Saturday, November 19, 2011

You're an Americano. I'm a Mexicano

There is a new program in California called the Dream Act that would provide illegal immigrants with scholarships and other aid to attend California universities. There are some good things about it, but there is something that bothers me.

I had the wonderful opportunity to teach Latinos for much of my life as a university administrator and professor. Some of these people were so intelligent and driven that I'm waiting for the days when I will take pride in their impressive achievements.

I frequently had conversations with American citizens that went like this; "Dr. Turner, you're an Americano."

"You were born here and are an American citizen, so there's no difference between you and me, "I said.

"No, I'm a Mexicano. You're an Americano."

Because I respected the minds of these excellent students, I would end the conversation, because there was no way I would be able to change their attitudes.

However, when you get citizenship, which could eventually happen to American university graduates, you become an American. There is no way you get to deny that. And while these days, citizenship seems to be more about rights than responsibilities, Americans of Latino descent have been some of our best soldiers in the two Bush Wars. Of course, I got my American citizenship through the Mayflower, but these Latinos are my equals. There is no difference between the two of us.

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