As a child growing up in Ciudad Juarez, Alexis Mesta loved racing his bike with his neighborhood friends and watching Saturday morning cartoons on TV, especially Courage the Cowardly Dog. He loved eating his grandma’s homemade food and spending time with her. He says he was a carefree, well-adjusted boy, blessed with loving parents who wanted the best for him.
That life ended when, as a teenager, he moved alone to El Paso to create a new life for himself and help his family. Today, Mesta, 22, works two jobs, studies for his master’s in business administration at UTEP and has sponsored his mom, dad, sister and brother to live in the U.S.
“I wanted to sponsor my family because I wanted my brother and sister to have the same advantages that I did,” said Mesta, who was born in El Paso and is a U.S. citizen.
EL PASO – The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that there are more than 1.7 million undocumented students in our nation. This is the case of my friend Ana, a 26-year old political science college student. Ana and I grew up together in a small mostly Anglo town in Kansas. For the security of Ana the location and her full name will not be disclosed. I never noticed any differences between us; we both always embraced the American culture rather than our Mexican roots.
LAS CRUCES, NM – As an immigrant, the grandson of immigrants, covered by a quilt sewn of Spanish, Jewish, European and Central American patches, each stitched in firmly with ethnicity, I often wondered how it all fits into the American Dream, how to define that quilt, measure it. Now, after my father-in-law, Cuban born Armando Arocha, died last month, I think the best way to understand it is to place it gently over and around the life of a single person like piping on a quilt.
Arocha was 88. He came to Tampa before the Castro revolution looking for a better life for his family. He was the man Fidel said he was fighting for – a peasant guajiro with no formal education who cut sugar cane and drove a truck for a dollar a day. But Arocha had no use for Fidel and made his way in his own way in Tampa.
EL PASO — President Barrack Obama embarked on a trip to Texas on Tuesday and paid a visit to El Paso to renew his push for immigration reform reminding us that America was built by immigrants and that we should welcome those who are willing to embrace our ideals. “It doesn’t matter where you come from. What matters is that you believe the ideals on which we were founded, that you believe all of us are equal,” said Obama. “In embracing America, you can become American. That is what makes this country so great.”
Immigration reform has been a long hot-button issue for both Democrats and Republicans and with the 2012 elections heating up, both parties are taking advantage of bringing the topic up to Congress and citizens all over the country. In his speech, Obama mentioned that there are 11 million people who are in the United States illegally and although he has sympathy for them stating that they are just trying to earn a living, what it comes down to is that they are breaking the law.
EL PASO — Finding the American dream has always been difficult for new immigrants, but for workers in the construction industry the struggle has been especially tough. Squalid living arrangements and torment from unscrupulous employers are just two of the struggles that they endure in order to establish a new life in this country. UTEP Sociology Professor Dr. Cristina Morales told an audience at the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) that immigrant workers have to overcome serious obstacles to find and keep jobs in the very competitive and harsh construction industry. “The thought of what immigrant construction workers and their families have to live through never crosses anybody else’s mind. It is time for everyone to at least have a small glimpse of what really happens,” Morales said.
EL PASO, Texas — Many of the 65,000 illegal immigrants who graduate from high school in the U.S. every year live under the entrapment radar, risking deportation at any time as they attempt to attend college or serve in the U.S. military services. According to statistics from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), most of these students in all grade levels have been raised in America, in American public school systems, American cities. Many only speak English and the American culture is what they know. They have little left of their culture of origin. “It’s a very sad experience to forget where you came from because you’re accustomed to life here. You could hardly remember that you came here from another country,” said a student who wishes to remain anonymous. The student at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is an illegal immigrant because, like the thousands of illegal high school students who graduate every year in the U.S., this student was not brought to America by choice. The parents made that choice. “It’s a difficult situation.
CHICAGO — Cristina no puede continuar con su educación. Sus padres decidieron emigrar ilegalmente a los Estados Unidos cuando ella solamente tenía tres años. Completar una carrera universitaria siendo indocumentada es muy difícil, ya que el costo de las universidades en los Estados Unidos es muy alto. Además, al no contar con un número de seguro social, ella no puede solicitar becas o préstamos estudiantiles. Cristina, de 21 años, nacida en Jerez, Zacatecas, (no quiso ser identificada con su apellido), asiste a una universidad pero sólo toma clases generales porque aún no está segura cuál carrera le gustaría estudiar, y admite que pagar por la universidad ha sido una barrera.“Mi papá y yo somos los que estamos pagando de nuestra bolsa”.
CHICAGO — Los estudiantes indocumentados en los Estados Unidos actualmente están atrapados en una paradoja legal, aseveró Roberto González, actor del reporte Young Lives on Hold: The College Dreams of Undocumented Students, publicado en abril del 2009. Edgar Chávez, estudiante de 21 años de la Universidad de Illinois Chicago (UIC), quiere que la pesadilla en la que esta viviendo termine de una vez pues tiene miedo de que su mayor sueño, que es terminar su carrera, sea afectado por su situación migratoria. Chávez tenía 12 años cuando llegó a Chicago con su madre y hermano; su padre ya llevaba dos años en los Estados Unidos trabajando para poder ofrecerles mejores condiciones de vida. Nacido en Monterrey, México, Chávez contó que su traslado a este país fue sencillo. Edgar Chávez y su familia cruzaron el borde fronterizo en la camioneta de su tía, quien es ciudadana estadounidense y reside en Texas.
BRISTOL, Tenn. — Un grupo de jóvenes corre por el campo de fútbol en Bristol, Tennessee, gritando jugadas y palabras de aliento a los demás. Lo que están diciendo es comprensible, pero su acento no suena igual. Eso es porque este grupo de varones es un crisol de estudiantes de todo el mundo. Muchos jóvenes de todo el mundo vienen a los Estados Unidos cada año para asistir a la universidad, una oportunidad que no es una hazaña fácil.