and their corruption.
    It is much easier to say that drug cartels sneak drugs into this country, that they commit murders, that they create violence, that they fuel the gang activity that is overflowing into our country, that they create the need for further enforcement at the borders, and it is easy to imply that all illegals coming into this country are somehow associated with the criminal activity of these cartels even when they are not. However, it is not easy to accept our own role in this image, as the root cause of the problem, as the ones demanding the supply of drugs which in turn creates the cartels and the violence that accompanies them. We disconnect ourselves from the issue and tell ourselves a little marijuana is okay because it does not hurt anyone, quickly failing to recognize where those drugs came from and the many bodies that were hurt or killed for that leaf.
    It is easy to call those who illegally cross our borders as criminals, to simply say they broke our laws and they need to be deported, but it will never stop unless we think about why they might be risking their lives to cross a desert to be here. It must be pretty bad back at home when you are willing to risk your life to come and work as near slaves for very little in wages, living in constant fear of being sent back, if that doesn't sound like a refugee then what does? Mexico is dealing with a full blow drug war, this is eveident with the report that " In less than a month, the mutilated bodies of 14 men were left in a van in downtown Nuevo Laredo, 23 people were found hanged or decapitated in the same border city and 18 dismembered bodies were left near Mexico's second-largest city, Guadalajara."
    In order to get control of the illegal immigration in this country we must recognize the signs of why it is occurring and why it is occurring from some countries more than others. We need to look at today's headlines about the 49 bodies found along the border and think about how it is interconnected with illegal immigration and realize that there are many more layers to it than may appear.