Helena Rodriguez: I’m advocating an open-heart policy


By Helena Rodriguez

Guest Columnist

Today is El Diez y Seis de Septiembre. Sept. 16. Mexican Independence Day.

It makes me think of how, in many ways, the United States depends on Mexican immigrants and yet, in many ways, wants to be independent of them.

It also makes me think about how many Mexican immigrants depend on the U.S. for some things and yet, in some ways, want to live independent here, with a separate set of rules and cultures.

On this Sept. 16, I am thinking about the extremes of Donald Trump and Jorge Ramos, and somewhere in between are the in-betweeners, we Mexican-Americans.

Our ancestors did not cross the border. The border crossed them. We celebrate Cinco de Mayo and the Fourth of July. Our blood bleeds red for our Mexican brothers as it does for our fellow U.S. born ones.

When Trump said at his press conference last month to news celebrity Jorge Ramos, “Go back to your Univision!,” he may as well have said, “Go back to Mexico.” That borders on racism.

Not every immigrant is illegal. By the same token, though, Ramos — a Mexican-born news anchor — displayed a disturbing attitude of unprofessionalism and entitlement that I’ve seen in some Mexican immigrants as well as  in non-immigrants.

Now some of you will continue to disagree with me, but we should have a welcoming attitude toward immigrants seeking a better life. We have a moral responsibility to help the poor. Of course, Mexico should bear more of that responsibility too.

Also, immigrants should come seeking a hand up, not a hand out. As an immigrant, don’t just shout “El Grito de Dolores” on Mexican Independence Day. Read the Declaration of Independence. Learn it. Earn it.

As for us U.S.-born citizens, if you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the Irish, don’t twist your nose on Diez y Seis de Septiembre. Like the Irish, many Mexican immigrants are here to stay.

A guest speaker at the school where I teach told his story recently of crossing the Mexican border illegally with his family as a child. They came seeking a better life.

One day, acting on a tip, the border patrol knocked on their door. His father pulled out copies of his childrens’ report cards, straight As, and their perfect attendance awards. The border patrol left.

Today, this man is a U.S. citizen, a veteran of our war in Afghanistan, and is an elementary school principal. His dad was not a drug seller, rapist or murderer. His dad invested in the American dream. He gave back. If you want to stay here, do that.

I am not advocating for an open-door policy, but for an open-heart policy on both sides.

Helena Rodriguez is a Portales native. Contact her at: Helena-Rodriguez@hotmail.com

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