By Pavlina Cerna
Andres Garcia [not his real name], 53, still remembers the day he left his native Mexico and came to the United States to seek better economic opportunities. He said goodbye to his parents and siblings, knowing he might never see them again.
When Garcia learned he was going to become a father, he promised his wife to take care of the family, but the employment situation in Mexico made it impossible for him to find a high paiying job. Together they decided to seek opportunities in the United States.
“I wanted to make sure that my daughter will have a better life growing up than I did,” Garcia said.
Garcia’s wife and daughter were able to get tourist visas, enabling them to enter the country, but Garcia’s application was denied. To cross the border to the United States with his family, he obtained fake documents.
“It cost us all the money we had to get a fake passport for me, but we were sure it would be worth it,” Garcia said.
Currently working (illegally) as a vegetable-selling farmer and as a carpenter, Garcia sees the United States as his family’s home, although in his words, he has “to live in shadows without a driver’s license, health insurance or a chance to ever become a citizen.”
Garcia is one of approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Pew Research Center reported that 49 percent of all unauthorized immigrants were Mexicans in 2014.
A bad employment situation in their native countries is a main reason for unauthorized immigrants to emigrate abroad. Among Latino immigrants — both legal and illegal — polled by PRC in 2011, 55 percent reported “economic opportunities” brought them to the United States and 24 percent cited “family reasons.”
President Donald Trump recently told congress he wants to begin construction on a wall along the southern U.S.-Mexico border to reduce crime and protect U.S. citizens.
A study published in 2012 by Congressional Research Service, titled “Interior Immigration Enforcement: Programs Targeting Criminal Aliens” concluded that 69.4 percent of all arrested non-citizens and people with unknown citizenship were arrested for immigration crimes in 2010, 30.2 percent for nonviolent crimes and 0.4 percent for violent crimes. In contrast, 91.6 percent of all arrested U.S. citizens were arrested for nonviolent crimes in 2010, five percent for violent crimes and 3.4 percent were arrested for immigration crimes.
Nevertheless, Trump has begun deporting thousands of illegal immigrants. The faith of undocumented children has not yet been determined. The president has been changing his mind about including “Dreamers,” children of illegal immigrants brought to the U.S., in his executed order. According to Luis H. Zayas and Mollie H. Bradley, authors of a case study “Exiling Children, Creating Orphans: When Immigration Policies Hurt Citizens,” 4.5 out of 5.5 million children born to illegal immigrants are U.S. Citizens. “These children suffer the effects of immigration laws designed to deport large numbers of people,” the study states. “In removal proceedings, parents often must decide to either leave their citizen-children behind in the care of others or take them to a country the child may have never known.”
Over the course of his campaign, Trump’s condemnation of Hispanic has been evident. In the first presidential debate on Sept. 26, he stated: “Mexicans are taking jobs from the United States.”
The Center of Immigration Studies researched jobs often thought to be overwhelmingly immigrant. Based on their results, maids and housekeepers are 55 percent native-born, ground maintenance workers are 65 percent native-born, janitors are 75 percent native-born and taxi drivers and chauffeurs are 58 percent native-born.
According to Census of Agriculture, 42 percent of all farm workers are foreign-born out of which 45 percent are Hispanic with an average pay lower than $10,000 per year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 32.8 percent of carpenters are Hispanic or Latino in 2014.
As for Garcia, he said he tries to stay positive. Now a father of three (two born as U.S. citizens), working two jobs, he is able to take care of his family, which was his goal when going abroad.
Within the first two years of their stay in the United States, Garcia saved enough money to pay an American citizen “to marry his wife,” since U.S. authorities do not have a record of Garcia’s wife being already married in Mexico, thereby legalizing her and their first daughter.
Based on the current immigration law, Garcia cannot be naturalized because he entered the country illegally.
“I’ve lived in the U.S. for 17 years,” Garcia said. “My kids and wife are citizens now. My life is here with them. I cannot go back to Mexico.”
Garcia added he hopes Trump will not follow up on his immigration plan.
“That I am illegal doesn’t mean that I am bad,” Garcia said. “We are not all ‘bad hombres’, as Mr. Trump calls us. I work two jobs, pay my bills and provide for my family as any American does. I wish for my kids to get a good education and a good job in the future. That is all I want!”
Contact Pavlina Cerna at firstname.lastname@example.org