News

Fates of undocumented 'Dreamers' hang in balance

For the first time since 1986, the U.S. Congress is poised to overhaul the nation's immigration laws.

The Senate is set to vote on a reform bill by the July 4 weekend, as the House continues to internally debate its own version.

If the bill were to pass, Laura Tovar, a 22-year-old undocumented paralegal working at Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, would be able to keep her recently acquired driver's license, her job and her plan to go to law school in the fall.

Irving Rodriguez, an undocumented Stanford University sophomore who is passionate about biology and immigration reform, would be able to put his degree and talent to use in the United States when he graduates.

Edgar Soto, a recent Henry M. Gunn High School graduate with no papers, ID or Social Security number, would eventually be able to obtain all these things and pursue his dreams of becoming an architect or police officer.

Above all, the proposed bill would create a 13-year path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally, finally putting Tovar, Rodriguez and Soto on a path out of the legal limbo they have been in since coming to the United States as children.

The "Gang of Eight," the U.S. Senate's bipartisan immigration-reform team, filed the 867-page bill in April. As it is, the bill would strengthen the nation's borders, create a mandatory system to ensure employers verify employees' legal statuses and outline a path to citizenship with many criteria for the estimated 11 million immigrants currently living in the United States illegally.

Tovar's future has long depended on the promise and passage of immigration legislation. She found out she was undocumented in 2008, her senior year at Menlo-Atherton High School, when she needed a Social Security number for college applications and financial aid.

"My world turned upside down, honestly," she said of her discovery.

The California Dream Act -- which allows aspiring college students who are undocumented to apply for state and institutional financial aid -- had not yet passed. So a private scholarship helped Tovar pay for her four years at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she majored in politics combined with Latin American studies and a minor in literature.

As graduation loomed last year, she was still without papers, a Social Security number, a driver's license or a work permit.

Her dreams -- to take the bar examination, go to law school and live without fear of deportation -- again hung in the balance.

Meanwhile in Chicago, Rodriguez, too, had to learn how to live without a driver's license, figure out how to pay for college and cope with the fear that speaking out about his legal status could lead to his parents' -- and possibly his own -- deportation.

"Several of my friends had their moms and dads deported," Rodriguez said. "They'd be left with nobody else to stay with. They'd basically have to move back, too, because they had no other choice.

"So I went through that, and I never really found a way to help impact a movement or do anything for the (federal) DREAM Act."

"DREAM" stands for "Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors."

His freshman year at Stanford, Rodriguez found out about "The Dream Is Now," a documentary and campaign dedicated to supporting the DREAM Act and comprehensive federal immigration reform. He got involved and became the campaign's campus representative for Stanford.

If the federal immigration bill does not pass, Rodriguez will face the same fate as Tovar did when she graduated from college. Rodriguez is eligible for a federal program that allows certain undocumented immigrants to apply for a work permit, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But the program is in jeopardy, as the House voted to cut its funding on June 6, and might not exist when Rodriguez exits Stanford.

Soto, who came to the United States four years ago, is starting classes at Foothill College this summer.

The likelihood of either of his career dreams becoming reality without an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws is small. But Soto hopes to carve out a life for himself in the United States as best he can under current limitations.

Laura Tovar

The same day Laura Tovar graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, last year, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Deferred Action allows undocumented youth who were brought to the United States as children to obtain work permits if they meet certain criteria.

Tovar, meeting all the requirements, submitted her application and was granted deferred action status in October.

This meant she could work full-time -- legally -- at Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, where she had been interning since her college graduation. It also allowed her to finally apply for her driver's license; she took her driving test in late May and passed. Before, she was driving illegally to and from work, as using public transportation from Sunnyvale, where she now lives, would take almost two hours.

"Now that I have my license, I feel more secure," she said. "Before I was just scared to drive with friends or family members in the car. I offer to take them everywhere now. I'm not afraid anymore. I'm like, OK, there's nothing to hide."

Tovar, a soft-spoken, shy but eloquent 22-year-old who came to the United States illegally 10 years ago, said that growing up, she always thought she was "the same as anyone else."

"And then I wanted to work, to apply for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and financial aid. The college adviser would tell me, 'You cannot apply for FAFSA, you cannot apply for this scholarship because you don't have a Social Security number.'

"I would run to Mom and ask, 'Why do I not have a Social Security number?' And then it's like, 'Oh yeah, you're undocumented.'"

Tovar said her parents decided to leave Mexico because they felt unsafe there.

"It was the corruption that was going on. There's not a lot of security; the police don't do much around that area," she said. "My family felt very insecure."

Tovar's family paid someone to bring them -- her father, mother, 10-year-old sister and 4-year-old brother -- across the Mexico-Arizona border.

