I am in all technicallity a “documented” american. But my mother’s journey was not. I too am a Filipino American, and she hates me “telling” people— like my husband etc. the truth, in fear that we will be looked down upon, or worse- deported. I can sympathize with Jose’s mother becauseI too was born out of wedlock and if my mother had stayed in the Philippines most likely I would be a call center employee or something to that regard. A little background on my self, I am a senior analyst in a multibillion dollar company and I would consider myself upper middle income. I own a house, cars, I have 2 children in private school and my husband and I make well over 6 figures. We pay our taxes, he is self employed, and he also makes a living flipping homes to help others live that American dream. Anyhow, back to my mother, she had no opportunities in the Philippines, but her uncle was a “marcos crony” back then and was able to call the embassy to get my mother a tourist visa immediately. She wasnt sure what she was going to do when she got here, just that she was going to “figure” it out. My other Aunt at the time knew someone that they could pay for them to marry my mother and claim me as their baby. As a child I remember being “coached” on what to say at the embassy. I didnt look like I was half american and they were worried I would get all these questions when she petitioned me. My mother had already re-married at this time with my step father, who raised me who is as american as you can get. He grew up in Alaska, drove Ford cars and gold panned. He was in all sense, the American father I always wanted. So even though my mother my now Legally a citizen, my petition was not. I came here and have been living here ever since and I did not know this was the truth until I was around 12. This whole time I didnt even know what that exactly meant. I was just shocked that the last name I originally had, was not even mine. I didnt realize that magnitude of what that meant. I lived the next 12 years after (until i was 24) not even considering this an issue. I then tried to get a renewed passport to come to go to the Philippines with my kids in 2011. I had procratinated and did not get it last minuet which caused me to have to get it at the local passport agency in SF. I had a flight the next day with my children to go to the Philippines and met their relatives for the first time. I got there and my passport was not ready and they said they had trouble locating how I entered the country. This was absurd to me, what do they mean they do not know how I got into the county?!?!? i had been paying taxes for years, traveling in and out of the country, and they wanted to see my original papers when I entered the country. My mother was already in the Philippines and she lived in sacramento and these “papers” were hopefully in her safe that I sent my husband to retrieve. I was fortunate to get a really nice, understanding agent that said I could fax him my papers and he will give it to me at 9am in the morning before they opened to the public so I dont miss my 12pm flight. He even gave me his cell so I can contact him when I had faxed my papers. My papers were there and luckily i got it to him in time and I boarded the plane.
Fastfoward to about 2 years ago when I first watched an HBO documentary on undocumented college kids. I didnt even think this was possible to be in the public education system, attending class everyday when you arent even suppose to be in this country. That was the first time I got a better understanding of the failure in this country to account for people that fall in this category. I completely get the argument with how they want productive citizens etc. But what is the gauage for that? do you get kicked out as an American for being unproductive and living off the taxes that undocumented citizens pay? We are not just your doctors, financial advisors etc. we are your workers that allow for your free shipping, fast food drive through takers, and starbucks barisstas. If you’re not an American Indian, you’re an immigrant. Law makers need to reform the system. The reason why there are check boxes for nationality and citizenship is because they are 2 very different thinks. American– is not a nationality, is a status. Do you ever notice that most nationalities have a 1:1 correlation with citizenship choices? Such as Chinese- Chinese, Latino- mexican. American can’t have this option because you cant categorize them to a certain nationality. This country is a melting pot of minds, nationalities and ideas– which is what makes it such a great nation. We need to reform the system to uphold this value, and this truth– that being American is more than a piece of paper, its a value, its a dream that we all have a right to.