The recent immigration bill battle leaves much to be desired with both the legislators in charge of making the law and the actual protesters themselves. Politicians are an easy scapegoat in most matters, and, currently, they have plenty of angry constituents forcing them to come up with an immigration bill.
But my qualm really isn’t with the politicians. It’s with some of the protesters themselves. In the words of my fellow Cuban Ricky Ricardo, “Plees, let me esplain.”
As an immigrant to this country, it has been very confusing to watch the protests in California on the news, and my confusion lies in some of the protesters’ choice of flags to carry during these protests.
So, I have to ask: Which country’s immigration policies are they protesting? The reason I ask this is based on the presence of Mexican flags carried during these protest rallies. After all, if the country you want to stay in is the United States and the laws you want to influence are of said country, why even display the Mexican flag?
Don’t get me wrong. I can understand the reluctance to let go of one’s cultural or ethnic background. Hell, I still love all things Cuban. But I’m in America now, this is my home and the American flag is the one I fly. But there they are, as if Mexico is going to influence matters on terms of immigration[[this sentence is awkward to me…maybe I just read it too quickly or something. But I can’t come up with anything better than that]]. Then again, isn’t the immigration issue in California influenced by Mexico? After all, if the Mexican economy was in good shape, and the government wasn’t so corrupt, would people want to leave Mexico for a life in el Norte?
We’re a nation of immigrants and I’m no exception. Cubans, like my mother and I, came to this country with only the clothes on our backs to escape the tyranny of communism. Liberty, rights and freedom were the goal, and economics was a distant second.
My mother worked her ass off to make ends meet, eventually buying a house with all her savings – something she couldn’t do in Cuba. One of my mother’s proudest days was when she took the Oath of Allegiance. This was proudly her home to the end and continues to be mine.
Immigration from Mexico is mainly for economic reasons and there’s nothing wrong with this. After all, bettering oneself is part of this thing called the American Dream. Making the dream real takes hard work and many immigrants, legal or not, have done their share of hard work for a day’s pay and respect they deserve. The dream doesn’t come cheap, but at least you can reach for it. Many do.
There’s no denying that there are those hellbent on destroying everything America stands for. We saw proof of this on Sept. 11, 2001 and before that on Feb. 26, 1993 when Islamist terrorists tried to use a truck bomb on the World Trade Center. But sometimes the threat we believe in can come from within and we clearly saw this on April 19, 1995 in Oklahoma City.
But back to the flag issue. The great Statue of Liberty has the following passage engraved on a plaque: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
It is this welcoming phrase that makes one wonder why anyone would even want to wave the flag of the country they left to affect the politics of the country they currently live in? It makes no sense and causes more harm to all immigrants than good.
The only time I’ll wave the Cuban flag on American soil is when that murdering dictator Fidel Castro drops dead. I’ll shout “Viva Cuba libre!” and wave the Cuban flag. But I’ll also wave the American flag as well because this has been my home after mine was overrun with filthy communists. America took us in and for this I’ll be eternally grateful.
So, please, if you’re going to protest American immigration policy in America, wave the American flag, because, after all, the battle is to gain the right to stay and work in the U.S. legally. And to think, you can even petition this government through protest – something not realistic in other countries.
If it is the American Dream and a life of freedom and liberty you seek, it will come under the American flag, and it can’t be put any simpler than that. Legally you have the right to wave whatever flag you want, logically the American flag is the one to wave. The future of hard working immigrants relies on that logic.
Henry Sarria is a longtime Isla Vista resident.