By Christie Purifoy
When President Trump announced the end of DACA, another battleground in his ongoing fight against immigrants and immigration, I observed my blonde, blue-eyed, non-Spanish-speaking child with alarm. His biological link to Mexico is well hidden, but will actions such as Trump’s make it easy for him to learn to hate a part of himself?
My husband is the son of an immigrant from Mexico. When I say that my husband’s family moved here legally, I am not describing their virtue. When I say they came legally, I am simply noting that there was a legal path for them to follow, and they followed it. Not every immigrant eager for new opportunity is given such a path.
Two decades ago, I worked for an adult education non-profit. My colleague “Andrea” and I organized programming and tutored adults. I had recently completed college, and Andrea was preparing to begin.
I was with her in the office the day the local community college telephoned. They told her the social security number she had included on her application belonged to someone else. They would, quietly and discreetly, feed her paperwork through the shredder.
“I didn’t know,” she told me through tears.
By the end of that day, I understood that Andrea would no longer dream or plan. She would hide.
Andrea had been brought to this country by an uncle when she was fifteen. She had been handed paperwork and sent to the local high school. The uncle had moved on years before in search of work. She knew no one in the village of her birth. By the end of that day, I understood that Andrea would no longer dream or plan. She would hide. With dark eyes, dark hair, and a Spanish lilt in her English voice, it would never be easy.
I moved away and lost touch with Andrea. I often wonder if she is safe and well. I wonder how she feels as she scrolls through her news feed.
Perhaps it seems obvious that Donald Trump was not talking about my family, or even my friend Andrea, when he said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best.” Yet to me, it still feels personal. I’m guessing it feels personal for Andrea, too. But I have no way now to know. Because Andrea, wherever she is, is most likely still hiding.
Christie Purifoy earned a PhD in English Literature at the University of Chicago before trading the classroom for a farmhouse, a garden, and a blog. She is the author of Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons and Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace.