Young Strivers in Two Worlds

From the New York Times

What is it like to get up at 3 every morning to leave the country to go to school? To walk for miles and wait in long lines at an international crossing, to hustle along by trolley and bus, worrying all the while about missing the 8 a.m. bell? This is the bleary-eyed world of young Mexican-Americans who live in Tijuana and go to school in Chula Vista, Calif., as described by Patricia Leigh Brown in The Times. These striving students, or “transfronterizos,” are not immigrants but American citizens, lawfully crossing the border to get an education.

They are toiling toward the honorable goal of a good education, but some stay below the radar because they are not residents of the school districts they attend. Their parents have been deported or have willingly left the United States; some can’t or won’t pay the out-of-district tuition. It’s possible to say their children are contributing to America’s greatness or stealing from it. Or both.

Here is a mirror of America’s battle over immigration — a battle with itself and its future. Courtesy of some Republican politicians, we are fighting it in the worst way possible, with spasms of anti-immigrant loathing and rigid enforcement schemes.

The problem with working so hard to keep people
out, each of whom comes with different circumstances,
is that you fail to tap the restless doggedness of those who want in. When our laws needlessly divide families and
discourage beneficial migration, they drain the ambition and energy that are America’s constantly renewable resource.

At a time when border crossings are at historic lows, when illegal immigration is greatly diminished, the story of the transfronterizos is a reminder of the vast potential of smart young people. While our laws and policies focus heavily on punishing first-generation illegal immigrants, we forget that it is in our vital interest to make sure their American children and grandchildren succeed.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/23/opinion/striving-in-two-worlds.html?_r=1&ref=hispanicamericans




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