IN WHICH I GO POLITICAL (OR "HOW I LEARNED TO LOVE THE BOMBSHELL THAT WAS LAID UPON ME EARLY IN MY LIFE")
The Dream Act -- a bill that will allow minors of undocumented parents a path to residency (not citizenship) -- needs to be passed. Yes, parents as lawbreakers should be penalized, but to strip away the opportunity of the American Dream from a child who is unknowingly in the country illegally is about as backwards as it gets.
Why does this issue mean a tremendous amount to me?
Because I was one of those kids.
There are partition asterisks below, so you know this shit is going to get serious.
This is an issue that, since the beginning of my blogging over 10 years ago, I had wanted to talk about, and I never could have due to an unknown fear. I truly believe that my entire perspective on life is defined by once having been an undocumented person in the United States.
It wasn't until I wanted to get a driving permit in high school that I discovered my "illegality."
I never really knew about "it" for a good deal of my life. I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, had access that most American kids could never dream of, a solid education, extracurricular activities in jazz/classical piano and tennis, I went to dances, was in marching band, went to concerts, played concerts, traveled, had more jobs in high school than most people have in their lifetimes... I even worked for political campaigns. I was just a nice dude with big, big plans.
This discovery was horrible. Not having legality meant not having a future. It meant not being able to take the SAT. It meant not being eligible for financial aid. It meant not being able to go to Berklee. It meant not being able to go to college (or so I thought). It meant no prospects of jobs. It meant everything I would ever do would require HIGHLY calculated moves, risks, and challenges.
It meant everything I worked for would mean nothing, and that I'd lead a double life, only confiding this highly sensitive information to less than a handful.
Consequentially, I had to learn about the "back-end" to everything. For things that most people take for granted, like driving, or opening a bank account, or getting into clubs, or getting on payroll, or getting a higher education, there were measures I took that (while I'm not necessarily proud of them) were necessary just to continue living without being flagged for being, err, "not from here."
Thankfully, I rarely got into conflict (not fully-stopping at a red light once cost me $3,000 and my car impounded!) , but having that looming fear over your head for a great deal of your mature life is something I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy.
For everything in my life, there was always an additional step. And that additional step conditioned me to being the perversely resilient person that I am today.
FML? Pft, people who use that don't know what that even means. I guffawed at people's supposed adversity.
I often wondered, "Why me?" in my Nancy Kerrigan-bitch-voice. But I really meant it. Why me? What the fuck did I do to deserve this? Why does that stoner who skips class and lives off a trust fund get to have access to the entire world, and why do I, a fervent hard-worker, have to deal with so much BULLSHIT to have a RELATIVELY normal fucking life? Why do I risk getting deported to a "home country" in which I have absolutely no knowledge of? Why should everything I have here be in jeopardy for other people's actions?
Through the "back-end," I got most things that my peers had. It took a tremendous amount of paper work and hum-haw'ing through life, but I did it, leading me to believe that anything, absolutely anything, can be done. However, the thousands of others in my position weren't and aren't so lucky.
This is why the Dream Act needs to be passed. Thankfully, I was adjusted to residency (it takes a LONG time). There are thousands walking among us who share my story, and they shouldn't have to deal with the fear, and loop-holes, and backdoors just to feel like a respected human being, nor should they be targets of crass racism and xenophobia due to a common ignorance that most people are guilty of.
By encouraging a path to residency (not citizenship) by means of having either a worthy higher-education or sincere service in the military, kids in my position (most, I'd argue, who are MUCH more worthy than I was) can have the crazy-good life that I have now.
I know this entry will unlikely make a ripple in the issue, but just know that there are thousands of "non-Americans" who walk among us now who are just about the greatest examples of what being American truly means. Next time you have supposed concrete thoughts about "illegal aliens," you may want to try thinking twice.