For the second year in a row I have been honored to be included among one of the top latina bloggers in the U.S. by the LATISM community (Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media). Last year, 75 of us were invited to the White House where we were briefed on key issues such as immigration reform, education, health and wellness programs among children and more. This year, we were invited to the United Nations and the Ford Foundation where we discussed how we can leverage our voices to raise awareness on causes important to us and our individual communities. Following the retreat, we’ll end the week as attendees, speakers, and volunteers of the 3rd annual national LATISM conference.
The key platform issue for us this year is to collaborate on the issue of immigration reform. Regardless of your take on the issue or your cultural background, as Latinas we all have been impacted in some way by immigration laws and policies in this country. And with immigration continuing to be a hot button issue on Capital Hill it certainly is a key issue for us to create a momentum and leverage our voices on.
As I think about how I can make an impact, I can’t help but reflect on my own immigration story. I have passionatley shared several times on sites like CafeMom.com and MomsRising.org. Because this blog is more light-hearted I never considered it the right platform to touch on this heavy issue. Today I feel differently about that.
It surprises many people when I say I have been a U.S. Citizen for only six years. I came to this country at the age of three but it took me 27 years to finalize my status. My family was never undocumented or here illegally. But on the surface, that only made a small difference to us. We lived in a two-bedroom apartment in a multi-unit brownstone in Jamaica, Queens. My Dad had just graduated from medical school but he drove school buses to make extra money. He couldn’t speak English and he drove a school bus while attending to patients at night.
We lived a modest life trying to make ends meet for many years. Like many immigrant parents, my parents saw this country as a land of opportunity for my brother and I. They worked hard to give us a life the good life we eventually had. Because my father had the opportunity to attend medical school, he was at an advantage.
Where does that leave families that were not as fortunate as ours? With current laws, it leaves them without opportunity. It also leaves children born in this country to parents that are here undocumented as potential orphans. In fact, many of these children have been orphaned because of our current laws. As a mother, as a Latina, and as a human, leaving children orphaned becomes a humanitarian issue more than an immigration issue. Is this what we’re really doing in this country? Separating children from their mothers and fathers?
I’ll leave with one final thought. Regardless of your position on this issue, I encourage you to watch a movie that really gives life to the humanitarian injustices impacted by our current laws. Under the Same Moon tells the story of an undocumented Mexican mother working very hard to raise enough money to bring the son she left behind in Mexico to this country. The story is powerful, emotional, and so real.
Watch it on Netflix and consider what you can do to help reform immigration laws and policies that work and prevent further injustices. Then take action, write a post, organize a campaign, write your state officials. Do something.
Use Your Voice.