Home » Political Commentary » “Guess What? I’m a Great Nation,” Says the United States!

“Guess What? I’m a Great Nation,” Says the United States!

It’s Me!



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I am certain that when President Obama’s father, Barack Obama, Sr. came to America from Kenya, entering this small land with big dreams, he never imagined he would become a successful economist and he certainly never dreamed that his son would be the leader of this great nation. Election 2012 will be inundated with a lot of platform rhetoric. From education to healthcare it will all be there, but where will the candidates stand on immigration?

For every immigrant that comes into this country there is a story that he or she shares, one that will define his or her journey while in this strange, yet familiar place. What makes America so familiar is that the history of struggle is interwoven into America’s fabric; every immigrant struggles when he or she reaches these shores linguistically, culturally, geographically, and historically.   What also makes America familiar is the idea that one would abandon his or her home nation for the sake of assuming an American identity.  Americans know a lot about risking it all for the sake of getting something better (The American Revolution).  It isn’t that we’re addicted to the gamble; we just understand that you have to play to win.  When immigrants enter the great gamble, that’s all they want as well.

As a New York City Teacher, I see all too well how immigrants will risk the deportation of their entire families just have a piece of the American Dream. Don’t get me wrong, I do realize that once the pieces are gone, there is nothing left to spare, but dreams are endless and recurring. Nothing saddens me more than to know that I have a student that has excelled in class, but will be unable to attend college (without paying upfront) because he or she does not qualify for financial aid due to his or her status.   In this instance, the parents are at fault and not the child, but the effects of the parents’ actions cripple the children as well.  The 2012 candidate pool has to get this conversation straight.

We cannot afford to have a conversation around immigration in the way that Arizona, Utah, Alabama, Indiana, Georgia and South Carolina wish to pursue it.  It should not be a crime to be a Good Samaritan as Alabama wishes, nor should immigrant or perceived immigrants in Arizona be forced to carry documentation as proof that they can be here.  Immigrants, have to enter America under the right auspices. Our doors are not closed to those seeking opportunities, but our understanding is short for rogue entrances.  How do we make it right so that immigrants can achieve their dreams and so that America can continue to grow?  Start with the children.

Our government has made education apart of what it means to be an American since its colonial days. There isn’t a child in the world that we will deny an education to. Since this is the case, why not utilize our schools as grounds in which we can raise our levels of expectation, groom the best American citizens, and look forward to the best outcomes of innovation and productivity from people who understand the concept of contributing to a nation to make it better. In NYC (and I assume it has to be the same for other metropolitan areas), as it stands now, once an undocumented student graduates high school, he or she is simply a diploma-holder.  Very few of these undocumented students go on to college because they cannot afford the tuition. Those that do, pay greatly.  The vast majority are left to working “off the books” as some wealthier person’s home attendant or babysitter.  How will the immigrant and America benefit if this system remains the same? They won’t.

As a condition of graduation, students should be naturalized as well (provided that come to school everyday, maintain above average grades, and show a willingness to be a productive citizen through various activities and volunteer programs) and, upon graduation they will at least be able to work, legally, and / or attend college.  There is no purpose in having a large number of people who cannot contribute to paying taxes, yet are able to receive all of the government services that are paid through tax dollars. Eventually, the system does become overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s time for America to be smart on all levels.  We are a great nation and people want to be here; and, we have to find a way to help immigrants contribute to this greatness.

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  1. Mike says:

    I like this article, it really makes you think.

    • Zakiyyah Ali says:

      Hey RoyalStatus! Thanks for reading and commenting on this post. I’m creating a movement around politics and young people. We have to be involved. Thanks for joining the movement. Tell your friends to tell a friend to tell a friend.

  2. sherrae perez says:

    Thought provoking piece! I too believe that immigration is an issue too important to ignore, and my own family has been taxed by the weight of these issues. From a fiscal standpoint, if tax increases are needed to support our spending, there is revenue in taxing (now) undocumented workers

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hello Mrs Ali. This article speaks the truth. I am living proof of what this article is saying. I will try to make my response short. I am a 23 year old male immigrant living in Brooklyn NY since the year of 2002 and all I wanted to do after high school was go to the U.S. ARMY or to any college that accept me. By the way I was class of 2007 at Samuel J. Tilden HS.

    I did get accepted to a college but I had to drop out in a year time because my mom who is a single parent could not of afford to pay my school fees anymore because she had other bills to take care of. As we all know if you want to get into the military or just find work in general you have to own a green card and SS number in order to work and pay taxes.

    So basically my life is on pause with only a HS diploma and no job until I find a way to obtaining my (papers) so I could be able to work and live a normal life like every American. It really hurts me sometimes when I see born Americans hanging out on the street corner wasting away their life when there are many immigrants wishing they could be in their shoes. When I say wishing to be in their shoes, I mean being a born American and having the ability to be whatever you want to be in this great country.

    Anyway great article. It really makes me happy to see that there are people who care about others like me. Thank you and have a great day.

    • Zakiyyah Ali says:

      I really wish I knew who I was responding to in this email because you didn’t leave an email or a name. Just the same, I appreciate you taking the time out to read this blog post, but I am even more grateful to know that my words have been able to let you know that you are not alone and that I do care and really understand your struggle. I pray that your journey will get even better and that even more attention will be paid to your story and many similar ones like yours.

      Encourage other people to read the blog post, but more importantly to encourage local elected officials to raise the level of awareness on immigration and its affect on young people graduating from our public schools.

      Have a beautiful day.

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