My uncle was a whiny 8-year-old and my mother was a nervous 10-year-old when they crossed the border from Mexico to the United States alone, without any other family, in hopes of a better life.
With the help of fake birth certificates and “coyotes,” or human smugglers, they were able to safely pass border patrol as they waited in a crowded house for several days as my great grandmother crossed the river, hoping to be reunited with my mother and uncle.
My father was a loyal 10-year-old who took a bus from Mexico City to Tijuana with my grandmother as they prepared to cross the desert with two groups and the help of “coyotes.”
My grandmother was very ill with a fever and hid in a bush with my father and their group as overhead helicopters caught the first group who made an attempt to run through the desert.
After hiding for nearly two hours on a windy November night, my father and grandmother crawled through a fence that led them to the Interstate 5 Freeway and to their new life.
As the daughter of parents who emigrated to the United States from Mexico, I am extremely fortunate to have had my parents become citizens because of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Unfortunately, not many children or adults are as lucky.
In mid-November, actress Diane Guerrero of “Orange is the New Black” spoke in an interview with CNN and wrote in the Los Angels Times of her family’s deportation from the United States to Colombia when she was 14.
“I came home from school to an empty house,” Guerrero wrote in the Times. “Lights were on and dinner had been started, but my family wasn’t there. Neighbors broke the news that my parents had been taken away by immigration officers, and just like that, my stable family life was over.”
Talks of granting legal status to undocumented immigrants have been discussed recently as President Obama addressed the new steps he plans to take to fix America’s broken immigration system.
Not only would making millions of undocumented immigrants citizens be the humane thing to do, but it could even better the nation’s well-being.
For those who care more about the economy than the lives of the 11 million immigrants living in the shadows of America, undocumented immigrants alone contributed an estimated $10.6 billion in state and local taxes in 2010 according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
In addition a study by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office showed the immigration reform bill would reduce the deficit by $197 billion over the next decade.
With Pew Research reporting that nearly 75 percent of Americans agree granting undocumented immigrants citizenship would be good for the economy, why even debate the matter of granting them legal status?
I truly am fortunate to have my family here as citizens where we can carry on with our daily lives without the paralyzing fear we may be separated by deportation. It is unjust and downright callous to separate families in the name of the law.
It’s a petrifying thought to wonder what would have happened had my parents not arrived to the States in time for Ronald Reagan to approve immigration reform. Many families, and even America itself, will benefit from a possible upcoming immigration reform.
Karla Rendon, a junior journalism major, is editorial director of the Campus Times. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.