DREAM Act Arizona!
Joe A. died on December 3, 2007. He was 18 years old, member of the chorus, the color guard and Junior ROTC. He would have graduated from North High School in the spring of 2008.
Joe was a good student. He learned English, passed the AIMS test. Even those who didn't know him knew who he was. He was easy to pick out at school functions. He was the one carrying the American flag.
He and his family came to Phoenix on visas 4½ years ago. His parents wanted better life for their four children. Mr. A. works as a bricklayer.
On Oct. 19, Joe was horsing around with friends at church when he bumped his head. It quickly became clear that something wrong, and he was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, where he underwent surgery the next day to stop the bleeding in his brain.
On Oct. 21 his parents learned that her son had leukemia, but doctors assured her that he would be OK. His chance of recovery was put at 85 percent.
Five days later, Joe was packed into an ambulance and sent to a clinic in Mexico alone.
While Medicaid picked up the cost of his emergency care, (he had a cost containment insurance) there was no one to pay the rest of the tab. He wasn't well enough to be sent home, and St. Joseph Hospital authorities said, there were no skilled nursing or rehab facilities in Arizona that would have taken him, no one who would have offered to treat an undocumented immigrant with no money.
"They said they knew that we couldn't pay the bill, so they couldn't continue with the treatment anymore," his mother said, through a translator. "I asked for a payment negotiation, but they said that no, we couldn't make it with the income we have. I didn't want to make any decision by myself, but they told me the ambulance was ready."
Over his mother's objections, Joe was taken first to a clinic in Agua Prieta, Mexico, that lacked the blood products young Joe needed for survival. The doctors at the Agua Prieta clinic later transferred him to a hospital in Hermosillo. His mother followed the next day while his father stayed behind with their other children.
Joe’s mother couldn't supply the hospital in Hermosillo with blood for a needed transfusion. In Mexican hospitals you need to “ provide” donated blood by family and friends to be able to receive blood products.
Since Mrs. A. knew nobody at Hermosillo, she ended up begging blood, approaching strangers on the streets of Hermosillo.
His death has shocked this central Phoenix community, where teachers, students and parents are asking why one of our leading hospitals - and a Catholic one- dumped a boy whose only goal was to join the Army.
"This is an absolute community disgrace," said Sue Stodola, a North parent. "And my question is, is this what it's come to?"
Joe’s Mom said she isn't angry with St. Joe's, that her son was treated well while he was there. Her faith in God, she said, will see her family through this. She hopes that hospitals will agree to set up payment plans.
"I want that the death of my son wouldn't be in vain," she said. "I know there are more people that are experiencing the same things. I only want for more people to at least have the opportunity to negotiate with the hospital, because I know that he was not the first and he's not going to be the last."
How is that a Hospital "serving and advocating for our sisters and brothers who are poor and disenfranchised" as a the mission statements says, packed and shipped him off to Mexico - and, as it turns out, to his death ?
Joe A. was also taken away from his community, his friends, teachers and schoolmates who cared about him and to collected money to help his family.
My name is Carlos, I live in Arizona, and I am smeared with an inherited title: "Illegal Alien".
All my life I have excelled in school. I graduated Valedictorian of my high school in May 2010. Throughout my high school career, I exceeded all of my AIM's tests on the first try, maintained straight As', took rigorous honors classes, and was captain for my varsity basketball and baseball programs at my schools. Education and community service are my priorities. I have a perfectly clean record, and I was raised with Christian principles and morals. I enjoy providing community service. I help younger kids play bluegrass music in a neighborhood band at the home of Anni Beach. I have done so for 7 years. I also play several instruments and perform in festivals and community events on a regular basis.
After I graduated from high school, the effects of my immigration status started bearing down on me more and more. Currently, I am unable to attain a driver's license, state identification, a job, and most importantly, my opportunities for a higher education have diminished substantially. My father is the only source of income for my family. We are a low-income family and the savings my parents have reserved for my college education are minute compared to all of the extensive college expenses. Federal aid and scholarships are the only reasonable way for me to be able to pursue a college education. However, I am unable to qualify for scholarships or government aid or even entry to college due to my legal status. Most of my friends are attending Arizona State University while I am stuck at home in a state of limbo. I am literally a prisoner and I am suffering.
I was born in Zacatecas, Mexico. My parents introduced me to the United States when I was only a few months old. I have lived in this country for over 18 years now. I AM American. I don't even know what Mexico looks like. I have never visited my "homeland" and my only relation to Mexico is being born there and a few distant relatives whom I have never met.
