My mother, was an illegal alien. An experienced accountant, she left her country for reasons that were not money related, even if money was not necessarily abundant.
Not every immigrant is destitute, uneducated, low life. Most are not and she certainly wasn’t. But one thing she was:
An illegal alien.
She embraced her status bravely. Working two shifts in factories under difficult conditions where she never made minimum wage. I remember her fingers red with blisters caused by the “long play” records she removed hot from the press. Her tired smile sent in pictures to her family in Colombia walking to a train station in freezing temperatures. I remember the time she worked through the fever of bronchitis unable to take a “sick day” and without seeking medical care because her status didn’t come with health benefits, and seeking them was a red flag for deportation.
I am the daughter of an illegal alien.
An honest, hardworking illegal female immigrant.
Other members of the family followed. All illegal. All worked in similar conditions. All hard working honest people. Under their illegal status, their federal pay check deductions were left behind unable to file IRS return.
Their challenges are not new. Their slow acceptance into this country was not smooth, and that’s not new either. Other groups suffered as much.
I have a hard time thinking that any of them robbed a citizen of a job they would have taken under similar circumstances for less than minimum wage and no benefits. I have as hard of a time believing they received anything they didn’t work hard to get.
They didn’t run back to their country when their status changed. They stayed, invested in the economy and raised a family.
Their lives were not easy. They lived in fear, and they worked hard. And they were grateful. When you have nothing, you are grateful for everything.
It’s difficult to sit back and watch how they are depicted as criminals and to hear about the glamorous easy life they supposedly had as illegal immigrants. None of it is true, at least not to this immigrant family.
I’ve never been illegal, but I am of an illegal family. It is from them that I learned that deep commitment to work ethics and integrity that now I pass on to my children.
I am the daughter of an illegal alien and I am proud.