She said her family drove to the border and stayed in a small house full of strangers -- other immigrants waiting to cross the border.

"Our time came when my mother said, 'It's our time to cross.' I remember hiding in the bushes with my two younger siblings and mother. My mother and the other people that were with us were telling us that we needed to stay quiet. I thought that we were playing hide and seek. I remember not taking it too serious. I remember seeing a big border right in front of us. I remember jumping through the border into the other side. My brother asked what we were doing, and my mom told him that we were looking for rabbits and that he needed to stay quiet so we wouldn't scare them away."

Once they crossed the border, Tovar said she and her family hid inside a fruit truck for two hours, standing upright in between boxes of fruit. She remembered being scared of getting separated from her family, who were hiding elsewhere in the truck. She was surrounded by strangers.

"It was ... a very risky experience," she said. "My parents were very brave to put us in that type of situation. They cared about our future! We had left everything behind -- my teddy bear, friends, family, our home."

Once in the United States, Tovar and her family stayed with relatives in Redwood City. Tovar started school at the McKinley Institute of Technology, a public middle school in Redwood City that offers bilingual programs. She ended up moving to Adelantes School, a dual Spanish-English immersion public school in Redwood City, where she finished sixth grade. She then transferred to the Girls' Middle School in Palo Alto to be at the same school as her younger sister. She went there on a scholarship provided by the school.

Like many other young immigrants, Tovar faced a huge language barrier in her new schools.

"There wasn't anyone that I could relate to in the school or that even spoke Spanish other than my Spanish teacher," she remembered. "I didn't know how to get around or how to talk to professors. It was difficult."

Tovar had to repeat seventh grade because of her difficulty learning English. But once she was ready for high school, she applied to many private schools in the area. She said that she had eventually come to like the atmosphere at her small, private middle school and wanted the same for high school. She was accepted at a high school with that kind of environment -- Notre Dame High School in Belmont -- but her family couldn't afford the tuition, so she went to Menlo-Atherton.

M-A is where she realized what that 2002 trip across the border meant for her future: Without a Social Security number, she was blocked from applying for Cal Grants and other state aid. She said she ended up applying for more than 20 private scholarships and was eventually granted one by the Peninsula College Fund.

Tovar thrived in college -- taking on three concentrations of study, getting interested in going to law school, starting L.E.A.D (Legal Education Association for Diversity), a club whose mission is to help minority students get the resources and information they need to go to law school and, as a result, make law schools more diverse. Tovar was inspired to create L.E.A.D. her senior year, after she approached multiple UCSC advisers for help in the law-school application process. She said they all responded in the same way: that they did not know how to help an undocumented student from her background pave his or her way to law school.

Tovar was also involved with Students Informing Now (SIN), a UCSC student activist group that provides information, resources and support for undocumented and documented immigrant students. She first got involved with SIN her sophomore year, in 2009, and it wasn't until then that she felt comfortable enough to publicly state her legal status as undocumented.

Sophomore year of college was also momentous for Tovar in another way: Her mother, who had married an American citizen in 2008, had to go back to Mexico to request a waiver as part of her application for residency.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services allows immigrant-visa applicants who are spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens to apply for provisional unlawful presence waivers. These waivers permit applicants to leave the United States, go back to their country of origin and obtain a waiver of inadmissibility ("It's like you're saying, 'Sorry that I entered the U.S. illegally,'" Tovar explained), which is necessary to apply for an immigrant visa.

Through Tovar's stepfather, her mother, brother and sister were able to apply for green cards and obtain residency. But because Tovar was older than 18 years, she was ineligible.

Her family returned to Mexico to go through the waiver process, leaving her alone for a year. (Until March of this year, immigrant-visa applicants who are immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen could not begin the waiver-application process until they left the United States, and many immigrant family members became separated for long periods of time.)

And as graduation quickly approached and most other seniors were making post-graduation plans, Tovar said she feared that after graduation, she would be back at square one.

"I thought to myself, it was so hard just to get to this level, getting to college and be able to pay for tuition and stay here. Then, I asked myself, 'Now what?'"

With no Social Security number, papers or work permit, a college diploma would mean nothing.

She said she considered "doing what everyone else does," getting fake identification so she could work.

"I was just thinking of extreme circumstances. I needed work. I didn't have any other options."

But with the announcement of the Deferred Action program in June 2012, she could legally work at Community Legal Services.

Tovar also plans to take the LSAT in October and hopes to go to the Santa Clara University School of Law or UC Hastings College of the Law, a plan contingent on the existence of deferred action and the passage of the Senate's immigration bill.

But Deferred Action is true to its name -- it's a two-year postponement of action on her illegal status, a temporary bridge over the seemingly insurmountable mountains standing between Tovar and her dreams. After two years, she will need to reapply.

