Cue the Violins and Get Out the Tissues
I'm feeling weepy. OK. Maybe not.
Source: LA City Beat
Catherine has juggled multiple jobs, spent late nights and early mornings in the library, and sustained herself on meager meals of stolen coffeehouse milk and oatmeal to succeed in school. “It’s survival of the fittest,” Catherine says, and she intends on making it. Her life is undoubtedly hectic. But isn’t instability what college is all about?I have sympathy for this young woman on one count: she didn't choose to come here illegally herself -- she was brought illegally as a child by her family. She is, however, an adult now, and fully responsible for all the laws she's broken since she turned 18...
Maybe so, but Catherine’s struggle goes beyond that of your average undergrad worrying about the prospect of bad grades and unpaid bills. She’s an undocumented student who frets about the prospect of never using the degree she is working so hard to earn. In fact, Catherine isn’t even her real name – it’s the name of a young Guatemalan girl whose visa her grandmother purchased for her some 14 years ago. She uses “Catherine” here because she fears being discovered and deported from the place that she’s called home for most of her life.
Catherine is a 22-year-old psychology and education student, gearing up for her senior year at UCLA. Tired of her stressful work schedule, she recently decided to quit her jobs to make more time for school, research, and peer counseling. She plans to enjoy her last quarters of college working towards her dream career in education. But even though she knows what she wants, she doesn’t know how she’ll get there – in spite of her college credentials, Catherine won’t be legally eligible to work once she graduates.Not that I'm condoning or encouraging it, mind you, but what is stopping her from getting a job illegally? It's not like she hasn't done it before: "she recently decided to quit her jobs to make more time for school..."
Sure, they can go to college right now, but they can’t receive federal aid to pay for it. Once they do graduate, they can’t work legally. On top of all this, they can’t drive legally or get into the clubs or bars that their fellow citizen and resident classmates frequent. Their higher education isn’t just about academics; it’s about learning to work around all kinds of limitations.They can't receive federal aid, work legally, or drive legally (yes, I'm ignoring the ridiculous bit about getting into bars) because THEY ARE ILLEGAL ALIENS. And those "limitations" are called LAWS.
“The system is not here to help me. It wants me to wash dishes and wash rich peoples’ clothes,” admitted Catherine, usually the eternal optimist. “Right now the biggest struggle is to get a degree from UCLA and not be able to use it because I don’t have a Social [Security number].”You're right Catherine, or whatever the hell your real name is, the system is not here to help you. You're an illegal alien. The system is here to help me. I'm an American citizen. And you can bitch all you like, but "the system" is breaking down in your favor, not mine.
During her first year at UCLA, Catherine studied in Powell library, sometimes until two in the morning, to keep up with her classmates, while also working two jobs – one in Westwood and one in Los Angeles – just to make ends meet.A hard worker? I can't argue with that. I've heard speech after cloying speech -- in person -- from my own
The jobs, of course, required juggling lies. She worked on a fake social security number given to her on her 18th birthday. Catherine’s friend bought it from a neighborhood in Los Angeles notorious for counterfeiting licenses, green cards, and visas. When her Westwood employer asked to run a background check on her SSN, Catherine was forced to leave. Staying would mean risking jail time or paying massive fines. This was especially difficult for Catherine since she also had to quit her second job in Los Angeles – her boss’s flirtatious advances had became too offensive and too much to handle.
“I can’t wait for the day that I get to write the right social security number on a paper. I can’t wait for the day that I don’t have to go through the back door,” Catherine says. Unfortunately, though, she and other undocumented students are left without many other alternatives.
I. Don't. Care.
You're an illegal alien. You do not have a right to be in this country. You've had jobs you weren't supposed to have. You've committed a felony by using a fake Social Security number. (How sad is it that a fake SS# is considered a thoughtful 18th birthday gift?) If there were any justice for those of us who are law-abiding citizens, you would be charged, convicted, and deported with no chance of ever becoming a citizen.
I may not be counting on that justice, but I'm a pretty hard worker myself and, believe me, I'm working on it.
Illegal Immigration * Illegal Alien * Dream Act * UCLA * Social Security Fraud