Friday, October 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

My mother, the ‘unaccompanied minor’

By
From page A8 | August 14, 2014 |

By O. Ricardo Pimentel

My mother was an unaccompanied minor.

She came to this country at 14, from a small village in Zacatecas, Mexico, without documents — and without parents.

As the story about Central American children coming here has unfolded — complete with the usual histrionics about them “corrupting our way of life” — I’ve thought of my parents, both of whom passed away a while ago.

Separately, my father also came as a young man without documents, though missing that age cutoff so he could also be called a minor. He came from Guanajuato.

Responses to the columns I’ve written on these unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have revealed a wellspring of compassion and understanding, as if these folks knew my parents.

But among the responses have also been some predictable threads.

Here are a couple, paraphrased.

You want gangbangers? Put them in your neighborhood.

Or …

OK, Pimentel, how many of these “illegals” are you going to take into your home?

As to the first, the gangster smear has been leveled at Mexicans for a while. It’s bogus but particularly so for Central American children fleeing dangerous gangs in their own countries. They won’t be joining gangs here.

As for the second, “illegals” took me in. They were my parents. They took pretty good care of me and two brothers.

This concept of fleeing violence shouldn’t be a foreign concept in Texas. Many a Texan is here today because an ancestor was fleeing the Mexican Revolution or social upheaval in Mexico before that. Heck, this fleeing persecution, violence and hunger thing has been a storied mainstay of U.S. immigration.

My parents weren’t fleeing violence but were intimately familiar with poverty. My mother’s father, once a migrant worker here, was a small farmer in Zacatecas. My father was fatherless at an early age.

The U.S. solution to the Central American influx seems to be, “Let’s treat them like Mexicans.” Which is another way of saying, as Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., noted on the floor of the U.S. House recently: “Deport, deport, deport.”

Instead, how about we treat these immigrants as if they’re Irish or Germans.

Go to ushistory.org and you’ll come across this passage: “In the middle half of the nineteenth century, more than one-half of the population of Ireland emigrated to the United States. So did an equal number of Germans. Most of them came because of civil unrest, severe unemployment or almost inconceivable hardships at home.”

This is history, as are the aspersions cast against the Irish and Germans by the descendants of the immigrants who came before them. You know, sort of like those being hurled at people like my parents throughout their lives and these Central American children now.

Right, this isn’t the 19th century. It’s just that I didn’t know empathy was ever out of fashion.

So, how about we treat these Central American children as we did Cuban children — and their parents — in the 1960s.

There was The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 that expedited legal residency for and resettled these immigrants because they were pretty much viewed as political refugees.

After Fidel Castro emptied out his prisons and sent the inmates here, we decided to get tougher. Our version of tough? Get here and you’re in.

Are we brutal or what?

My mother, the unaccompanied minor who immediately went to work in hot laundries, went on, with her husband, a tailor, to get legal residency. And if she or my father were ever gangbangers, they hid it very well. Not a tat between them.

Treat immigrants as if they were Mexican, German, Irish or Cuban?

How about we just treat them like people, according to their circumstances and our capacity to feel.

— San Antonio Express-News

Comments

comments

New York Times News Service

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    A-Z: Downtown Davis is the place to celebrate

    By Kimberly Yarris | From Page: C1

     
    Courageous Thompson tapped for cycling shrine

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    UC researchers: How low-water can our landscapes go?

    By Katie F. Hetrick | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Testimony begins in Winters murder trial

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Hong Kong protesters to vote on staying in streets

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Cloud business lifts Microsoft’s quarterly results

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Yoga and chanting workshop planned

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Downtown menu: coffee, boba tea, dessert

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: C3

     
    Can you give them a home?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Scientists work to save endangered desert mammal

    By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Host families needed for students and teachers from Mexico

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Halloween Dance set Friday for teens

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Day of the Dead folk art class set

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Flea Market planned Sunday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Enjoy A Taste of Capay at historic ranch

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Red-hot tunes set at Blues Harvest

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Learn how to fill a cornucopia with flowers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Video highlights Props. 1 and 2

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    ‘Homeopathy at Home’ program planned

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Celebrate origami at Davis library

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Garden sale and open house features water-wise demos

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C4

    Meet Poppenga at dog park Sunday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Bay Bridge art project needs $4 million to keep shining

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Weir honored, a year early

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    For a good cause

    By Fred Gladdis | From Page: A6

    Americans, internationals make connections

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    Explorit: Poison-proof your home with free lecture

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A6

    Sutter auxiliary seeks volunteers

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    School board hopefuls discuss homework policy

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A7

    Walkers welcome to join Sierra Club outings

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Project Linus seeks donations

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    .

    Forum

    The magic is long gone

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    What’s next with Ebola?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    More theories on the abstention

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Rights beget responsibilities

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Water returns to its source

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    A solution to the drought

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Experience nature’s treasures

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Subs have other concerns

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

    .

    Sports

    DHS footballers take on Pleasant Grove

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Bye No. 2 comes at perfect time for nicked-up UCD

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Shhh. Are Aggie women BWC’s best-kept secret?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Bump, set, playoffs: Blue Devil girls clinch spot in postseason

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggies expect a bonny meeting in Sacramento

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    UCD roundup: Preseason awards roll in for Aggie hoopster Hawkins

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Sharks suffer from road woes

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    DMTC plans ‘My Fair Lady’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

     
    Czech Philharmonic Orchestra to perform

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    Calling all artists for upcoming show

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    ‘St. Vincent:’ Quite a character

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    Rumpledethumps to play at Village Homes Performers’ Circle

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

     
    Car Care: Five things to ask yourself when shopping for a new vehicle

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B7

    .

    Obituaries

    Lewis Melvin Dudman

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Ann Foley Scheuring

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, October 24, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B3