"There's no guarantee that Deferred Action is still going to be around two years from now," she said. "If it ends, I don't know if I'm going to be able to work and practice law in a few years."

When asked what she would do if Deferred Action ends or the bill doesn't pass, Tovar sighed and paused, searching for a response.

"I don't know what I would do," she said. "I don't want to go back there (to Mexico). My life is completely different. I grew up here. My family is here; they're resident citizens."

Edgar Soto

Edgar Soto became the first in his family to graduate from high school on May 29.

Soto's mother, Theresa Canares, spent most of the graduation ceremony at Henry M. Gunn High School walking around the perimeter of the event without regard for her high heels, searching for her son so she could place a lei around his neck. She finally found him as he was about to walk on stage and receive his diploma, clearly excited.

Just four years ago, Soto was with his older brother and sister-in-law somewhere near the Mexico and U.S. border without food or water, hoping to get to the United States.

Soto was born in Hidalgo, Mexico. His mother moved to the United States when he was a child to escape Soto's father, who he said was abusive. Soto and his older brother stayed with his father, who made them work in construction starting at 8 years old, he said.

"One day (my brother) told me, 'Let's go to the United States' (to be) with my mom. And I said yes, because my father ... it was bad."

He said he also has a difficult relationship with his older brother, miming punching with his hands, explaining that their father taught them to fight instead of communicate with each other.

On a recent afternoon, two weeks before his graduation, Soto sat on a bench at Gunn, telling his story. One of the most striking things about Soto is the contrast between how he expresses himself in English and Spanish. When he speaks in English, his words are disjointed, confusing, unsure. In Spanish, he is eloquent, smooth and confident.

He remembers his journey from Mexico to the United States well but had to switch between his still-broken English to Spanish to fully explain what happened. He said he and his brother paid a coyote to take them across the border.

"We tried six or seven times (to cross), but once we crossed. After we crossed, the coyote abandoned us. He left us alone in the middle of the desert," he said in Spanish.

Soto said they walked three nights and two days without food or water. They stumbled upon a train and decided to climb on top of it -- not knowing if it might take them back to Mexico.

They eventually found themselves in Arizona.

"We see everything in English," he remembered. "We say, 'Oh yes, it's the U.S.'"

They slept in the back of a church that night. The next morning, they met a man from El Salvador who took them to his home and let them shower, change clothes and eat. Soto called his mother, who he hadn't spoken to in 13 years and was living in Palo Alto with her second husband.

Soto's stepfather drove from California to Arizona to pick them up. It was the first time they met.

"He's a Mexican like us," Soto said of his stepfather. "But he's a good person. My real father, he was aggressive ..." he trailed off, searching for the right words to express himself in English. "I come here. ... It was difficult to change my life."

Soto moved in with his mother and stepfather on Emerson Street in Palo Alto and attended JLS Middle School, which has an English Language Learners program. But Soto said his first two years were difficult because he didn't pick up English easily. The grammar was hard, he said.

He went on to Gunn, where he continued to struggle with his English, said Rick Jacobs, a teacher who spent three years with Soto in Gunn's English Learner Program.

Jacobs said he has recommended "over and over" that Soto enroll in an intensive English program for his first year at Foothill College next year.

"He understands that's what he needs to do," Jacobs said. "If he doesn't, he won't be able to do much more than work in a restaurant."

Soto said some classes at Gunn have been hard, due to his problems with English.

But he has high hopes for himself, especially to help his mother, who works at a local catering company.

"(My mother) works hard," Soto said. "I want to give a little bit. I want to learn English and be better than my father and my brother. My mom, she gave me a better life."

He said he's not sure what he wants to study, but one of his dreams is to be an architect.

"I want to make a new world," he explained. "I want to do a different world."

"I want to study and help people who need help," he added. "I want to increase my level because my mom doesn't finish middle school, and my father either. I want to be the first one who helps others."

Soto said he's enrolled in three smaller-unit classes at Foothill for this summer -- "The Road To College Success -- More Than Just Books," "Introduction to College" and "Lifelong Learning Strategies" -- to prepare for the fall. He will pay for his Foothill tuition in part with a $3,000 Gunn Foundation scholarship he was awarded this year. The scholarship is need-based, given to graduating seniors whose annual family income is less than $100,000, to help them pay for their next step in education. Soto also received a financial aid package under the California Dream Act. He could also benefit from Deferred Action but until recently was unaware about the legislation and is unsure how to apply.

When asked what he thinks about the debate over illegal immigration, Soto again switched to his native language.

"Can I say it in Spanish?" he asked. "If (immigrants) want to make their dreams come true, they need to believe in themselves and believe that they can do anything they want."

Irving Rodriguez

Irving Rodriguez is a rising sophomore at Stanford University.

