How Should We Speak of Our Undocumented Immigrant Parents? [Reader Forum]

Colorlines readers remark on the powerful portraits, taken by 20-year-old Carla Chavarria, of Arizona immigrant women and their moms.

By Nia King Apr 01, 2013

Last week, **Julianne Hing** reported on the iDREAM photography project, a series of [portraits of Arizona immigrant women and their moms](, who are still waiting for legal status, started by 20 year old Carla Chavarria. Chavarria started the project three years ago, to protest the failure of the DREAM Act. As we draw closer to immigration reform, the inter-generational struggle to become citizens continues, as well as the challenge of how young people fighting for immigrant rights should frame their parents in their own political struggles. Here’s what you had to say. **Marí Sandoval:** > This is so important. I don’t believe my father made a "mistake" by crossing illegally. I believe he, like any other loving and caring father, knew I’d have very little chance to succeed if we remained in a country with so much government corruption. He took a risk, he gambled with his life, and he set out to leave the only country he knew in order to travel thousands of miles away from the only traditions and country that he had ever called home. I don’t criticize my father, I praise him for making such a hard choice for the benefit of (his then only child…me) and future children. That is an example of a loving, caring father, not of a criminal. **David Matz:** > Terrific idea to further humanize the struggle- ¡al futuro! **Olinkavox:** > Love it!! Keep on doing a great job Carla Cheverria!! **Alanna McEnroe:** > I’m sorry if this comes as hurtful…but i am COMPLETELY against this. People should never come illigally, and then get rewarded for it by getting citizenship. Its outrageous and discraseful! Sorry to be the barer of bad new, but this country has enough problem of that we can not take care of our own citizens, how dare we make the problem worse by taking care of others? I myself am from Chile, but I was brought here legally! > I understand that other countries my not be good but what kind of parent are you to start off your children illigally in another? What kind of morals are you giving them? That being a criminal is okay as long as its to better your family? People need money for their family, that makes it okay for them to rob a bank?? No it doesn’t! Plenty of immigrants come here legally…theres no excuse that others cant do the same! **StickyGeranium:** > Moving to another country is not in any way analogous to robbing a bank. The former involves joining and contributing to a community, the latter involves taking other people’s property, often by force. **Nik Hay:** > You’re not the bearer of bad news. You’re the bearer of misinformation and alarmism. There’s a slight difference. **Cristina Tzintzun:** > There are next to no options to come legally to the U.S. for farmers and the urban poor of Mexico and Central America, yet the U.S. depends heavily on their labor. Undocumented immigrants make incredible sacrifices and face awful working conditions and discrimination. If you are concerned about breaking of the law, be concerned about how their human rights are violated, and support comprehensive immigration reform. > > Once our laws also said slavery was correct, but it didn’t make it moral. Same goes for our immigration system. > > I suggest reading *Illegal People* by David Bacon. **Martha Mendoza:** > Kids are brought here without knowing what awaits them. You were lucky enough to have someone that could make your immigration status legal, as was I. These people don’t have that upper hand. And no, they are not taking jobs away from American citizens. In Alabama, the crackdown on illegal immigrants caused them to flee the state, leaving their jobs at (mostly) tomato plantations. As a result, there were gone-bad tomatoes that were not picked (huge scale), thousands of dollars in loss for American farmers, and reduced acreage of these plantations (less product). They tried to find legal, American citizens to work the fields. NO ONE WANTED TO WORK THERE. Those who tried it out did not stay for more than a week. Consequences: tomato prices went up, jobs LOST, and [less money for the economy.]( > > This is the case all over the United States. Undocumented people do not get nearly as many benefits as you and I do. They are not taking our jobs. Matter of fact, they are filling the jobs that no citizen wants to have because we have other options. I worked in the fields for a summer, and believe me; I will not do it again. And I challenge you to try it. The produce that you buy (broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, carrots, celery, avocados, onions, tomatoes, apples, grapes, cherries, peaches, strawberries, the list does not end) would be dollars more expensive if citizens worked the fields. Why? Because the labor is hard and the hours are long. Citizens would be paid more, as they have more rights. Immigrants have no other choice. They take 8 dollars per hour for a job that I easily say, deserves 12-15 dollars per hour. You have no idea how much this cheap labor positively affects the United States economy. Also, they get money taken away from their checks that is never given back, so that is better for you! > > P.S. the government knows EXACTLY what they are doing. Exploitation and making people dependent on them is the best way to make money. Read about NAFTA, yeah? Maybe you will find something out. The reason why they don’t just sweep them all, is because they are needed. What you must understand is that everything has been considered, and this is what benefits the government the most for now. > > Also, Medicaid is for retired people, immigrants don’t retire. They don’t have a social security, so you get to keep their money. **Anna Viveros:** > > If the U.S. government takes part in unethical dealings then the government can’t complain about the undocumented immigration. The U.S. just has to "deal" in this case because the U.S. was wrong to plunder Latin American resources and contribute to genocide in Central America. Also, there is a hierarchy of moral reasoning and the law is not always correct, which I am sure you know. Think back to when Asians were barred from citizenship in the U.S. or when segregation was lawful. Many immigrants (which are usually from Asia, Pacific Islands, Latin America, etc.) have to decide to either leave their homes, families, and all they know to seek a better life. Lastly, basic human rights aren’t just stripped from you because you don’t have documentation. Immigration policy is not as simple as you think it is. It is not a matter of illegal and legal. No one chooses to be dirt poor and thus unable to pay legal fees for legal entry. Again, this is an issue that is more complex than you think. I would only encourage you to look deeper beyond the superficial "right" and "wrong" dichotomy because it does not serve anyone well. ________ Each week, we round up the best comments in our community. Join the conversation here on, and on [Facebook]( and [Twitter](