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.

Immigration is a touchy subject for me because I was once one of the 12 million illegal immigrants.

By Maria Ibarra
Sophomore, Movement Science major

I was born in Michoacan, Mexico, and moved to the United States when I was 7. Our family received legalization after 10 years.

I was involved during the spring immigration protests in Fort Worth because I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to become legalized in the United States. I do not agree that individuals should cross the border illegally, but I also did not agree with the proposed bills against illegal immigrants. H.R. 4437, with its fines and jail time, was a harsh way to punish anyone associated with an illegal immigrant.

I was also protesting the way Mexicans are stereotyped. An immigrant includes everyone who comes to the United States without legal documentation. Mexicans are not the only ones who are here illegally, yet everyone was putting them on the spot, including TCU's Daily Skiff.

Many illegal immigrants do not know how to speak out against everything that surrounds them. I wanted to speak for those who are limited because of their legal status.

Participating in the protest was a learning experience. I knew that I was taking the chance of people seeing me differently, especially after learning that I was once here illegally, but it was worth it. I had to stand for what I believed in.

The House of Representatives should produce a bill that is fair and concise, and the companies that employ illegal immigrants should be punished. True, illegal immigrants are breaking the law, but the companies that hire them and underpay them are not only breaking the law but committing a moral crime.

Everyone should have the opportunity for a better life. My family members and 12 million others came to the United States in search of the "American Dream." I have experienced discrimination and oppression – continue to do so – to get where I am now, a student at a university. I hope that the U.S. government will give the same opportunity to the millions who still dream.

Maria Alejandra Ibarra '09 was born in Michoacan, Mexico, and grew up in Fort Worth. She is the treasurer of Sigma Lambda Alpha Sorority and a member of the Hispanic Heritage Month Committee and the campus affiliate of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

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