He's on a full-ride scholarship, studying physics and considering adding a minor in economics. He's a member of Stanford's club soccer team, Stanford Coaching Corps and the Society of Physics Students.

He's also in the United States illegally -- and he's broken through the fear to state that publicly.

"My name is Irving Rodriguez, and I am an undocumented immigrant," he posted on his Facebook page on April 23.

This was the first time Rodriguez, one of fewer than a dozen undocumented students at Stanford, publicly announced his illegal status.

He did so immediately after attending a screening of "The Dream Is Now," a documentary that tells the stories of four Dreamers, each of whom utters the same line: "My name is 'blank,' and I am an undocumented immigrant."

The documentary is linked to a campaign of the same name that supports comprehensive immigration reform.

A conversation at the screening with one of the film's Dreamers, Alejandro Morales, inspired Rodriguez to publicly come out as undocumented and also to commit himself to the Dream Is Now campaign as its Stanford campus representative. The campaign coordinates documentary screenings across the country, lobbies Congress and serves as a resource on immigration legislation.

"At that point, I think it impacts the community more if you're able to be a leader through that way and not just an ally," he said of his decision to announce his status on Facebook. "It's much more powerful if you're a Dreamer."

He added that he hadn't been publicly open about his status before out of fear for his parents.

"I didn't really know what the consequences of publicly saying I'm an undocumented immigrant would be. With the whole campaign and the way the (federal immigration) bill is looking now, I just realized it's better for all of us if I stand up and say, 'Yeah, that's part of my identity, and that's who I am.'"

Rodriguez, now 19 years old, was born in Coahuila, Mexico, which borders Texas. He remembers an early morning in July 2001 when he was 8 years old: He was awoken by his mother and got on a Greyhound bus instead of going to school. He thought they were going to visit his father in Alabama, as he had done with his mother and two older siblings many times before.

"I was mostly puzzled at the suddenness, but I accepted it because I had no idea that would be the last time I'd be home," he said. "About halfway through the trip, I recall looking up to see (my brother) glancing through the window. I made it a habit to pick up cues from him when I was little. Our eyes locked, and I could tell from his expression that this would be a polarizing experience. Neither of us fully understood what was going on, but that exchange has stuck with me."

Rodriguez's father had been living in the United States since 1989, working at a restaurant. Rodriguez's mother decided to move the family to Chicago, where an uncle was living, after Rodriguez's paternal grandfather died in 2001.

His parents immediately tried enrolling him and his older sister and brother in school so they could learn English.

As an 8-year-old, he said, he found that picking up a foreign language was easier for him than his older siblings.

"In the end, though, we all managed," he said. "We had to. Language was just another obstacle."

He described his new life in the United States as "normal" and without problems until high school, when most of his friends were getting their driver's licenses. He told close friends about his illegal status but became accustomed to making up excuses for why he couldn't drive a car.

He said the "bigger emotional impact" for him was not his own struggles but rather other undocumented immigrants'.

In his neighborhood in Chicago, there were two high schools -- one more affluent and distinguished and another much less so. Rodriguez attended the former but lived in the same neighborhood as kids from the latter high school.

He said Dreamers in the neighboring high school were often racially profiled and insulted in school because of their status.

"They also had a tougher time going through high school because they missed out on the opportunities that make the experience more personal," Rodriguez added. "They couldn't get jobs, a driver's license, and had little to no help during the college application process. They even faced adversity back home because a few of them had close family members under deportation."

This inspired him to get involved with the Dream Is Now campaign, to fight for change on behalf of himself and others. He applied to serve as the campaign's campus representative for Stanford.

When he was offered the position, Rodriguez said he jumped up and down and accidentally knocked over a friend's laptop in the excitement.

"I've always wanted to help out on this issue but never had a concrete way of doing it," he said. "I felt really empowered when I found out that I could have a true impact, especially in communities I was involved in, not just nationwide but around people that I care about in Stanford and Chicago."

Depending on what kind of bill Congress passes -- or doesn't pass -- Rodriguez might graduate in three years with Deferred Action as his only option for putting his Stanford degree to use in the United States.

He received his Deferred Action papers this week and is waiting for his Social Security card to arrive in the mail. He said the first thing he plans to do with it is to get his driver's license.

"I like Deferred Action," Rodriguez said. "It gives us something at least that we can do. ... Go out and work and get driver's license(s) and use that for whatever (we) need for (our) daily lives.

"But it's not a permanent solution. It shouldn't be the only way that we have to get work authorization in three years."

He said the Senate bill is a crucial improvement on current policy like Deferred Action or the repeatedly proposed federal DREAM Act.

"(The bill) reaches a higher population, a broader population than just the 16-to-25-year-olds that are here now and looking for work and studying," he said, referring to the DREAM Act. "That way you can capture all the kids who aren't fortunate to be going to school because of their family situation, all the parents who are outside the window the DREAM Act offers."

