May the suicide of Joaquin Luna not go in vain.
DREAM Act student, Joaquin Luna, recently took his life in Texas. At 18 years old, he had aspirations of becoming an engineer. He was one of ours. He took his life because he felt as an undocumented immigrant he had nowhere to go. He relied and was hoping for the passage of the DREAM Act in December 2010 that could have been passed with only a handful more Senate votes. I knew there would be dire consequences to the failure of the December 2010 DREAM Act vote, but it is getting tougher and tougher to swallow news like this when we hear of children who feel they have no other option. It's heart wrenching. Just think, if the DREAM Act would have passed last December, we would not have to witness this precious life go to waste, and I'm told Joaquin is not the first.
Learning of this story struck a nerve with me. Joaquin Luna committed suicide and wrote notes and letters regarding his status as an undocumented immigrant. Since when do we as a society punish children for the sins of their father and mother? I believe Americans are by and large compassionate. We are the ones who give the most during crisis situations, or when horrendous natural disasters in other parts of the world occur. How did we get to this place (here in our own soil) that we can't provide a way for kids who know nothing else but being an American? Many of these children were brought here when they were infants and toddlers.
Many of us were heartbroken in December 2010 when we saw several youth praying with white knuckled hands hoping for that DREAM Act miracle. These kids and our youth don't want a free handout. They want to contribute their special talents and hard work to our society.
Learning about Joaquin broke my heart. He felt he had nowhere to go and he didn't know what to do. As an immigration activist, I recalled to memory a special DREAM Act activist who received her engineering degree at Arizona State University. She was unable to apply for a job due to her undocumented status and one day she asked me for advice on what to do. All I knew how to do was to tell her what was in my heart, and I told her to hang in there and continue the fight for the DREAM Act. I gave her my word that I would be there for her anytime she needed, and I told her I was certain something was bound to break. I told her justice for the hardworking and good people will prevail. I believe that.
As I think about an official statement in the continued plea to fix the broken immigration system, more sorrow sweeps over me. My heart feels like it is frozen in between beats. Earlier this summer I met with Brenda Rosa-Garcia who was a former day school teacher of the Mesa Public School in Arizona. She told me stories where young elementary-aged school children (who are related to undocumented relatives) would tell her of their worries of getting arrested and deported by the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio. These children believed Arpaio would come in the night, take them away from their families and ship them off. The infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- the man I have personally witnessed gloat and joke about the mysterious Mexican immigrant deaths in his prisons at an Arizona GOP meeting. .
We have seen hate crimes towards Latinos increase due to the untruths of anti-immigrant politicians that have spread like wild fire. In fact, bloodshed has already occurred in Arizona when a man killed another over the broken immigration system and issue. In fact before the killing occurred, the victim was called a wetback which is a derogatory term still being used by American politicians today. Brisenia Flores, a young and innocent little girl was killed while in fetal position in front of her mother by the minutemen and border vigilantes.
Now we are seeing undocumented youth who are turning 18 who feel they have reached a dead end, and where the United States and pledging allegiance to the flag is mostly what they know because they were brought here at a very young age. Where is the outlet at as pressure continues to build? How much more bloodshed do we need to see before the system is fixed? Everyone knows it is broken, but nobody on the Hill seems to have the courage to fix it.
Looking back at history we can find a common denominator of those who ruled under the iron fist: The lack of compassion. We see it in people like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, former Senator Russell Pearce, former Congressmen Tom Tancredo and JD Hayworth. We see it in Senator Ben Nelson, Rep. Lamar Smith, 2012 GOP Candidates Mitt Romney and Herman Cain. Democratic and Republican lobbyists lobby merely for H-1 Visas when we have DREAM Act graduates with engineering degrees under our very noses. It has been said corporate leaders are tired of the bureaucracy when it comes to bringing in talent from other parts of the world, yet these same special interest groups do nothing in support of the DREAM Act graduates who have earned their own engineering degrees in our own country.
Immigration advocates are not looking for handouts, nor amnesty. We are asking for a solution that can only benefit the United States. My people have tremendous faith and are hard workers.
Joaquin's mother in the below television interview cries out and tells other kids to remain in strong. Imagine that -- in the midst of mourning her own son's death, she worries for other children who may be contemplating the same thing and encourages them to have faith and hope. You can see the love and compassion that is filled with remorse on her face as she shed her tears.
To worry and care about others in the midst of experiencing your own personal hell is a trait that is hard to find in today's cynical world. And we want to kick that out of our society?
Without hope and faith, there is no love and future.