Winter 2008
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TCU Magazine "Academe"
A Tale of Two Countries | Protect us from the criminal element | Save lives. Then talk.
Make citizenship accessible to those who contribute. | Create laws that are fair and concise.
Develop a work-based, binational agreement. | Open the door to those already here. | Get the facts.

I work in the TCU grounds department, and many of my co-workers are permanent residents or have recently become U.S. citizens. My understanding of immigration issues has changed because of my conversations with co-workers, friends and ESL students.

By Tara Pope Perez '00
TCU Physical Plant staff

Six years ago, I would have said, "Do it the legal way." Since then, I have learned that the immigration application process is extremely backlogged. A friend has been waiting years to get the green card that will enable her to work in the United States. It doesn't make sense that while Fort Worth needs bilingual teachers, my bilingual friend with her master's degree from TCU is unable to work.

The slow, difficult (and often random) process of legal immigration leads many folks to enter the United States illegally. People without documents often work hard, sometimes at two or three jobs, under a false Social Security number. They pay into a benefit system or pay taxes without being able to access many of those benefits.

I recently met a young man who is a junior in high school. He's taking Advanced Placement chemistry next year and asked me about going to college. He is undocumented, and he was unsure if he will be able to attend college. Why does a country trying to encourage math/science education with the hopes of furthering scientific discoveries cut off students' education and banish them to low-paying jobs?

If this young man could attend college and get a good-paying job, he would contribute to the economy. My friend could be using her gifts as a teacher to enrich our community. Branding people "legal" and "illegal" is not only detrimental to individuals and families but also to our economic future.

We don't need a wall or more border patrol agents. My recommendations:

• Staff to screen out criminals and terrorists.

• Easy and quick processing of immigration documents.

• Working with other countries to determine why so many people are coming to the United States and then resolving those issues.

• Allowing people here illegally to become permanent residents and get on the path to citizenship.

• Talking with immigrants, documented and undocumented, to learn more about immigration issues.

After making it easier to legally enter and work in the United States, we should invest in education and in strengthening our social structure and economy. Immigrants who are working and paying taxes should have access to our health care and educational systems.

Our communities will be stronger when families can live together and everyone has access to basic health care and education.

Tara Pope Perez '00 is an equipment operator in the TCU grounds department. She also works part-time at The TCU Magazine as Class Notes editor and is a part-time graduate student in the School of Education. She also works with the TCU College Resource Program, serves as historian of the TCU Staff Assembly, and teaches English.

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