For a 19-year-old whose own future is currently being heatedly debated in the House and Senate, Rodriguez holds a surprisingly reasoned opinion of the government's handling of immigration reform.

"My big thing with the government is that they never handle things with rational decisions. At least that's what it seems like to me. So if they actually sat down and started analyzing the economic costs and benefits of passing something like comprehensive reform, then they would pass it immediately."

For now, though, Rodriguez said he feels "the glass is half full." He's at home in Chicago for the summer, spending time with his family and doing some studying on his own -- he casually wrote in an email that he plans to learn a computer programming language and read up on physics.

He also plans to continue his Dream Is Now involvement by coordinating screenings in local churches and schools and keeping his community updated on the status of the federal immigration bill.

"If (immigration reform) doesn't get done this year, then in coming years the pressure is just going to be huge -- too big to ignore," he said. "At this point, I think it's only a matter of time."

Sidebars

Immigration legislation policy primer

Immigration reform in dollars and cents

Comments

Posted by Green Card Holder, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 21, 2013 at 8:30 am

Illegal immigrants should not get any path to citizenship, but I have no objection to giving them the same rights as visa holders or green card holders.




I have a green card and I am here legally. It costs me money, professional legal services, and a test, apart from time and energy for me to get citizenship. I have already had to have tb test and fingerprinting too. Giving illegals something that I have to go through hoops to get is wrong.




I have no strong opinion on giving them a blue card which does not give them a US passport, voting or jury rights. Giving them more rights than I have is unfair to those of us who are here legally


Posted by Calliope Sunshine, a resident of Los Altos
on Jun 21, 2013 at 8:46 am

GC Holder - you got yours, pull the ladder up behind you? That's what's wrong with my party these days, they won't ewven allow the farm bill to help feed the poor. JC is ashamed somewhere...

This was the response to your post in the other thread, which mysteriously vanished (gremlins!) I'll repeat under you post here.

As a fiscal conservative, decreasing the federal deficit by $197 billion sounds good.

And I suppose it was good enough for Reagan to amnesty everyone, so why not do it again?

Frankly, in raw political terms, until the GOP amnesties everyone, they will continue to get clobbered at national elections. Obama won hispanics 70-30 last time out. But they say Texas will turn blue in a decade or so, due to the hispanic vote, so maybe it doesn't make a difference. Without Texas in the future, Romney's landslide blowout will look like a picnic!

2016 may be the last chance this version of the GOP has to take the white house. No wonder they're fabricating things about Hillary already. They'll also have to shave the person of color vote down by 20 or more points. Tough row to hoe...

Gotta get used to a blue world. I'm Calli in Cali, after all...


Posted by Green Card Holder, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 21, 2013 at 8:49 am

Sunshine

Reread my post. I am happy to give you the same as me, just don't expect to get more than me.


Posted by slippery slope, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2013 at 8:52 am

Whatever scheme and thousands of pages of a bill is agreed upon, with who knows what costly plans like requirements to learn English (ha!) -- at whose expense, how, who will test, what will the threshold be -- just ridiculous-- it will lead to open borders and a heavy dependency class. We taxpayers, citizens, green card holders, all those who came here legally (or our ancestors did) CANNOT afford to let the entire world in here to become our dependents.
-We don't know who comes in. Improve border security, add to the southern border fences. Immediately deport any illegal aliens who come into contact with any law enforcement.
-Many illegals commit crime and fill our prisons and jails.
-Health is not checked; now we have problems with TB and other diseases.
-Test scores have plummeted in places like CA, and costs have risen astronomically owing to free lunch programs, bilingual ed, and other bennies handed out to illegals
- Illegals may have fake driving licenses; they DO cause accidents/injuries/deaths and don't have auto insurance
- Enemies of the U.S., from drug cartels to Islamic terrorists, to uneducated persons can enter any time, contrary to the practices of other countries that have closed borders, sensible policies that are enforced.
Why should all this be given a pass in THIS country when it is NOT in other countries?!
All we need to do is enforece our current federal law, enforce our sovereignty and borders like any other country. Require E-verify for employment. Stop the practice of foreigners coming here to give birth to anchor babies. I strongly disagree this will end with one simple scheme; it will lead to a rush to enter our country illegally, and then continuing waves. We need to take the attractive candy away: free education/bilingual education, free healthcare and all the other bennies. Sanctuary cities should be sued for violation of current federal law.


Posted by Slippery Slope Fallacies, a resident of Atherton
on Jun 21, 2013 at 10:40 am

At least poster Slippery Slope correctly identifies her fallacious style of logic - the dreaded slippery slope!

