Immigration Reform: 180,000 live in the shadows in Santa Clara County
Thursday, 18 April 2013
By Dave Cortese
At the event in early April, I joined other elected officials, including Congressman Mike Honda, and dozens of immigrants to show our support for reform and stress the urgency of getting it done now. I spoke along with Congressman Honda, San Jose City Councilmember Xavier Campos, South Bay Labor Council’s Ben Field and SIREN’s Jazmin Segura.
But perhaps the strongest testimony was from Alan Gallegos, who came to the U.S. from Mexico five years ago to look for better opportunities for his wife and three children, who remains in Mexico. There was no work for him there, and he faced constant threat from organized crime. Here is a translation of how he described what his life is like as an undocumented worker in San Jose away from his family.
“It has been five years since I’ve seen my children, since I’ve spent a Christmas with them, school graduations, birthdays, all important family celebrations I have not been able to participate in any. I know that my story is not unique, there are many immigrants who have gone through this much longer than I have, who have put their own personal happiness aside for the well being of their families.”
He also talked about the daily risks, dangers and harassments caused by lack of valid documentation:“Sometimes it feels as if we don’t even have the right to the air we breathe or the water we drink in this country. This is not fair. Immigrant workers deserve to be treated like the Americans we are.”
Gallegos is just one of 11 million undocumented workers who live in the shadows, with an estimated 180,000 of them in Santa Clara County. They work hard to support their families, pay taxes and yet cannot return to their native lands to visit their wives, children and parents because they fear deportation. They miss birthdays, anniversaries and even funerals.
For children of unauthorized immigrants, the stress of daily life is unimaginable. They live in constant fear of their parents being deported, tearing apart their family and leaving them to face an uncertain future. Think of how devastating that would be if it happened to your family.
It is for these children and workers like Gallegos that I support national immigration reform that would stop routine deportations and create a path to citizenship. I also supported the Santa Clara County policy that the Board of Supervisor approved in February and that was shared with our representatives in Washington. We believe that all immigrants should be given the opportunity to become U.S. citizens, that families should be kept together and that all workers should be respected and protected.
To contact my office, call (408) 299-5030 or email me at email@example.com.
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