The smell of coffee in the morning comforts me. That moment just before you are wide awake, when all is a little hazy, mid-dream world, makes me happy. That is the moment when there is no stress, no anxiety, no rush. I listen quietly for the sound of three little beings breathing in the early morning light, knowing that it will be the only peace I will encounter for the rest of the day. I’m not really a morning person but I love the morning. For so many years I wandered aimlessly wondering where I would feel at home, just to find out that the answer would be nowhere and everywhere. I am at peace with that now, and at peace with my feet wanting to go in one direction and my heart in another. Travel takes time nowadays, and time isn’t always easy to find. Travel also requires money, and quite a bit of it too, so it becomes more of a dream rather than a necessity. Next time we travel we will be moving on again. Who knows where. Nowadays I just know that I don’t mind mornings so much.
I don’t have fears about starting over again, because I have done it so many times. My fears are more primal, run a lot deeper than that. If you told us to leave tomorrow we would, our ties to one another, not so much to this country. I promise to teach my children about where they were born, the truth, dark times and bright lights, about the genuine and the fake, and about how age-old prejudices, fear, and hypocrisy can rot a country from the core. I promise to also teach them about where we, their parents, were born, about the traditions that we brought with us, and about the lives that we gave up to be here, especially what their father gave up. And I promise to continue to teach them about all religions and cultures and traditions and why one doesn’t cancel out the other, instead how they can be intertwined and celebrated together. For now they don’t remember donning brightly-hued headscarves in a Sikh temple, or lighting candles on the menorah, but as they grow older these will just be normal events, just like popping into the St Patrick’s to have a quiet thought about those who have left us, or discovering cultures and religions of their own will be. They are US citizens, but also British and Mexican citizens, with France as yet another one of their heritages. My children will be free to choose their own home, if they so please.
When I was struggling to live in the US, fighting with an immigration process that was so backed up and complicated and wrong I promised myself if I ever had kids I would live in the same home for the rest of my life, so they could always join me if they needed to. Time and circumstances has made me realize that this won’t happen, not right now anyway. Maybe we will have a forever place at some point, that beach home I have always dreamed about. In the meantime we will have for-now homes. They have already known three homes in their short lives; a few more won’t faze them. My home is with my family and their home is with us.
But what if their home had always been here? What if all they had ever really known were the same house, the same streets, the same church or temple or mosque? What if the only difference between them and our neighbor’s kids was that they were born in a different country? What if we had brought them here as babies and they had grown up on the same street, gone to the same schools, had the same friends? What if they had always known that they were immigrants but never really felt like it, because they didn’t remember where they were born anyway? What if all they knew of their birth countries were the photos and the stories and the traditions that their parents brought with them? What if their Abuelita was only a voice on the phone? (Actually that last question is true for my kids too). Anyway, what if they were determined to finish college, start businesses, make a difference, but only one thing was stopping them: the wrong birth certificate. Would it be the right thing to do to ask these kids to pick up their belongings and leave without another thought? Only the most ignorant, evil person would answer that question with a yes.
My children were born here, but only because it was where we lived. They will never have to fight for the right to live here like their parents did. They are lucky. Other kids have lived their lives in the shadows, going to school, finding jobs, starting their own families, buying houses and opening businesses, but always knowing that one day it could all fall apart. And then, finally, a few years ago, a bill was introduced that would give them a chance to hop onto the long path towards citizenship. So some of them, 800,000 or so, put their trust in the country they considered home, and signed up. Now that has been taken away from them and they are waiting, in limbo, for a better option, wondering if they will be deported to a country they don’t even remember. Being held in immigration holding zones and detention centers, being threatened with deportation and visa cancellations is nothing new to our family, and if or when it happens again we will deal with it as we have always dealt with everything. But these kids? These Dreamers? They deserve better. They don’t deserve this.
YOU CAN HELP. Call your representatives and ask them to vote NO on a spending bill that doesn’t include a CLEAN DREAM ACT. (Make sure you leave your name and street address if you leave a message). Send them a fax or an email. Jump online and join up in the vigils that are taking place across the country. WE NEED TO GET A CONFIRMATION THAT A CONCRETE CLEAN DREAM ACT WILL BE IN PLACE BY DEC 22nd. This isn’t about illegal or legal or somewhere in between immigration – this is about the lives of youths who have been here most of their lives and call this their home. Trump is trying to use these people as a bargaining chip, and THIS should be illegal.
If these people lose their status then I don’t know if I can call this country my home anymore either. And I will also be teaching my children exactly why we left.