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A Laurel Elementary fifth-grader whose family could symbolize the whole immigration debate provided a fresh — and eye-opening — perspective to the President of the United States in just a few hundred words.
Desiree Nguyen was much closer to the point than a pundit’s fist-pounding rage, broad exaggerations and elaborate scapegoating, as she shared her personal experience as it relates to the conundrum of undocumented workers in the United States.
Agitators and opponents argue that illegal immigrants as a whole are evil. They rarely get down to the human level.
But the story Nguyen tells differs radically from those horrors presented by the know-it-all doom and gloom elements, like CNN’s Lou Dobbs.
The tale told in her letter to President Barack Obama — part of a Scholastic Book Club contest — is one of a good adult role model who happens to be an undocumented alien, a well-adjusted child and a melting pot family.
Because of her closeness to her stepfather — whom she refers to simply as her father, as he’s the only male parent she’s ever known — Nguyen wants the Obama administration to come up with an answer to the immigration problem.
“They know the Mexicans are illegal, but they still make them pay their taxes, so is not the government just as wrong?” she asked.
She doesn’t think it’s right that her dad works hard and pays his taxes, but doesn’t enjoy some basic services. There are many Americans, some we’ve come to realize are in the highest levels of government, who don’t pay what they owe to the IRS.
Not being able to get a fishing license to take Nguyen out for a day of recreation on a stream bank inspired her to write the letter.
People in Mexico live hard, she knows after a visit there. She saw people there depending on buckets to take showers, using outhouses and having to hook up car batteries for lights at night.
Nguyen has faith that Obama, who also comes from a multicultural background, can understand, work on and even fix the problem.
What better example of the overheated and overblown arguments could there be than Nguyen and her family?
Politicians, pundits and regular people need to drop their aggressive tendency to demonize all immigrants.
And doesn’t she have a good point? If the situation is as she’s described and the government is complicit in these immigration issues, then shouldn’t the government work to come up with a solution?
Perhaps it is time to revisit the issue, sidelined by the election and the economic crisis.
Maybe this country should forgive those hardworking and law-abiding immigrants — no matter how they entered the U.S. to escape poverty or violence — and provide them a chance to enjoy a full and well-rounded life with their families here.
And that would include a day of fishing with their loved ones.