The dreaded slippery slope, ie.. if we let in illegal aliens, pretty soon it leads to a slippery slope of letting in real aliens, and then, the next thing you know, Will Smith is helping an extraterrestrial alien give birth in the back of a 66 Dodge Polara station wagon!

Could happen.

;-)

Or we can defeat her silly slippery slope statements with substitution. Instead of Latinos, let's substitute, Italians, Irish, African Americans, Whites or, HEAVEN FORBID, Palo Altans:

- the IRISH are "a heavy dependency class."

- "Immediately deport any ITALIANS who come into contact with any law enforcement." (hey, they're just mobbed up! props to the late great Gandolfini!)

- "Many (substitute) AFRICAN AMERICANS commit crime and fill our prisons and jails." Yeah, try and sell that one in a public forum, all you imagination haters!

- from Native Americans "Health is not checked; THOSE DAMN EUROPEANS! now we have problems with TB and other diseases."

- from the Dust Bowl era (think Steinbeck): "Test scores have plummeted in places like CA, and costs have risen astronomically owing to free lunch programs, bilingual ed, and other bennies handed out to WHITES FROM OKLAHOMA!!!!"

- think of the early 1940's: "Enemies of the U.S., from drug cartels to Islamic terrorists, to uneducated persons can enter any time, contrary to the practices of other countries that have closed borders, sensible policies that are enforced -- THROW ALL THE JAPS INTO CAMPS!!!"

- let's just localize it: "Palo Altans DO cause accidents/injuries/deaths and (sometimes)don't have auto insurance"

It's a slippery slope, I tell ya...

Web Link

BEWARE! FEAR! ALIENS!

(funny that Fox is now supporting immigration and leaving the fringe way out on the right!)

RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!




Posted by betterthannobill, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2013 at 12:56 pm

1. What is crazy is that it takes 867 pages to craft a bill to deal with this subject.
2. More crazy is that so many people are known and have been known as undocumented illegals (else how were names obtained and interviews done). Why has so little legal action been taken over the past decades? It might have alleviated our current situation. Or if 'sweeps' had been done regularly, it might have caused us to address the problem before it got this big.
3. I am glad that we are not giving blanket amnesty. I agree that being here illegally should not let you bypass the line entirely.
4. However, I think the 10+3 year plan is probably reasonable. It is certainly not possible now to deport 11+ million people. And I am highly in favor of the DREAM program; it was not the kids fault.
5. Notwithstanding their illegal status, many (probably most) of those 11 million are normal people trying to lead regular lives. I suspect that only a small portion are persons that the government should actively seek to find and deport.


Posted by Seniora de biblioteca, a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2013 at 1:19 pm

1."Soto moved in with his mother and stepfather on Emerson Street in Palo Alto" - isn't it a public (affortable rates) housing? prime location with rents (depending on income) $600-1,400?

2.parents of pofessionals with two incomes also live there - the children who brought those parents in after becoming US citizens (either techies formerly on H-visas or Jewish or other refugees) taking advantage of chip housing

3. yes, we need to legalize the children who were brought here illigally, but with condition that they cannot sponsor brining members of their families in


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Is there a math error in the 22-year-old's license showing an April 1989 birthdate?


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 21, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Green Card Holder - I appreciate your perspective. Living amongst undocumented folks, I experience the upside & downside ongoingly. My spouse is a green card holder & my father a legal immigrant who's been a citizen for decades.

On the undocumented folks' behalf, let me say, they do seem to pay in sweat equity, repression & fear. They don't have the freedom that you do, or that my spouse does. They're often afraid to engage in the community, & the schools & cities suffer as a result. Their financial restrictions are great, so they create workarounds that are often also illegal & create inconveniences for folks like me. They trap themselves w/their own illegal status here, but for them life is better.

I once worked w/an undocumented teenager who'd recently marched for rights in some parade, using the Mexican flag. I was surprised at how appalled I was. I advised her if she wanted respect & support for her cause, to use the American flag in her marches, since after all, this is the country where she wanted to stay.

I also get angry with how I get treated, as a woman, but a lot of the men in my area. It's despicable - & their gender doesn't entitle them to share my rights, as a citizen. Of course, that has nothing to do w/legal status, but I guess my attitude is that if you're circumspect & respectful, don't make waves, do your work & live a quiet life, any chances at amnesty will be easier.

I'd love to see the impact of Latina women in this area in a few decades, once they have a chance at citizenship, education & equality!


Posted by A single truth, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 21, 2013 at 11:31 pm

One truth is that whenever foreigners, legal or not, just visiting, on vacation, on a business trip, or whatever, enter this country their health status is never checked, even when they are obviously sick! I think the US and Thailand are the only countries with airports that let travelers in regardless of their health status!

