Consider signing the petition below after reading the following testimony
My name is Karen. I am an American citizen and the proud daughter of two immigrants, who like so many others, began a very dangerous journey years ago, a journey in order to bring hope to their children.
My father came to this country when he was 16 years old. Because he was the oldest in the family, he felt responsible to help his parents. When he could no longer find work taking care of animals here and there or doing odd jobs in the fields, he made the difficult decision to come to this country. He came alone. At 16 years old. My mother’s story is similar. They both came here in order to survive and to help their family survive back home.
They also came so that the children they would have in the future would not have to struggle as they were doing, that their children could go to college, get a profession and be decent, law-abiding citizens. They came seeking a better life for themselves, but mostly for their children. The lack of opportunities in their native country and bounty of privileges in America forced them to give up years of memories, their families, everything that was dear to them just so their children could have a better life.
I was born here in the United States so I know the privileges of citizenship. But I also know, through my parents, what it is like to be denied these privileges. My parents have been living in this country for 20 years. They pay their taxes, they follow the laws; they love and respect this nation like any American citizen, but, in spite of all of that, they just don’t belong. They don’t have the papers that say they belong here. They will never be able to reap any of the benefits that they help to provide, they will never be able return to Mexico to visit a dying mother or father. They will never be able do something as simple as cast their vote in the next Presidential election. They will, instead, be forced to work until they physically can't and hide in the shadows of Lady Liberty until Congress passes the reform.
My parents, along with eleven million other undocumented immigrants, have wanted only one thing; a better life, a normal life - a life of hope for their children. To some degree they have found that. We have a wonderful family, a house, a dog, and even the proverbial white picket fence. Next month I will enter an outstanding University on a full scholarship, as a full time student. I hope to major in Nutritional Sciences. My sister will be attending high school, and my brother will be in Kindergarten. Through the struggles and encouragement of my parents – and because we are citizens - we have had excellent educational opportunities; opportunities we would never have if we were born in Mexico. It is only because my parents made the heart-wrenching decision to leave their families, their homeland, all that was dear to them, to risk their lives to come to this country that we, their children, do not have to struggle to find food to put on the table.
Life in the United States these 20 years has not been easy for my parents, but they have been respectful, law-abiding people, looking to give back to their community rather than take from it. The only difference between them and we who are citizens is that we have a paper to show it and they do not. They love this country just as much as we do because this country has given their children a future full of hope.
My sister and I, like all other children of undocumented parents, live with a nagging fear that never really goes away. What if one day we come home and find that our parents have been picked up. What would we do? Go to Mexico with them? That’s not our country. We don’t know Mexico. We don’t belong there. We are citizens of this country. Our life is here. What future would we have there? Stay here without my parents? Go to live with other relatives? They are all part of the 11 million. We are all minors. My brother is only in Kindergarten. I am the oldest, and I can tell you that this is my worst fear. It frustrates and confuses me to think that my parents might be treated like criminals just for wanting a better life – even after they have lived here so long and contributed to their community. As much as they love Mexico, this has become their home because this is the land that has given their children hope.
I am here today to pray with you for Comprehensive Immigration Reform - a reform that would bring respectable, law-abiding people like my parents out of the shadows. Yes, they broke the law when they came here. But wouldn’t you if your family was starving and you knew that your children would end up the same way? We are givers, not just takers and with you we say: God bless America.
The undersigned residents of the United States strongly support a Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill to be debated and brought up for a vote in the House of Representatives this summer. Such proposal must include a just, direct, and inclusive road map to citizenship for all undocumented residents of the United States, and must not be contingent on border security measures or outcomes. Family reunification and normalizing documentation for all Dreamers ought to be a priority. Having Immigration Reform that brings 11 million undocumented Americans out of the shadow will directly impact the economic health of our country and honor the values of our nation.
We also write to express our strong opposition to H.R. 2278, the “Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act” (the SAFE Act), an enforcement-only bill that was marked up by the House Judiciary Committee on June 18, 2013. We strongly believe that the bill introduced by Representative Gowdy will only obstruct collaborative efforts to enact sensible solutions to our nation’s immigration policy. The proposed Act would criminalize our communities, produce a chaotic, unruly and uncoordinated system of immigration enforcement and result in egregious violations of individual liberty. We urge you to encourage House members to advance the public’s desire for comprehensive immigration reform that puts families first and recognizes the contributions of our country’s 11 million aspiring Americans.
Elkin Espitia-Loaiza started this petition with a single signature, and now has 84 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.