An Eye-Opener of a Week for Me

by Community Change | February 4, 2013 12:00 am

I’ve been volunteering at the Latino Student Fund (LSF), a local nonprofit in Washington, DC, that provides “academic support to at-risk and underprivileged Latino youth,” for nearly two years. And it never dawned on me until this week that some of my students and their families may be suffering under our current broken immigration system. Why? To me, these kids are just that, kids. Students who need help in school so they can achieve their dreams.

One of my students is 12 years old and we have talked about fractions, negative numbers, American history and her science fair project.  We talk about her favorite member of the boy band One Direction, and the books she is reading in free time.  We’ve discussed her dream of going to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and eventually Harvard Medical School.

We’ve also talked about her mom, who works long hours at McDonalds, and her father, formerly an accountant in Peru, who holds down two jobs, one in a factory and one as a janitor. On his one day off, her father makes the long commute from their Virginia home to take his daughter to her tutoring session.

Of all of the things she and I talk about, immigration has not been on our list. Because to me, I don’t care what her citizenship status is. She needs my tutoring help and I’m happy to give it to help her achieve her dreams.

President Obama’s speech last week offered renewed hope for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship.  Margaret Mountjoy, Educational Programs Manager at LSF, is excited about what the reprioritization of immigration reform could mean for those active in LSF.  If passed, she believes the new policy could “make the American Dream accessible and real for so many of our families and help young and talented children reach their full potential through higher education.”

So this week has definitely opened my eyes to the importance of gaining comprehensive immigration reform. I hope that any of the families I know at LSF struggling with our immigration system will be given a pathway to citizenship very soon.

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