A friend of ours was detained in quarantine for three weeks because he had a residual cough from a cold... This was at Narita Airport outside of Tokyo. He had no fever or congestion, just a tickle in his throat, but it was mandatory that he be quarantined due to his cough. he was released two weeks after the conference he was there to attend was over!

In my European travels, I have been pulled aside and questioned about my health and exposure to any communicable diseases many times, even though I showed absolutely no sign of illness.

Why does this country allow people who are coughing, sniffling, blowing their noses, flush with fever, wearing masks, broken out in rashes, etc to enter at will? Why do their own countries allow them to board a flight when obviously ill? This is how pandemics start!


Posted by Fed up, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 22, 2013 at 9:34 pm


No citizenship for illegals whose children (any age) put ugly graffiti all over the place. They should make sure their children behave responsibly. If they came to this country, they shouldn't make it ugly.


Posted by Enough Already!, a resident of Stanford
on Jun 23, 2013 at 11:44 am

Should there should be any numerical limits to how many immigrants the US accepts, and if so what should the limit be? Likewise, should we be concerned that the US has the highest rate of population growth of any high-consumption country, and should we aim to stabilize our population? If you are opposed to the latter, would you favor a program to grow our population by encouraging larger families, rather than by expanding immigration as the bill in Congress is intended to do?


Posted by Free Market, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Have the government " grow our population by encouraging larger families"?????

Wow. Really?

"and should we aim to stabilize our population?"

Do that and the stock market goes down immediately when that law becomes obvious.


Posted by Free Market, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2013 at 5:00 pm

It is, after all, the large corporations that are pushing immigration reform. They're the ones that got together and told Fox that it was ix-nay on the immigration bashing, and they stopped immediately. Corporations love cheap labor to drive wages down. Go look in the parking lot of a WalMart at night and see who is sub-contracted to clean it.

That's great, the free market at work so my tee shirts cost a dime less.

Who cares if my neighbor is unemployed?


Posted by Green Card Holder, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 23, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Immigration has two facets.

First off we have illegal immigration which is generally poor people who come here to better themselves.

Secondly, we have well educated immigrants who often come here for college either undergrads or post grads. Whether they come here with the intention of getting an education and returning home, they often choose to stay here. These people then often "import" family members, either parents to looks after their kids, or spouses from arranged marriages. Some come here to get high tech jobs and they of course also often bring family too.

Each of these types of immigrants cause different immigrant situations. My story is probably the same as many others, work but from working for an American company and obtaining an in house transfer. Getting here on a H1 or L1 visa, or student visa, and then obtaining a green card, is reasonably easy and often all the paperwork is done by the employer. Getting citizenship is not just as easy and is usually done by the individual without any help from the employer. It is also much easier to bring in other relatives once citizenship has been obtained. Also, once a visa holder or green card holder has a child here, that anchor child makes a huge difference to whether the parent stays or decides to go back to the old country. Once a child has been born and goes to school, it is a much more difficult situation to go back with an Americanized child who may not transfer well to a different educational system.

Putting all immigrants into the same discussion makes no sense. Many people, like myself, are fully contributing to the economy, creating much for the US to be proud and much for the welfare of US citizens. Many illegal immigrants do what US citizens may not want to do, but many of them on the other hand are just drains on the system.

When making comments, it is worth thinking that you can't put all situations in the same basket. What is true for one group, is not true for all.


Posted by PA parent, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 23, 2013 at 7:31 pm

I think where folks stand on relaxed immigration laws simply reflects whether they're looking to hire (skilled and/or low-wage) workers or looking for work themselves.


Posted by NationOfLaws, a resident of Stanford
on Jun 24, 2013 at 9:18 am

It never ceases to amaze me how selectively the media chooses to portray the illegal immigration topic. Judging by the media picture alone, every illegal immigrant is a paragon of virtue, hard work, and aspiration. They work hard! They pay taxes! They contribute to the economy by doing the jobs no American will do! They are to be pitied because of the precariousness of their existence here!

Very well. In some cases, sure, those things may be true. However, the media willfully turns a blind eye to the very negative consequences of illegal immigration. We have effectively been importing poverty for the past 40 years.

Have you visited the Fair Oaks neighborhood of Redwood City recently? It is a barrio. Looked at the performance of California schools? Middle class parents who value education won't even consider sending their kids to most of the public elementary schools in Redwood City because of the extremely high percentage of Spanish-speaking students, who inevitably drag down the education level of the schools.

Illegal immigration contributes tremendously to crime, gangs, and our prison population. Nortenos and Surenos, anyone? The quality of life gets dragged down in whole neighborhoods by illegal immigrants who, because of their poor incomes, double and triple up families in single family residences. Their high birth rate combined with their poor understanding of the value of education (and how to instill that value in their children) results in perpetuation and growth of a poorly educated underclass prone to social pathologies.

