Saturday, October 08, 2005

I'm Depressed

This week, I was talking to a kid from Honduras in my after-school program about choosing a high school for next year. I brought up a high school in Queens for new immigrants, which generally do a great job teaching English to immigrant students quickly, since he arrived in the U.S. only a few months ago and speaks no English, and was surprised when he declared that he was not an immigrant because he had residency (i.e. he was here legally).

So this is where the immigration debate in this country is going - all immigrants are seen as law-breakers, and even a newly arrived kid who is not listening to the fanatics in the media and spends all his time (at school and in his neighborhood in New York City of all places) around immigrants from all over the world can pick up on this association.


NYC Educator said...

I understand your POV and absolutely agree. Another point worth considering, though, is that residency is particularly important to someone like that. I'm sure you're aware of the major limitations being illegal places on many of our neighbors.

Maybe the kid was simply looking on the bright side, in his own self-interest.

chris said...

I hadn't considered that, and it is a good point that the kid would be proud of the fact that he had residency, especially when he probably is aware of how difficult it is to be here illegally.

Still, it was the way that he separated himself from the Mexican kids sitting at the same table that shocked me. I know he wasn't trying to hurt their feelings (I'm not even sure they are undocumented, but the kid clearly felt different than them), but it is unfortunate that distinctions like that are being made between kids that are pretty much in the same situation (they are all immigrants, they go to the same school, they speak Spanish, etc).