I need the freedom to become a contributing member to society. Not a single person in my immediate or extended family has gone to college and it would be the highest honor to be the first. I would like nothing more than to major in either health or law. The health field is a very broad field and due to health care reform and the aging baby boomer demographics, the demand in healthcare fields continues to grow. Or perhaps I can undertake a major in law where I can assist low-income Latino families with situations similar to mine. I know that I will excel in either field.
All is all the DREAM ACT may be my only hope. I have a lot to offer to my country and I ask only for an equal opportunity. An opportunity to test my dreams and fulfill my American story. My legal status was not in my hands; it was not a choice. This government, created FOR the people, must listen to a voice 65,000 strong. The voice of 65,000 hardworking high school students graduating every year. A voice which will ultimately contribute to our country's economy and fulfill one of the important tenets of our democracy; "and justice for all".
Being an undocumented student is like being a bird with its wings tied up. I know that I can do so many things but I am prevented from demonstrating the ways that I can fly. I grew up in this land, learned in your schools, and played with my friends, the ones that you call Americans. I recite the Pledge of Alliance every school day and I have been part of all American Holidays and Celebrations throughout the years.
Am I not an American? How do you define being an American? I believe that the term “American” means more than just being born in the United States. Don’t you think so? You can take away my driving license, my jobs, my scholarships, my job internships, my freedom of walking without fear, and even call me an “alien”, but I will still be an American.
I don’t need a degree or a doctorate to know that what is being committed to undocumented students is wrong. I have lived in the United States since I remember. We did not choose to come to this country; how can we be the ones who have committed a “crime“? A baby cannot be punished for crossing the border! So remind me again, why are we being punished for a fault we did not commit?
You say that we will take your jobs, however you have not considered all the jobs that we will give you and the taxes my parents and I pay every single day. All we want is a better future. Even though you have tripled my tuition I’m still attending your universities.
How much do you think I value my education? I fight for it every single day with all my might. We the undocumented students will be the lawyers, engineers, journalists, nurses, and professionals of tomorrow. I will be a pediatrician serving your kids. I have done exceptionally good in school and will continue to be a valuable member of society. Don’t import professional from other countries, use what you already have here.
One of my biggest dreams has been to travel; ironically I can barely walk around the city because of the fear of being detained, sent to a jail, mistreated and deported.
I guess history does repeat itself; we, undocumented students are now the ones asking for freedom today as some others did years ago.
I don’t have to be a psychic to know that things will change one day, not because we won’t stop trying, but because is the right thing to do. As for now, grant me freedom, allow me to be seen as the member of society that I am. Untie my wings, I will show you how high I can fly.
My name is O.
Unfortunately I am an “illegal” immigrant in the U.S.
I have lived in Phoenix, AZ since I was 1 year and 11 months old. My parents brought me to Arizona to run away from the threats of my family being killed by a violent and dangerous family member.
A relative became violent to my family when my uncle murdered his wife and then took his own life. He blamed the tragedy on my parents.
I wish this had not happened and was not the story of my life, but unfortunately that is what occurred.
Two years ago when the first march for the immigrants' rights happened I realized that I was what some people called “illegal“. I had not thought of me in that way since I had always had a normal life. I went to school, attend church and have a “normal” American life. Going to church has helped me become a better person and continue with my education in high school.
It was a complete shock for me to realize that there are people out there who considered me a criminal. Right now I graduated from high school and have no idea what to do. I can’t have a job, I can’t go to school because Proposition 300.
It has become very difficult to pay for out of state tuition.
I do not understand why no one is not doing anything about this. I really want to help politicians to understand a person with a situation like mine, but I don’t know how.
My hope is to live here in the U.S. because I do not know anyplace else. Hopefully someone receives this message and considers me. Thanks for reading.
In mid-August, Virginia , an '07 honors graduate from North High School was deported following a routine traffic stop. While in custody Virginia was subjected to inhumane treatment without any legal representation.
After her arrest and subsequent four-day stay in a samall holding cell with 35 women with no blankets, no pillows and beds, Virginia signed a voluntary deportation order and was taken, by bus to Nogales , where she was left without any concern for her well being.
Virginia had been awarded numerous scholarships to attend ASU. She wanted to be a nurse and looked forward to making a meaningful contribution to our community.
From Mexico , she now describes her situation as follows:
"I had my family. I worked really, really hard to get my scholarships. I was proud of myself. I was happy. I had everything, school, and then I was working. I was with my family so when they told me I was going to be deported, I felt like I was losing everything... for a tiny error, for a tiny mistake, I was losing everything.
I was here for nine years and I worked really hard to get to this point and just for a tiny, tiny little mistake, I lost everything, my school, my scholarships, my job, and I was feeling really bad....
