This week thousands of children will gather in small and large cities in the United States and Mexico to ask Congress to push immigration reform forward and keep families together. Children whose young lives have been torn apart by the sudden absence of a deported loved one will reach out this week and ask for help that only the heartless can ignore.
Although the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform seem to be fading because of political ploys by both parties, the love for family, dreams of a better future in America, and urgent quest to answer a moral question of fairness keep civil rights and immigrant rights advocates hopeful and mobilized. The gatherings of children and immigrant rights advocates in cities like Washington, DC, Chicago, New York, Ohio, Phoenix, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Mexico City are imbued with an urgent message. More delays in fixing our broken immigration system will only bring shame, suffering, and pain upon millions of children and their parents and the thousands of communities where they live, and take a toll on our nation's humanity and sense of fairness.
Every day I am touched by stories about parents whose recurring dream in the middle of the night is to wake up and find a green card in their pocket. No longer will they live hidden in the shadows in the land of freedoms and liberties, they dream. These parents are hard working, proud of their children's accomplishments and appreciative of the opportunities they find in the US. These parents are exactly the same as any other parent in America except for their immigration status. These parents dream the same, cry the same, work the same, love the same, care the same.
So far though, Americans seem to be tone deaf to the plight of 1,200 families who daily forgo a hug, a smile, a wink, or a goodnight kiss from a loved one. So far, the 400,000 deportations by the Obama administration have not been not enough.
But rather than tell you more about these American-families-in-waiting, I thought we could hear directly from a young man whose family lives in suspense daily. I leave you the letter David Angel, 13 and US citizen, wrote to President Obama.
Dear President Obama,
I live in California with my mom, stepdad and my little brother and sister. I am one of the millions of kids that have an undocumented parent. I am writing to you to ask you to please help us keep our family together the way you have your own family together.
My stepdad has lived in the United States for 17 years but he doesn't have documents. He is a very good dad and works hard. Even though he is my step dad I feel that sometimes he is my real dad because he loves me and my brother like a real dad would. Sometimes in the mornings he gets up with us and helps cook special breakfast before my mom wakes up. When he has time and we are bored he takes us to the park and we play with him. He also teaches us life lessons so when we grow up our lives can be better.
My dad works every day except Sunday but he gets paid so little that it is not enough to pay the bills and the house. We are in danger of losing the house and sometimes my parents have to decide between paying the house and buying food. Sometimes we only have $30-$40 per week to buy enough food to feed six people. Because he is undocumented my stepdad cannot own a license so my mom has to drive us to most of the places we go to. When my stepdad does drive he has to be extra careful and we are fearful that if the police pulls him over we could lose him and the car which would back track me and my family's life even more.
Life would be even more difficult if my stepdad was to be deported because then me and my siblings would not have a father figure to look up to. Also my mom would have to work two jobs to try to pay everything putting more stress on her. Me and my siblings would also most likely not be able to attend college or university because of the cost. My whole family will suffer if my stepdad was deported.
This is why I beg you to help me and my family and the millions of other families that have an Illegal parent. Even though I haven't had the experience of getting my parent deported, I don't think it's fair that other kid's parents get deported, because the kids suffer without a mother or father figure in their life. Please, President Obama, try to have sympathy for all the families that get separated and help us by doing an immigration reform.
Thank you for reading my letter,