I can’t believe I’m about to defend Rick Perry, but here goes. This month the Texas governor has taken heat during his Presidential race for his policy of granting in-state tuition and financial aid to undocumented students who’ve done well in high school. The criticism, of course, is that these kids are “illegal” aliens. I don’t like calling people illegal (or aliens for that matter) because it’s dehumanizing. And dehumanization is how they get you to pass legislation that is immoral. Especially when you’re talking about children who probably work harder in school than a lot of American citizens. (They definitely work harder than I did.)
An article in the Texas Tribune referred to one such 18-year-old student as a “Mexico native” even though this young man told them, “I’ve never been to Mexico. I don’t remember it. I don’t know anything about it.” This kid—whose parents brought him to the United States when he was an infant—is a Mexico native like I’m a Pasadena native. Sure, I was born there, but I moved to Brownsville when I was 11 months-old. Or, I should say, my parents moved me there. I did not rent the U-Haul and pack up the house and drive on down Highway 77 to the Rio Grande Valley. No, my parents made that decision before I was cognitive.
“Most Republicans don’t understand my situation, that I really had no choice. I had no say in coming here,” he told the Tribune. But he’s exactly the kind of student that some Americans would say shouldn’t be receiving the in-state tuition to college that his good grades earned him. At the end of the day, don’t we want the smartest, hardest-working people on our team rather than ejecting them from the country because of something that was decided for them before they were old enough to think?
If there was a crime committed when these kids crossed the border, it wasn’t committed by them. They weren’t old enough to pay a coyote or read a map. These kids were brought by adults. Those adults may be undocumented fugitives, but these kids deserve amnesty before anyone else. And where better to start than with the ones who are already proving to be productive members of our society?
Oh, you say, but then all the Mexicans will be bringing their kids over here to steal from our system. God forbid we have a constant influx of hard-working poor people who are hungry enough to appreciate any opportunity thrown their way. No, we only want the over-privileged, native kids, too zoned out on video games to bother with homework. Very recently, Mitt Romney’s campaign released a new ad entitled, “Rick Perry: An Inspiration to Liberal California.”
Where do liberals in California get all their bad ideas? Rick Perry. First to give in-state tuition to illegal immigrants Rick Perry approved tax-payer funded state-aid for illegal immigrants attending college Rick Perry opposes E-verify Rick Perry: Supplying bad ideas to California since 2001.
This is why, for the ten years I lived in New York City, I was constantly telling people that Texas is not quite the conservative hotbed they like to think it is. Historically, compared with the surrounding border states, Texas has always recognized its economic interdependence with Mexico. After all, it was “liberal California” that was first to build the border wall, not Texas. And only Texas border mayors went to Washington, D.C. to protest the building of the fence in this state. At this point in history, however, it’s become impossible to win an election without one-upping your opponent in xenophobia.
I don’t believe for one second that most good-hearted, Christian Republicans would disagree with helping someone who wants to help himself. Can we stop spewing rhetoric we know in our hearts is wrong, just to win an election?
Educating fellow human beings will improve everyone’s quality of life. Why? Because that will be one less person on the dole, one more person who might grow up to be a teacher, an accountant, or a doctor. One more person who is more likely to educate themselves on good health practices and put less burden on the healthcare system. When one person wins, we all win. Let’s quit this “I’ve got mine, screw you!” attitude because it’s killing us as a nation.