Children Of Immigrants Fight Back
It's hard out there for children of immigrants. They are often mislabeled as "language-impaired" when in reality they're still learning English - particularly if other language is spoken at home. They're more likely to live in low-income homes than the children of the native born. Because their parents are more likely to have low levels of education, they're bound to suffer from low grades and poor performance in school themselves.
This is even more pronounced in homes where the immigrants are from Latin America, and of course, if the parents are living illegally, the odds against these children are stacked really high. There are over 5 million children with undocumented parents living in the United States.
As if that weren't enough, these children are one of the favorite piÃ±atas of anti-immigrant groups. Beginning with California's Proposition 187, which attempted to deny schooling and medical care to undocumented children, the meanness against the most defenseless doesn't seem to abate. Proposed legislation to deny citizenship for children born of undocumented parents that is now making its ways through the halls of Congress is another example.
It's no wonder to see some of these kids fighting back.
American Fraternity Inc., a non-profit organization based in Miami, is suing President Barack Obama on behalf of 600 children of immigrants who are either being held in detention centers or have already been deported. These kids, all of them U.S. citizens, want to be reunited with their parents.
Among the children is Cecia Sosa, a 12-year-old whose mother has been held since December at the Pompano Beach Detention Center. The little girl told the press she was getting ready to go on a hunger strike to demand her mother be released. Katherie Ramirez pleaded with President Obama to stop deportations like the one that snatched her own mother two years ago.
And then many wonder why identity politics is alive and well.
Immigrantion restrictionists will tell you the reason for limiting how many people we accept in this country is because newcomers refuse to assimilate - they don't want to learn our language, they don't want to embrace our traditions. But how is the child of an immigrant to embrace a culture that rejects her, that jails her parents and turns her already precarious situation into an intolerable one? These U.S. citizens, children of undocumented immigrants, are growing up seeing the mistreatment their parents receive and storing in their young minds information that's not favorable to the American legal system. And they're not likely to forget.
Five, ten, 15 years from now, we'll have a new cadre of Americans, children of immigrants who have grown up in low-income homes and in fear of being separated from their parents. More likely than not, they'll resent the system and will wonder if they really belong here. Restrictionists will look at them and say, "See, I told you." And they will have more reason to exclude them and say, "They don't like our country, they're not grateful of the things we've given them."
By then, the children of immigrants are likely to have built enough legal muscle and courage to say, "We've had enough." I wonder which laws they will enact then.