Editor’s Note: The author submitted this op-ed to us via email. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Latino Rebels’ editorial board.
Growing up in the United States, I have witnessed and experienced the hardships of many immigrant families. I was born in Indio, California as the son of Mexican immigrants. My parents came to the United States undocumented but are now U.S. citizens. The process to obtain U.S. citizenship is hard and lengthy. This process makes it unnecessarily difficult for many families wanting to better their lives to obtain U.S.citizenship. Many have asked, “Why didn’t your family go through the regular process and get in line?” My response has always been, “There is no line. When you are barely getting by in a country (Mexico) that is constantly wanting to keep their citizens oppressed and profit from cheap labor you are desperate and seek opportunity. Wouldn’t you do the same?” Growing up, I have seen the United States as my home and a country in which one can accomplish goals and dreams. However, things have changed.
In 2006, H.R. 4437 anti-immigrant legislation was introduced into the House of Representatives by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner of the 5th District in Wisconsin This bill would have considered people who knew undocumented immigrants or were cooperating with them in any form of assistance as guilty of participating in criminal activity. At that time, I attended the protests and I continue to attend them in Wisconsin. I remember shouting chants, “El pueblo unido jamas será vencido.” In English, “The people united will never be defeated.” Fortunately, the bill did not pass in the Senate. However, since then, there has been a constant threat harboring fear amongst the immigrant communities. Witnessing this problem unfold made me realize that everyday activities such as driving a car to work, school or to run errands became a form of fear and worry. So many people consider a person not able to fit in solely for a status of documentation that I am privileged to have.
Two years later, Senator Barack Obama was elected President of the United States and even though I could not vote as a minor, I was inspired. I felt that with his election I would see change within the immigrant community soon. This has not been the case. While President Barack Obama has issued executive orders that have benefited undocumented immigrants, they have come long overdue and too late for many families. Since 2009, the Obama administration has deported more immigrants than any other President, with a record 2.5 million deportations and counting. For many, it will surely be remembered as if nothing has changed.
I started seeing nominations for President from both Republicans and Democrats, and neither attracted my attention because many candidates easily follow the advice of wealthy donors. As time passed, I watched by keeping up with current events. I noticed one candidate who stood out from the rest.
That candidate was Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Senator Sanders has made it clear that this is not about him but about the people. He said that this is a fight against the outdated policies in the immigration system that have created unnecessary barriers that elongate the process to become a U.S. citizen.
Senator Sanders has been consistent throughout his career in politics that immigrants contribute to the backbone of the United States, even when his opponent tries to twist his record with lies.
Senator Sanders knows an investment should not be made in keeping immigrants who do no harm to this country incarcerated. An investment in the promising future that a lot of these immigrants have for this country should be made.
Senator Sanders recognizes that the federal, state and municipal governments should not contribute in contracts with for-profit private prisons.
Senator Bernie Sanders acknowledges that an investment instead should be made in immigrant communities to integrate and assimilate. This will lead to everlasting advantages made in this country by new members of American society in the educational and labor force system.
Considering that the number of Latino voters are increasing with election cycle, they will surely be the deciding factor in 2016. A candidate who wants to win the presidential election must do well with Latinos. In addition, the nation also favors immigration policies that will welcome immigrants into society. People are tired of empty and broken promises that have led nowhere with many politicians. The immigrant community wants to see action with a pathway to citizenship. They do not want walls.
In this election cycle, I ask that Latinos choose a candidate who has been a consistent voice for the community: Senator Bernie Sanders. This is a huge opportunity to ensure that someone who is not bought and paid for by the billionaires actually serves the people of this country as President.
Gabriel Coronado is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and the school’s student body president 2014-2015,