I often joke that Mexico is just a stone throw away from me or is my backyard, and sometimes that is not an exaggeration. It is so close to me in San Diego that we breathe the same air and share the same sky, but are still considered to live in entirely different worlds. If you have ever made the journey of going across the border from San Diego into Tijuana, you can vouch that there truly is a difference that is starkly noticeable.
But every day when I walk out the door of my house and look in the distance, I can see the frontera, the U.S.-Mexican border. At night when I am driving home, and the lights across the border are shining bright like a constellation of stars - it takes my breath away. There is no denying that there is a beauty to my backyard.
As the second-generation child of immigrant parents, I grew up hearing the stories about how life was in Mexico. The stories always started the same: "En Mexico, one time your Bisabuelo(a)/Abuelo(a)/Tio(a)." I've heard them countless times, during different points in my life and each time with an added new perspective to the stories and histories of the past - our past.
The story of my family's life while living in Mexico and their immigration into the United States rings the same as many others. We are not unique, and there are many of us that we share this story with. But I feel that as part of the second-generation of immigrants, it is important to know all of these stories.
Knowing these stories are not only essential to establishing our self-identity and cultural identity, they are also important in providing a perspective to the discussion on immigration reform. Our history is rich and deep and has repeatedly been warped and undermined by the media, so knowing the stories of where your family came from is crucial.
We may think that because we are American citizens, because we had the fortune of being born on the "right" side of an imaginary line enforced by the government, the discussion on immigration does not affect us - we are safe. But the discussion on immigration is still vital and significant to us. The side of the border we were born in should not justify us turning our backs on the people who share the same blood as us -- sangre es mas gruesa que el agua.
Immigration is a hot topic, and I have seen and have read the heated discussions. In writing this, I am bracing myself for the ignorant, racist, and angry commentaries that my feelings on immigration are wrong because, "the system is already in place for people to immigrate into this country the right way." However, the fact that so many undocumented immigrants sought refuge into our country is evident that something is broken. To attempt to deny this and pretend that the system is working will not make this problem go away but simply perpetuate it. It has to be fixed.
I have sat on the sidelines on the fight for immigration reform for too long from the comfort of my home in San Diego, and that needed to change. I decided to write this for those who are like me: the second-generation, the third-generation, the fourth, etc.
There is no justification for us to turn our backs on our blood. We should help add our voice to el grito. We need to be a part of fixing the problem and not inhibiting progress or playing ignorant to the plight of our people, because they are still our people. The ground that we were born on does not magically turn our blood into "American blood" and wipe it clear of where our families came from. Mexicans are still my people - whether I like it or not and as a human being I have to recognize when injustices are being done.
My citizenship has not made me immune to racism or discrimination. Even with my US passport in hand I have had my fair share of experiences being sent to secondary inspection while crossing the border. If this happens so frequently to me, I know it happens to you. So what more of a motivation do we need to join in the fight for change? This fight has been long going and it is time to join in if you haven't already. It is time to take a stance and share your voice in the discussion on immigration. Consider this your call to arms. To everyone else, I say bring it on.