Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Distance Between Us Post 5

When Jose Varagas was 12 he left the Philippines to come to the USA.  He boarded a plane with who he thought was his uncle, but turned out to be a coyote that illegally brought him to the United States.  At the time he did not know he was illegally coming here.  He went to go live with his grandparent, Lolo and Lola, he did not discover he was illegally there until he went to go get a leaners permit.  The person working there whispered to him that his papers were fake.  However, he believed that if he worked hard, he would prove himself as a person and be granted citizenship.  He was wrong.  For the last 14 years he has worked hard as a journalist and he has not been granted citizenship.

Image Courtesty of "Wikipedia"
This is a truly sad story of a seemingly perfect American, but America does not think of him as a citizen.  This seems like a very common theme with many illegal immigrant that are in America. They feel like they are an American, but America feels nothing towards them.  Nearly all the main character in the book saw themselves as only an American who wanted to forget their past, or a Mexican-American whom embraced both cultures.  I feel especially bad for Jose, as he thought that he was there fully documented, and legally until the fateful day at the DMV.  At least whenever Reyna, Carlos, and Mago were crossing the border, they knew they were doing so illegally, this in some ways is better.  It helps them to understand what they can and cannot do until they gain legal status, in a way it helps keep them from getting their hopes to high.  Which I know sounds horrible, but it is the truth for many illegal immigrants.  Imagine how embarrassed and scared Jose must have been when the DMV turned him away, this could have been avoided if his parents told him the truth about how he go there.

I know, now you think I am the type of person who walks around telling kids that Santa Clause isn't real, making balloon animals for them, then popping it, and telling them that their parents are paid to act like they love them.  But, I'm not.  It is what I truly believe, for instance in Gattaca the main character knew he was going to die young, this allowed him to make the most of what he had, and instead of complain, he worked on fixing it.  Actually, Gattaca has a lot to do with undocumented immigrants in general, it is about a man that blood tests showed that he was going to die early, so no one would hire him.  He then has to fake his papers, and never tell anyone that he has fake papers in order to get a good job.  Another interesting point I found in the article was how much mistrust he must have had to never be found out, he couldn't even trust those closest to him with his secret. This made him distance some people and never get into a long term relationship.  One of the reasons I believe that Reyna distanced herself from others, and fell in love with books because she was subconsciously pushing many people away.

Link to the Article:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Distance Between Us Artifact 4

Image Courtesy of "

Neil Diamond's America is one of the most popular songs about immigration to America.  The song itself is not about a single person's journey to America, nor an event that occurred with immigration into America. It is more about America: A place people come to live their dreams and be free.  His song talks about the sacrifice that people must go through to come to America, they must leave there home far away in search of a better life.  His song is basically the American dream that many have died fighting for.

The first stanza of his song is "Far, We've been traveling far Without a home But not without a star".  To me this means that they have been traveling very far to reach America,  that their own country never felt like a home, that their real home will be America.  Reyna never really felt this way.  For most of the book, Reyna believed that her home was in Mexico where her umbilical cord was buried.  However, Mago felt this way.  America was the place that was her home, she tried to get rid of everything that was Mexican about her, she got rid of her 'wetback' accent, she refused to wear hammy down clothes from the nursing home, and she bought a new car.  His next stanza is "Free, Only want to be free We huddle close Hang on to a dream".  This stanza can be interpreted many ways, but to me, this most is likely talking about wanting to be free of violence, and poverty.  One of the reasons that Reyna's parents left was to help free them of poverty.  A common way people are smuggled here is in the back truck, or in trunks, I believe this is what "Huddled close to hang onto a dream" means.

The following stanza is "On the boats and on the planes They're coming to America Never looking back again, They're coming to America"  These verses are self explanatory.  "Never looking back again" Applies to Mago which I discussed earlier, as she tried to become an American, and forget her Mexican past.  Reyna and Carlos, always held onto to a bit of their Mexican Heritage, while still trying to embrace America. His next stanza is  "Home Don't it seem so far away Oh, we're traveling light today In the eye of the storm in the eye of the storm".  This means to me that either America, their home as in america is to still far away, or their home as in birthplace is far away.  They can bring very few items with them. I believe that the eye of the storm is the border.  This relates to Reyna's whole family, when the coyote took them across the border, they had to bring very few things, and it was the most excitingly hard time of their journey.

The next stanza is "Home, To a new and a shiny place Make our bed and we'll say our grace
Freedom's light burning warm Freedom's light burning warm"  This stanza describes the expectations that Carlos, Mago, and Reyna had for America, a place that was amazing in every way: A place with no poverty.  The third to last stanza is "Got a dream to take them there They're coming to America Got a dream they've come to share They're coming to America".  This was the reason that first her father and mother left, then Reyna, and her siblings: They dreamt of a better life, for them and there family.  The song has two more stanzas, but they mostly reiterate information that is already present, or are there solely for melody.

Link to lyrics:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Distance Between Us Artifact 3

By 2020 hispanics will outnumber non-hispanic whites in Texas.  In the last few elections the majority of hispanics have voted with the Democrats, this will transform Texas into a swing state as early as the 2016 election.  Although immigration is still happening, in the 80's it was happening in far great numbers, the article states that since 2007 the hispanic population has hardly grown.  Hispanics have a higher birthrate than their Caucasian counterpart, if this trend as well the trend of hispanics voting for the Democratic party continues, Texas will only become more, and more of a blue state.  When/if Texas become solidly blue, Republicans stand almost no chance of winning the presidential election.  Texas is the biggest Republican state from the last election with 38 electoral college votes.

