I wanted to put in my two cents on the question of dis-inclusion in the immigrant rights movement. It’s been really refreshing to hear more and more people lately saying that immigration is not pretty. It’s not fucking pretty! It wasn’t pretty in my family’s case or in any of my friends’ families cases.
“Dreamers,” or well-assimliated law-abiding young people brought here against their will, are not the majority of immigrants. Not even half. The first person in my family to migrate to the US from Sahuayo, Michoacan was my tia Emilia. She HAD TO move here–first to Santa Ana in the 80’s, then LA where she eventually met up with my mom, tias and tios– because she had seen her younger sister Pina die of appendicitis that wasn’t treated on time because the nearest hospital that dealt with that was in another town. She saw my grampa Damian have his leg amputated and eventually die of gangrene from his diabetes.
My tia got diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 15 and to escape the fate of others in her family had no choice but to hustle by herself to El Norte, get her papers and get on dialysis which she remained on for 15+ years. She was able to see her son be born and raise the rest of us, her nieces and nephews, as if we were her own because she had access to healthcare. She would travel back and forth between her hometown of Sahuayo and LA whenever her health would allow. She didn’t want to be here but she had to because of her disability.
So to the extend that the question of immigration and inclusion is a pretty, colorful and cute pic of young twenty-somethings, it isn’t my story. It isn’t even close to my story. My older brother, a math genius, is not even a Dreamer. He hustles every day just to eat. As long as the immigration narrative is so narrow, and intentionally so, it’s just more of the same white supremac– y bullshit to me.