Friday, October 29, 2010

Because My Dad Came Back

A conversation I had with one of my students this week seemed to illustrate perfectly the sort of double-edged sword that is our broken immigration policy.  I can't actually vouch for any of his story being true, but it seemed perfectly genuine as he explained it to me.

"Armando" was born in the US -  San Diego, specifically, where his mother had explicitly traveled for the purposes of guaranteeing him papers.  They then returned to Mexico for some brief period, after which they moved permanently to the US.

Armando plays tough, but is a softy at heart.  He wears the gang clothes and talks the gang language (generally bragging about the fights and drugs he does).  Having ended up credit deficient at a continuation high school, his stubborn attitude toward schoolwork belies a healthy intellect and focus when he wants it.   His plan is to get his GED and move to Santa Monica, live with a friend and take culinary arts classes at the community college.

But like many of his peers, he expresses an ebullient contempt for the world.  "Life sucks," he says.  More specifically, "people suck."  Why?  "You can't trust 'em".  Recently his car was broken into and all of his expensive stereo equipment was stolen.  Life seems all daggers.

Armando was kicked out of the comprehensive high-school for selling drugs.  So he decided to take a year off and not go to school at all.  I asked him why he was selling drugs.  "For the money," he told me, explaining that he needed to help pay the bills.  "I had to after my Dad got deported."  I asked him if his mother knew where the money was coming from.  He had a construction job on the side and told her the money came from there.  But he isn't selling drugs any more.

Why not, I asked.  "Because my Dad came back".

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