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From my desk.

The subject of immigration laws is so hot these days that one can barely go a single day without hearing anything about it. Of course, as with most every other issue in a democratic society, this one has both a strong faction supposing immigration controls up-to and including closing the border altogether, and an equally strong group of opponents, who defend the immigrants for their contributions to this country's socioeconomic system and defend the inviting opportunity that is available to them to reach "the American dream" once they get here. I'm not a politician, so I'm no going to enter into a useless diatribe of rhetoric here, but after paying close attention to the life stories of our featured guests, it occurred to me that a very important piece of this extremely complex issue maybe be getting 'lost in translation'.

In many casual conversations I've had with non-Latino friends, I've sensed that one of the driving forces behind their support for these restrictive laws is not based on actual facts or numbers, but rather on their culturally imbedded idea that everyone that is not "born and bred" here is, by definition, a lower class citizen. Try as I may to be objective about it, it becomes poignantly clear to me time and time again that in many cases, even when speaking to well-educated individuals, their bias against immigrants is solely based in the rather limited notion that America is only for "Americans" and that to these individuals, everybody else are just intruders whose presence creates a need for change and is a hassle they almost forcibly have to get used to. And change is not something that this culture is very well-known for.

The whole thing makes me sad because their views am so skewed sometimes that they won't even stop to listen to themselves talk, let alone to hear the argument that (gasp!) their ancestors were also, at one point, immigrants, and that it was their greatness that gave birth to this amazing nation.

It is at those times that I wish I could persuade them to read about people like Ralph De La Vega, COO of Cingular Wireless. As a child in his native Cuba, Ralph was separated from his parents at the airport on their way here and spent his first four years in this country alone, with friends, but without a family. Unquestionably, this event alone could have destroyed his spirit, but he chose instead to forge ahead and be successful, and today he stands, full of pride and optimism, as one of the most powerful and influential business leaders of this country. And the thing is, in one way or the other, Ralph's story repeats itself in the faces of any and all of the men and women who grace our pages, who are also the ones who got here, legally or otherwise, to effect positive change in this society by the sheer value of their efforts, and whose success have made this country all the better.

History is definitely repeating itself. I just wish that our Anglo brothers and sisters could understand that this time around, they're not coming in a ship called the Mayflower or by the droves via boats to Ellis Island. They're just simply jumping over a fence.

Wendy Pedrero

Editor

editors@latinoleaders.com

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Author:Pedrero, Wendy
Publication:Latino Leaders
Date:Jun 1, 2006
Words:553
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