Thursday, March 05, 2009

Witnessing a deportation

A group of undocumented workers stand on a particular side road I pass each morning on my way to work. They line up leaning against a wooden fence, looking at the ground or glancing at cars passing by. Sometimes a truck pulls over, they huddle close. A few hop in the back. The truck u-turns and veers away. The others compress their line, and continue waiting.

Today, stopped at a red light by the road, I glanced to my left and saw five police cars, their lights flashing, heavily armed cops standing in a huddle around one Hispanic teenager, maybe twenty, tops, sitting on the curb, his elbows on his knee, his head in his hands, a vacant expression on his face.

The light turned green, the car behind me honked, I drove on trying to make sense of what I saw: A boy whose life today on March 5, 2009 is forever changed. He will sit in holding cells, he will second guess why he wasn't fast enough to run away like the others, in the end, he will be deported.

I haven't formulated my solution to the issue of undocumented immigrants, but there are a few things I know:

1. I am a legal citizen because I was born here. I didn't choose the place of my birth, none of us did. My status does not make me better than anyone else, it just makes me lucky. Even if your forefathers came on the Mayflower, you're still the recipient of happenstance.

2. Most rational people don't want to leave their home for a foreign land where they don't speak the language, where they withstand the risk of death and exploitation just to get there, where they will live in constant fear of getting caught, where they know from the glances of people on the street they are not wanted. Is there a less offensive term besides Mexican that I can call you? Asks NBC's The Office boss to his Mexican employee. Yeah its a joke, but it reflects a truth in our society that those who endure know better than others. There is a desperation, that drew those men here that I cannot understand because I have not endured it. Ask any undocumented person, the ache they feel when they think of home.

3. No matter how we feel about immigration, the truth is most undocumented people aren't here to steal your jobs, or rob your house, they're here because they felt they had no choice. We can argue it until the dogs come home whether this is true, but unless you had to make that choice, you really can't say for sure.

Watch The Visitor. It was a tremendous movie and it helped shed a light ever so subtly on this controversial topic.

9 comments:

Tee said...

Still planning to rent that movie, although I'm the last person who needs any light shed on how difficult it is for immigrants.

My heart breaks for the boy you saw being detained.

I hope President Obama signs a fair immigration reform bill into law before the year is out... Of course, it's of no use to those who were unlucky enough to be caught and deported already. :(

Anonymous said...

Way too much assumption here.
You're guessing too much about what really happened. I was there and the boy (lets call him Francesco Guadalupe Hidalgo) you saw was kicking turtles into the street while waiting to get a job running drugs to the governers mansion. The police was called by a passing by motorist who had to swerve to hit the turtles. And the boy was Cuban.. with nice US passport to his name.

Upon further investigation the police found that this was not a random act of juvenile violence, but an act of revenge. You see the FGH's father was killed by a rogue turtle. The turtle had entered his home at night and bit his father in the jugular vein.

WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT... you say... you couldn't have been there... you've recently read something about turtles and how evil they are and are interpreting a scene with that slant. And in that you would be correct! Times 2!

Aisha said...

Tee, yeah I am waiting to see what Obama does, right now he's got other things he's focusing on, but hopefully in time he will get to this.

I don't normally respond to anonymous posters who comment such as this, why not just say who you are? I will say that you're right, I am looking it at from a perspective that I have and it could have been anything. My perspective is that is the spot that the undocumented people stand to get jobs, I know this for a fact, I also know there's been legislation passed making it illegal to employ undocumented people, and that recently tehre have been major crackdowns in my area on undocumented people with resulting deportation. I looked at this scene through those eyes. Perhaps its ludicrous as your example was trying to point out, but its my perspective, and based on what I know of the situation and the facts surrounding where I live I am pretty sure this is the case. I have responded, but I'm not interested in further sparring back and forth on the topic. If you continue to have time to spare to do that, I will likely not be responding.

Anonymous said...

That's funny. German and I just watched The Visitor last night. Very sad, but true.... German said that it rings true with his experience with Immigration officials. Great movie. Great post. :)

-Summer

mystic said...

I think..what you wrote is very right....You hit the nail.

(after long time - real Aisha's post)

Aisha said...

Thanks Summer :)

Mystic, haha.... interesting observation from a long time reader!

Kashmiri said...

Seems like a good movie, gonna try and get it.

Thing with immigration is that it works to a point, then ultimately declines especially when economies falter, just like now.

cindy said...

Loved The Visitor...Another really good movie that made me think a lot about immigration is Frozen River. Highly recommend.

sadeya said...

Well written - did you hear that Obama has also dropped the word "enemy combatant" for (if I'm not mistaken) detainees at Guantanamo? I guess that means that almost anything can be done to them in the name of the war on terror.

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