September 5, 2019

I am not illegal.

I am not a criminal.

I am a human being that yearns to be free!

In the shadows of the growing hate and immigrant bashing that is engulfing the United States I quietly celebrated my 40th birthday this week. I, like many of my immigrant brothers and sisters, live in constant dread and panic fearing that today in this current black-hearted hole that we call America our day will come and we will be caught, arrested, jailed and eventually deported to some God forsaken part of Mexico or Central America that we fear will lead to a death, that few will mourn. So in this week of my 40th birthday I thank La Virgen de Guadalupe for watching over me, guiding and protecting me. This week I am still free and alive.

I am a ghost without a home, I am an undocumented immigrant. In today’s Trump America, make no mistake, I am a criminal, an illegal alien that must be hunted down and caged. I have lived in the cold and heartless shadows of this country for over 33 years; where Father Gregory Boyle reminds us, “on the periphery of humanity, where the pain, suffering and need is the greatest.” The United States, then, has been my purgatory, a place that I desperately want to call home, but at every turn I am denied.

I was smuggled into this country when I was about 7 years old, a child, guilty only of being born to a single mother in desperate need to find a way of keeping her family from starvation and daily horrific violence in her native Mexico. Like so many of the children that were/are initially smuggled into this country as we grow into adulthood, we lose most of our connection to Mexico. This country then pulverizes and mongrelizes us into sub-human status, we all become rapist, terrorist, whores, gang bangers, leeches. All the while this nation reminds us every second of our miserable existence that in this hostile country that we are not American and never will be. We can never go home, because Mexico was never our home; we were just unfortunates to be born in a geographical/political warzone, at the mercy of everyone. We have no real home, and the semi-invisible ghost-like life that we lead in this country is criminalized at every turn.

I have survived 33 years in a country that has denied me the human right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. I can’t get a job legally, I can’t get into college legally, I can’t vote, I can’t call the cops. I am easily reduced by politicians and fear mongers to a statistical anomaly, a political talking point, a savage criminal, a pathetic scapegoat. Periodically I am hunted, rounded up, arrested and thrown into cages, made a prisoner of a society that I have served faithfully all my adulthood.

In this schizophrenic and hypocritical land of laws (for some) I must have legal “papers” to breathe freedom openly. Perversely, in order to have legal “papers,” I must somehow wipe away all of my 33 years of illegal existence in this country and return to a foreign and foreboding Mexico and pray for celestial intervention that I live long enough to complete the impossibly arduous process of legal immigration and re-entry into the United States, my estranged home of 33 years. How surreal is that?

Today worldwide there are millions of migrants (I am one of them) traversing the globe seeking out a country that will provide the peace, compassion, love and refuge from the violence, starvation, war, hatred and persecution that we are all desperately trying to escape. The journey that each and every one of us migrants takes is when all other options have been exhausted and there is no other choice, “al camino o muerte!” the road or death. That is what my mother did, that is why she smuggled me into this country 33 years ago, and that is why I am alive today, this week to celebrate my 40th birthday. One day before I die I hope that this country, my home, my country, will see the tragic error of its current inhumane immigration policies and transform itself back to the world’s beacon and a refuge for those persecuted and huddled migrant masses that yearn to be free.

Adelita de los Milagros (a pseudonym)
Oxnard

September 12, 2019

 Constitution and immigrants

John Jay’s letter regarding the Constitution and immigrants [Letters, Aug. 22, 2019] contains many troubling statements. His assertion that the constitution does not grant any rights to non-citizens is at odds with constitutional scholarship, as well as several Supreme Court rulings. He is correct that the term “immigrant” is not used in the Constitution. However, the terms “citizens” and “persons” are used and grant certain rights and privileges accordingly. Are we to believe that the Founders did not know the difference between a citizen and a person in the U.S.? If not, we must accept that they intended to grant certain rights to non-citizens present in this country, just as many Supreme Court rulings have. Note that the Constitution does not say “persons here legally,” “persons who are citizens,” “persons we like,” just “persons.”

Mr. Jay does not want anyone to “leap to the conclusion that I am against immigrants or a racist.” I do not know him and can’t comment on his inner thoughts and feelings. However, his assertion that he can’t be racist or anti-immigrant because he has black and Mexican family and friends and “only two white friends” is flawed. It demonstrates a fundamental lack of clarity regarding how racism/bigotry work on both a societal and individual level. One does not have to hold active, conscious racist attitudes to participate in and benefit from structural racism.

To deny that the Constitution grants rights to non-citizens may or may not come from a racist foundation. It certainly does not come from a factual one.

Matthew Bigelow
Ventura

 

John Jay,

Your submission about NO constitutional rights for non-U.S. citizens [Letters, Aug. 22, 2019] is laughable. The document was written over 200 years ago when roughly 25% of our nation’s states were nonexistent. The “sacred” document is in dire need of revisions which have yet to be made; including your 10 copies. For clarification purposes I am referring to articles five and 14 specifically. Successful court rulings show that immigrants, regardless of legal status, do indeed have rights. Nowhere is it stated in print that immigrants of any status lack or are deprived of rights; though, some are restricted just the same for U.S. citizens.

I am not calling you a racist, but I am calling you a fool (bigot if you chose). I have heard the same statement from my own “two white friends” who feel their opinion is valid by mentioning their black and Latino friends. It is not surprising your wife is of Mexican heritage but why bring her into it? Your hiding behind Jesus is typical of many “white Anglo-Saxon” individuals seeking opinion asylum. If you think your days in college still hold superiority on a “sacred” document, then I can only assume you are in your 60s or 70s; decades my senior. Until next time John Jay, I say good day.

Garrett Marshall
Ventura

September. 26, 2019

Thoughts on Climate Strike

Today I rode my bike down to Mission Park for the Climate Strike event that was happening there. I wore my March for Science t-shirt, took some pictures and talked to a lot of people before I realized something: I am sick of all of this.

I was involved in what we hippies in Phoenix thought was the first Earth Day. There was no Internet (or PCs or Smart Phones, etc.) so the word was spread by people calling people then people telling people about the day. We called it word-of-mouth communication. There was no formal organization, no central authority. We just showed up one morning at Encanto Park and started picking up trash and putting it in the proper receptacles. Some people drove by, laughed, and threw more garbage out of their cars. We just smiled, flashed them peace signs and picked up what they tossed out. If I go to the clean-up event at the Ventura Land Trust’s (VLT) Willoughby Preserve next month, I will pick up more trash like I have been doing with that group for over a decade. 

In the past 50 years, I have been a member of the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, Green Peace and VLT.  Fifty years and nothing has changed except that the planet has gotten hotter and more polluted. That is why I am sick of all of this.

I tried to tell a few people that things will continue as they are now if we don’t have the right politicians in place to make changes, politicians who care more about the Earth than Big Energy’s cash, but it was like shouting into the wind. They had their t-shirts, their clever signs and their righteous indignation and they were sure that this would “save” the planet. I was tempted to clue them in on the fact that man will never destroy the Earth, it will go on no matter what we do; only mankind will be destroyed and, sadly, some of the beautiful animals who share this planet with us. 

But maybe that is what is needed, maybe a species reset should happen so maybe a new class of man will arise that will respect our natural resources and work to protect them. 

I know that I won’t live to see this or any other end of mankind, however it happens, but I still care enough to do the thing now that will help the most: I will vote for candidates who have PROVEN that they give a damn about the planet. 

John Darling

Ventura