Friday, April 29, 2005
Today I became a Naturalized United States Citizen. There were about three thousand of us being sworn in, but fourteen received an honorary mention. These were members of the armed forces, “the people who defend our freedom.” Their names, military rank, and country of birth were read. I found it satisfying to hear my mother country’s name, Mexico, read over and over again. I was also reminded of a song…
On my way back from visiting my mother country, and as I made my way across the border, an immigration official stopped me and asked to see my immigration documents. As he looked through them I heard him grumble, “with so many immigrants, Americans themselves struggle to find a job.” I retorted the following…
“There’s truth to what you state. Yes, we — Mexican immigrants — have taken jobs away from Americans, but just as we are willing to work a sweat to obtain and maintain our jobs, we’re also the kind to step forward when our names are called for combat. My children were born here. When their country called on them to go to war, they put aside the prejudice they had endured throughout their lives and defended their country to death. They filled the boots and bore the arms that the sons of many white men had refused. Suddenly, nobody questioned their Americanism. It took their blood in combat for them to finally be accepted as Americans. Do you find it unpleasant to see Hernandez written on payrolls? Go ahead and take a look at the list of those missing in action and then get back to me.”
As I screamed all this to him, he could not suppress his tears. Stricken with emotion he said to me, “Go ahead and cross the border this and any other time you please. You’ve certainly earned more than I have.”
Regresaba de mi tierra
Y mientras los revisaba
Le dije muy enojado
Si, muy duro trabajamos,
Aquí nacieron mis hijos
Allí nadie se fijaba
Si en la nómina de pago
Mientras esto le gritaba
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