By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

New America Media

Jul 20, 2010

In October of 2009, I wrote a column about a brilliant, undocumented high school student whose goal is to attend college this September. I referred to her as Leticia X. When she spoke to my class at the University of Arizona last fall, she had my students in tears, knowing full well that unless the immigration laws change, she will be unable to pursue her dream.

Leticia X has a special love of land (agriculture), and her hope is to become a teacher in Mexican American studies. I saw her this past week at the annual Raza/Ethnic Studies conference in Tucson, but this time, it was she who was in tears. Her father had been picked up that morning by local sheriff’s deputies and turned over to the Border Patrol.

The most dynamic of educators from across the country had come to learn about the battle against HB 2281 — the new anti–ethnic studies law — and SB 1070 law, the racial-profiling law scheduled to take effect July 29. Leticia X’s story provided a lesson they weren’t expecting and demonstrated again that Arizona has become the epicenter of dehumanization.

Because Congress has still not passed the DREAM Act or reformed the nation’s immigration system, Leticia X will not be going to college. But that pales in comparison to the greater tragedy she is now experiencing in this insane asylum known as the apartheid state of Arizona.

Leticia X is not afraid of using her real name; she did so when she spoke to my class. It is I who choose not to identify her publicly. Nor does she consider herself undocumented or an illegal alien. Neither do I. To do so buys into the dehumanization that has become normalized in this society.

Other DREAM students aren’t afraid, either. Recently, a group of them staged a sit-in at Senator John McCain’s Tucson office, subjecting themselves to arrest so that they could take control of their own movement. In Phoenix, another group served Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio with a community indictment, charging him with crimes against humanity.

The notion that children, who had no choice in coming to this country, can be considered illegal stands logic and morality on its head. Leticia X crossed into the United States when she was 3, hardly an age when she could have consciously broken any law. She considers herself a U.S. citizen because she has no memory of any other nation than this one; she is guilty of no crime, and should be treated as such.

Her father is not illegal, either; his only “crime” was to try and make a better life for his family. President Obama recently directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement to concentrate on deporting violent criminals who are a threat to public safety or (a canard) to national security; Leticia X’s father is neither.

In the heat of a campaign in which she is vying to become the elected governor of the state, Arizona’s unelected Gov. Jan Brewer has taken the lead in the misinformation department, alleging that most migrants are carrying drugs, and that drug cartels have been beheading people in the Arizona desert. Both claims are fiction.

Brewer should meet Leticia X, a beautiful human being deserving of treatment as a full human being. If anything, this future teacher merits a full scholarship.

President Obama should also meet Leticia X. He should meet her father and be reminded about his recently declared immigration enforcement priorities. Meeting them, he would know the face of this debate; he would know that it is high time to reform the nation’s immigration laws and to bring millions of people, not into Arpaio’s infamous tents, but into the tent of humanity.

For more info re this unfolding situation: To support Leticia X and her father, checks can be written to: Barrio Sustainability Project— TYLO. They can be sent to: Tierra Y Libertad Organization, 3649 S. 7th Ave. Tucson, AZ 85713.


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