I couldn't think about coming to Mexico because I was thinking that the thing that most hurt me was, first of all, my family. To be separated from them, because we are a close family. We are always together.... But the other thing that really, really hurt me was my school because I was thinking that I came here when I was nine years and then I learned English and I put my best effort to get good grades and graduate from high school with a 4.2 GPA and then I got scholarships and I participated in sports and community activities.... For my dreams to come true. And then just in a second, they flew away....
It really hurt me, because I couldn't believe it. I was thinking, my school, no...."
When Nayeli Guzman strode into Laurita Moore’s faculty office several years ago, Moore felt an immediate connection to the spunky 15-year-old.
The reason soon became clear: their lives have followed a similar, often tortuous, path. Peering into Nayeli’s deep, intelligent brown eyes, the South Mountain Community College teacher detected uncanny strength and determination -- and a little vulnerability. Moore’s thoughts flashed back to her own youth. She too, had come to America from Mexico needing a helping hand and direction for her abilities.
Nayeli merely hoped to meet someone who could help her obtain financial aid for the college classes she wanted to take.
The teen couldn’t have imagined the lengths to which the South Mountain Community College teacher -- soon, all at the college -- would go.
"Students come to me for help all the time but when Nayeli appeared in my office it was different," recalls Moore, faculty in computer information and Spanish.
The bright, plucky teen -- who had never lived in an English-speaking home -- proceeded to test into college level math and English courses at SMCC, and began applying for scholarships.
All of which led nowhere because the young woman lacked a social security card and, more importantly, legal resident status. It turned out that, when age five, Nayeli had been slipped illegally into the United States from Mexico by relatives. Once in the U.S., she moved from relative to relative. Nayeli’s biological mother had remained in Mexico due to a long illness and passed away when her daughter was only nine.
In just 10 years, she attended six different schools. Finally weary of the moves -- and needing a challenge -- Nayeli set her sights on college.
"I took her to an immigration attorney to find out what could be done," recalls Moore. It wasn’t long before Laurita adopted Nayeli and the two became family.
Having helped raise two stepsons, Moore was keenly aware of the turbulence that sometimes accompanies life with teenagers. However, she gratefully embraced a judge’s decision to award her custody of this unusual girl. “I have never been sorry. She is, truly, my daughter,” notes Moore.
THRIVING IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY
"Nayeli is a model of children who thrive in the face of adversity," says this mother-teacher who saw herself reflected in the teen’s determination to succeed.
Moore was only 17 herself when she left Mexico City -- penniless -- to attend the University of Arizona.
"Because I had not established residency in Arizona I couldn’t get financial aid and I wasn’t eligible for scholarships. I was hungry, lonely and lost that first year," she recalls.
But things changed dramatically the following summer. While working at a Mexico City hotel, Moore took reservations from two Tucson women. One was the executive secretary to the president of the University of Arizona, the other the executive secretary to the dean of finance.
"I never had a problem with scholarships after that," she laughs.
NAYELI BECOMES A LEADER
Within months of moving into her new mother’s home, Nayeli’s academic and leadership abilities began to flourish. She became an honor student at SMCC, student body vice-president, and she initiated a campus relief project to help Hondurans affected by Hurricane Mitch. The teen donated more than 80 hours to community service projects. Her intelligence, beauty, talent and exceptional bilingual skills enabled Nayeli to produce helpful public service announcements, in Spanish, for radio and television. The tenacious youth has reaped the benefits of the many hours in study, she says. “But I couldn’t have succeeded without the encouragement and support of so many people at the college. Every day I am grateful for their interest and their kindness – and for the education.”
Barely 17, she graduated from SMCC last year with honors and enrolled at Grand Canyon University. She is entering her senior year, studying education. Upon graduation, Nayeli plans to pursue her interests in international business at Thunderbird Graduate School for International Management.
‘THE MOTHER FIGURE I NEVER HAD’
"I had the privilege of watching her change into a wise, beautiful, dynamic young woman with an incredible personality," says Moore, who is quick to deflect any credit.
"It takes a village to raise a child and, in this case, there are many wonderful teachers who contributed significantly to Nayeli’s academic and personal development. I did the formal adoption but we all raised her. Almost everyone at SMCC had a part," she says.
Still it is Moore the teenager wanted to emulate.
"She became the mother figure I never had," says Nayeli. "She corrected my negative actions and gave me a better and new ethical foundation. I have been tremendously influenced by her success and motivation. I look up to her as a role model, mother, friend, and teacher, who out of nowhere opened her home to me."