Victoria Flores-Paniagua misses the mark, but the headline for her column today gets it right:
Top-notch immigrant students deserve better
Why yes, yes they do.
I knew a girl back in high school whose parents immigrated to the US from Mexico. Legally. Their story is not that unusual. Back in Mexico, they were professionals. A doctor & a lawyer (or maybe two lawyers; this was well over a decade ago, so I don't recall).
They came to San Antonio with their children, four or five kids, I think, and lived in a one-bedroom garage apartment. The parents worked in menial jobs. Their kids worked their asses off in school.
The girl I knew...I don't remember her name--I'm horrible with names--so I'll call her Vanessa, because I'm pretty sure her name did start with a V...She was in my German class my Junior year, and was a year ahead of me. Mind you, this was an advanced class, and she wasn't in the multilingual program like I was. She was just that good, and on her third language.
Vanessa was a very nice girl. Amazingly sweet-natured. Near the top of her class. Smart as a whip, in other words. Dedicated. Had big plans. Had scholarships. Was accepted at St. Mary's University.
Disaster struck shortly after she graduated high school. Her parents had put in for green cards for their kids (they were already legal permanent residents, as I recall). For whatever reason, Vanessa's green card, and her brother's, were both denied.
Her scholarships fell through. Her university attendance was put in jeopardy, because she was now an international student, which of course increased tuition and fees exponentially.
I think of Vanessa every time I read stories like those of the people Ms Flores-Paniagua mentions in her column. Because Vanessa came here legally, and worked her ass off, and defrauded exactly no one and she wound up struggling. Meanwhile Benita Veliz and Eric Balderas broke the law to come to the United States, broke the law to attend school here ('cause, hey, you need a Social Security number to enroll in school), broke the law when applying for college and financial aid and scholarships...
And I'm supposed to feel sorry for them? Ah, NO. I feel sorry for legal immigrants who do what they can to succeed. I don't feel any more sorry for Veliz & Balderas than I do for any Joe Garcia who knocks over a corner store. (And if you stop to think about it, the robber probably steals less money than these two did.)