Immigration reform supporters have lately been touting a statistic about how much money the Federal government will save by "normalizing" the millions of illegal immigrants currently in the US. But what about the COSTS that we will incur once all of these people are legally eligible for social programs? An "open borders" policy in a welfare state is fiscal suicide.

Then there is the fairness issue. Anyone who has immigrated here legally, or has parents who have done so, should be absolutely outraged at the proposal to allow illegal immigrants a "free pass" into the citizenship line. The media's willful conflation of illegal and legal immigration ("We are a nation of immigrants") is utterly infuriating.

Sure, the personal situations of individual illegal immigrants can be sad, but that does not erase the fact that their situation is the result of breaking the law. And the heartstrings-tugging tales of struggle cannot and should not obscure the very real negative consequences of illegal immigration that the media chooses to ignore or simply minimize.


Posted by Chris Gaither, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 24, 2013 at 10:55 am

To Green Card Holder - thank you for your perspective. Yes, you are correct, there are two facets to immigration - documented, versus un-documented immigrants. How to control and "resolve" the un-documented matter, and whether the U.S. should increase the number of working visas to expand the tech work pool expertise (documented immigrants) are the two issues that politicians, and the American citizenry have challenges in deciding, and are at the center of this current debate - contributing to the level of difficulty, decision wise.

During the most recent recession starting in early 2008, and even up to now, the American work-force has experienced one of the highest periods of un-employment, under-employment, and lowest number of employed workers, thereby decreasing potential federal and state tax revenue, and of course personal income and savings. So, some Americans wonder why should the U.S. concentrate on increasing the number of work visas to people from other countries, when Americans can be trained to do the technical work? Of course, the core issue here is, do we have enough trained "existing" American workers who can fulfill the demands? Tech companies are answering, "No", emphatically.

On the un-documented side, why most people understand the courage, and perserverance it takes to leave one's country, and enter another country via jumping fences, or navigating un-safe roads and tunnels, the question of fairness arises - other people enter American by waiting for the proper documentation, and this is the way all people who want to come to America to reside, should enter the country. Some people wait years for approval to enter, and those who skip the hoops create a financial and space resource burden. How can a society allocate needed resources, when it does not have a firm "accounting" of those who need or would benefit from the resources?

Unfortunately, the current debate makes it looks as though America is choosing one ethnic group over another - hispanics who are the majority of un-documented workers versus people from China, Europe, India and Russia who are the majority of documented immigrants. The challenge, how to create reform that addresses and resolves the core issues, and does not appear to be based on ethnicity or race.


Posted by Marie, a resident of Portola Valley
on Jun 26, 2013 at 5:27 pm

As someone who was exposed to TV by an young, illegal immigrant, I strongly oppose giving any amnesty to illegals or their illegal children. Because of my exposure to TB, I now have to go through months of medication--and who will pay for that? I will. Because illegals do not go through health checks, they do indeed pose a health risk to the rest of us.

Incidentally, who do you think paid for that youth's and his family's TB treatment--you did!


Posted by nación de leyes, a resident of Portola Valley
on Jun 27, 2013 at 9:54 am

Marie: who does that kid's father work for? In Alabama he works for Tyson chicken. In the mid-west, it's a meat packing plant. In Texas, it's a construction crew.

Maybe here in CA, he works for a contractor who has crews cleaning the WalMart at night.

Throw the directors of those companies in jail! They broke the law and are the magnet for the illegals, they give them jobs!

Throw the CEO of every company into San Quentin for a night, for every illegal they hire or have subcontracted.

Let them share a cell with Bubba, and the hiring of illegals stops right away.

We are a nation of laws.

Unless you make a mill or two a year, then it's the illegals' fault.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2013 at 11:07 am

Nacion - excellent points. Marie also conveniently forgets to mention thst many undocumented workers pay taxes, so they also paid for their treatment.

I'm curious as to how Marie was exposed to TB. How frightening & concerning! My great grandmother died of TB, but back then, even legals had it.


Posted by scientist, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2013 at 2:06 pm

I have no problem with amnesty for law-abiding, high-achieving kids w/o documentation. However, more H1B visas for foreign-born grad students and post docs will exacerbate an already terrible job market for US-born and -educated scientists, which does concern me.


Posted by nación de leyes, a resident of Portola Valley
on Jun 27, 2013 at 2:26 pm

"more H1B visas for foreign-born grad students and post docs will exacerbate an already terrible job market for US-born and -educated scientists"

But of course, makes more money for Bubba's cellmates. Far better to hire low wage engineers than US educated Americans.

That's who the immigration bill is written for; otherwise, it would not have rec'd the republican votes in the senate.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 29, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Ah, yes - the bias against foreign born post-docs. I was wondering how long it would take someone to bring that up.


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