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(Names changed for privacy)
"Hola, me llamo Zoe. Soy tu entrenadora. ¿Eres la hija de Rosa, si?" (Hi, I'm Zoe, your trainer. You're Rosa's daughter, right?)
"¿Como te llamas?" (What's your name?)
"¡Bien! ¿Quieres aprender la mesa?" (Awesome! Do you want to learn the table? — A.K.A food assembly)
"¡Oh, sí!" (Of course!)
"Okay. . . primero, el pan aquí. . . el papel aquí. . . y catsup y mustasa . . . y cebollas, pepinos. . . como eso. . . y dos quesos y dos carnes, porque en inglés, 'double' importa 'dos.' Y el papel como eso. . . y eso. . . ¡Buen trabajo!" (Okay. . . first, the bread goes here. . . the paper goes here. . . then ketchup and mustard. . . onions, pickles. . . like that. . . and two pieces of cheese and meat, because in English, 'double' means 'two.' Then, the paper gets folded like this, then like this. . . great work!)
I stayed over nearly two hours that day, if I remember right. But I still tell people that it was one of my favorite days at work because I got to train someone completely in Spanish. And she was the hardest worker I've ever met. Whenever I asked if she wanted to try something, she all but literally jump to it. She wanted to learn everything, and she did all her work diligently and quietly. Trabajadora. . . (Worker)
"¿Dónde está Rosa?" (Where's Rosa?)
"Tiene caso con su hija. . ." (She's got a court case with her daughter. . .)
And just like that, she was gone. That beautiful woman, so hard-working and so dedicated, was gone. She left behind her mother, a legal worker, and her two young children (one and two, I believe), who are legal residents. She returned to live with her grandmother in Guatemala. Her mother came back to work. "¿Estás bien?" (Are you okay?)
"Sí. . . no. Mi hija." And she told me the story. (Yes. . . no. It's my daughter.)
My heart breaks for Estrella and her family. I don't know what has happened since then, or where they are now.
What's the point of this story? Well, it gave me personal contact with the whole issue of immigration, whether legal or illegal. It gave me reason to really think about it from a personal level, and I'd like to share with you what I realized:
I one hundred percent support our president's desire to curb illegal immigration. I one hundred percent support that. But why? Why — especially after I witnessed the effects of deportation?
I support it because I never should have met Estrella. A woman with her work ethic shouldn't come to the U.S. and work in a fast food kitchen. No, a woman like that should be an LPN, a top-level case manager, or a CEO. She should be making a six-figure salary. She should be looked to as the shining example that she is. However, with our broken immigration system, it was far easier for her to slip through illegally than go through the system as a means of entry into America, the land of promise. (And I'm not just saying this because that's what Republicans say; I asked another immigrant coworker about immigration and he described it very simply as "muchos papeles. . . mucho dinero," "a lot of paperwork and a lot of money"). And what's more, when she arrived, the job she secured was a menial one flooded with (though I loved my job) many idiots who assumed they could do nothing and expect to have money thrown at them. She did not deserve that. She deserved better.
One day, I received and completed a presidential survey. On the comment section, I wrote the following, to which this whole story has been leading up:
I think compassion needs to be emphasized more highly than it is. This would help to reduce the tension between "warring" factions in political life. We should still hold to our opinions; however, we should work from our similarities. For instance, both Democrats and Republicans believe that people should be treated fairly. On the subject of immigration, Democrats take this to mean that anyone should be allowed into the country and given work, regardless of legal status. Republicans believe that these people should be qualified to work and consequently go through the proper legal procedures to prove their authenticity. As a way of describing this to others, I explain that the immigration laws are in place so that immigrants actually benefit. If they pass through regulations, they can obtain better jobs, which is the reason that they're coming in the first place. However, with a poor immigration system, even those that come legally as a way of securing a better job find themselves discriminated against because of the large amount of illegal immigrants.
So let's support immigrants by supporting immigration reform laws. Let's support them so that we can watch a pin ceremony for Mrs. Estrella, LPN. Let's support them so a child in the foster care system is reunited with his family through the work of Mrs. Estrella, LICSW.
. . .and let's support them so that you never have to train a CEO how to make a double cheeseburger.