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Immigrants – Aren’t We All?

LatinaBy Kerri Zane –

That’s my oldest daughter with her arms wrapped around our nanny, housekeeper, babysitter, caretaker, confidante, other mother, and soul sister. Gloria has been a part of our family since my daughter was two years old. Rachele will tell you that she chose Gloria to be a part of our family, but I’m convinced it was divine intervention. With my two year old in tow, I went to an office in a seedy section of mid-town LA, where a very busy Latina woman ran a highly successful placement agency for other Latina’s. There was a line up of 5 prospects, my then toddler walked over to Gloria and handed her her bottle, it was a fait a complete, we drove Gloria home with us. Her English wasn’t that good at the time and her immigration status was questionable but 17 years later this devoted, amazing and beautiful woman is deeply embedded into the fabric of our family. No longer our nanny, my children are teenagers, Gloria is my 90 year old mother’s caretaker.

She is from Leon in Mexico, born to a large Hispanic family and raised in a poor area of the city. Like many other Latin Americans, as well as a myriad of other foreigners from all over the world, she came to the United States at 16 years old to make a better life for herself and ultimately for her two daughters. She has worked very hard her entire life, caring for our family, cleaning houses, catering events, basically doing whatever she can, as a single mom, to support her family. Over the years she learned to drive, speak fluent English, she pays for all her medical expenses, makes her annual pilgrimage to the mailbox April 15 and four years ago purchased her own home becoming a real estate tax paying resident just like the rest of us.

So why can’t this woman get her citizenship?

She has been paying lawyers and showing up in court for years now. Every appeal gets capriciously denied. There are US citizens born and raised in this country who have contributed far less to this current society and economy than Gloria. She has never taken a free ride on our dime, abused the system like so many others or participated in any kind of criminal activity. Give this woman, and all the other worthy immigrants living and working in this country, A BREAK.  There was a movie that opened in 2004 called “A Day Without Mexicans”, though less than critically acclaimed the title says it all. If for one day California had to exist without one single Mexican working that day…well it wouldn’t. There would be a business meltdown tantamount to the fall of the twin towers. Can you imagine if all the housekeepers, nannies, gardeners, construction workers, busboys, dishwashers, fruit pickers, janitors, I’m sure I’m missing a few other tasks Mexicans do that the rest of us won’t, didn’t show up! Our state would be at a virtual standstill.

With all that Latin American’s contribute to the absolute functioning of this country, why are they being treated differently than every other immigrant who came to this country before them? Isn’t this entire country made up of immigrants and descendants of immigrants? Even the Native Americans weren’t born here; they crossed the Bering Strait on a relocation mission from Asia. My father was an immigrant who landed here in 1962; he became a US citizen almost immediately following his emigration. Was it just simpler for him because he was White and European?

I say if you work hard, don’t abuse the system, are not a criminal and most importantly make a financial contribution to the betterment of this country than you are worthy of US citizenship. Make these people street legal! That is what the United States is supposed to be about. Let’s live up to our constitution, stand by our morals and be guided by our conscience.

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