I myself am a Republican, at least financially.   I believe that the government shouldn't act like Robin Hood, taking from the rich and giving to the poor.  But now is not the time for any rants.  Logically what Texas should do before Democrats take over is split the vote, similar to what Maine has done.  This way whenever they begin to lose, they will not lose all 38 votes, but around twenty of them.  My opinion has not really changed on this subject since reading The Distance Between Us.  I still believe in the Republican financial values, such as cutting down on welfare, and similar programs.  However, my opinion on immigration has changed.  Before, I believed that we should have no tolerance for illegal aliens(which does not makeup the majority of hispanics, it covers 10 million to 22 million of them).  I have a bit more tolerance now, I feel like I understand more than before, the sacrifice and hardship that they went through to get here.  Currently Illegal immigrants cannot vote, but as they have children born here, their children can.

I now understand why Hispanics tend to vote with the Democrat party, it's because they tend to understand and enact new laws and bills that give illegal immigrants more rights.  For instance, DACA which I discussed in my last post was created by the Obama administration. I believe that I might vote democratically if I were the son or daughter of an illegal alien, if I was in a situation similar to what Reyna, Mago, and Carlos had been in.  If I was like them and got my green card from programs created by the Reagan administration, I would be a Democrat.  I would likely place far more importance on the issue than I do now, even after reading the book it is not a very important topic to me.  If I were the son of an illegal alien, I would take note of all the times that Democrats helped my father by allowing us to receive green cards.  I would also take note of all the times that Republicans tried to strengthen the border.  I believe I would begin to dislike the Republicans, and grow fond of the democrats who helped us.

Link to article:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Distance Between Us Artifact 2

Image courtesy of "SCRP"
DACA(Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals) was a program implemented about two years ago by the Obama administration that gives people living in the USA illegally a work permit and temporary legal status.  It covers about 1.1million illegal immigrant, about half of which have already been granted it. DACA does have a few rules for who qualifies, three of which are: you must have been living in the country continuously since you were under 16 years of age, you must currently be under 33 years of age, and you must not have any felony's.  DACA covers 5-10% of all illegal aliens.

DACA is a large step into incorporating illegal immigrants into America, but with it covering such a small percentage, very many illegal immigrant miss out.  If Reyna's family had not received their green cards, they would likely still be working here illegally as none of them would be eligible for DACA.  This really does sadden me, I believe that if we are going to grant legal status to some illegal immigrants, then we grant it to many of them.  Within this article, there is a story of someone who was eighteen when they entered the country so they were not eligible.  I believe is unfair, just because your parents chose to take you here a little bit later, the whole course of your life is affected. Without a work permit, you can do very little besides minimum wage jobs.  Another person in this article wanted to be an attorneys assistant, but that requires a license.  Without a social security number provided by a working permit, they can't get the license.

Before reading the Distance between Us, I would have believed that we should have not given any breaks.  I would have thought that if you came into this country illegally, you deserved nothing more than to have a minimum wage job.  Looking back I think that it is harsh. I still have a similar opinion for people who enter the country illegally to give themselves a better life, but it has begun to differ for those who wish to give their children a better life.  I would change it by allowing anyone who has children to receive temporary legal residence, or anyone who was brought into the country as a minor, after all, as a minor you likely didn't have a big part of your decision to come here.

The Article:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Distance Between Us Artifact One

US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo / Jim Watson)
Image Courtesy of ""

Obama is saying that undocumented immigrant children will not remain in the USA, this comes after he is feeling increased pressure from border states like Texas where representatives are becoming vocal.  An influx of illegal alien children, who are unaccompanied are attempting to cross into the USA.  What to do with these children is a very hard ethical question.  Many believe that it is unethical to send children back to Mexico where the kids would possibly have no place to go. On the other side of the coin is keeping the kids here costs money and is difficult.  Up to 90,000 unaccompanied minors are expected to cross into the USA this year alone.

Before reading the Distance Between Us, I would have believed that we should have sent them back right on the spot.  I would have believed that if they have the ability to walk to the border, then they would have the ability to walk back to where they came from.  After reading the book, my views have shifted slightly.  I now know what kind of fear those children must be feeling, to cross the border with a family is scary enough, but to do it by yourself would be even worse.  Imagine how the kids would feel if after they were caught, they were sent back not knowing what to.  The kids could have taken the bus alone to a border city, then would have no way to get back to their caretakers, and would live in even worse poverty with no one taking care of them.  No one should have to live through that.  

Although no one should have to live through being sent back with nowhere to go, it raises a bigger question: what do you do with the kids if you can't send them away?  Currently we house them military bases, and similar places, but it is no long term solution.  I see three possible solutions, take away their reason for wanting to be, grant them citizenship and put them into the foster system, or improve condition is Central America and Mexico. The main reason people come here from other countries is for money to build a better life for their family, for instance in the Distance between Us Reyna's parent came here to get jobs, and gain money so that they could build a house in Mexico.  If we required people to present proof that they were legally in the country, then illegal immigrant couldn't get jobs, and people in South America, and Mexico would have no reason to come here.  If parents had no reason to come here, then their children would not be sent here unaccompanied as well.

An alternative to requiring people to show proof of being here legally is to put more of a Band-Aid on the problem and put the children who's parents or caretakers cannot be located into the foster system.  This too however is not a long term solution, with a large influx, the kids would just sit in foster homes for a very long time with the possibility of never being adopted.  The final option I see is improving condition in countries with a high number of immigrant.  By this I mean donating a lot of money to other countries to set up Welfare, and create jobs. This would give less of a reason to have people illegally come here. This idea would cost a lot money to the taxpayers.  Before reading the book, I would have immediately chosen to require citizenship or a green card to get a job without a second thought.  After reading the book, I get a greater sense of how bad it really is in other counties and am split between the two: not wanting to put our nation in even further debt, and not having others live in terrible poverty.