No Way Out

Manuel is a responsible person, a hard worker, and a good high school student. Although he attends a Title 1 school where there is a large population of low-income students, he has managed to stay out of trouble, such as drugs and gangs. In fact, he has even made proactive efforts on campus to talk to other teens about the importance of education and non-violence. He gets along with others well—a social skill that few have at his racially diverse school. Anyone who knows him, especially his teachers, can easily visualize him succeeding in college.

But Manuel has one problem. He is an undocumented person living in the U.S. This means that although he can attend college and graduate, he is not eligible for work in the U.S. No employer can hire him as an undocumented resident.

His story is much like many of his peers: he came across the border as a young teen to go to school and make money for his family he left behind in Mexico. He worked hard to integrate into the American culture and learned English perfectly in a few years. In my classes he has always been an eager student, willing to help in any way he can, and always smiled. It must have been a very difficult life for him in Mexico if his family was willing to risk the safety of this young man by sending him to survive in America. His only family here is his older brother, who is too old to go to high school. Manuel believed that by hard work and appreciation, he could get to college and one day become a working professional in the U.S.

Unfortunately, all he’s really able to do is work at the local Hispanic food store, making minimum wage at best. There are only two options for him to work here as a professional: get a temporary work visa (must be sponsored by employer) or gain citizenship, a long complicated process that Mexico lends little help to. His best bet is to become a citizen, but of course we know by the number of illegal immigrants living among us, it isn’t easy.

Will our government ever decide that people are more important than money? Won’t there be some greater effort made on compassion for the lowest among us?
  1. Some helpful resources for immigrants:For Hispanic civil rights and advocacy: Resource network for undocumented students: manual for undocumented students: becoming a citizen:

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