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Jumping Fences This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


The rhythmic sounds of banging hammers and shovels scraping cement-filled wheelbarrows faded into the background as I looked up and surveyed my surroundings. All I could see for miles were plywood shacks and sand, until I caught sight of the coastline and the luxury hotels dotting the shore of the ocean. I was in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, more commonly known as Rocky Point, with classmates from my high school, helping a family move out of a plywood shack and into the stucco house we were building for them.

Seeing how these families lived, I began to understand the desperation that drives poor people to covertly cross a desert or scale a fence to enter the land of opportunity we have the pleasure of living in. On the other side of that fence is running water, electricity, employment, and a better life. These fence-jumpers are not thieves or murderers; they are loving parents in search a better life for their families.

I am a resident of the state of Arizona, currently infamous because of the recent passage of Senate Bill 1070. This bill requires law enforcement officials to request documentation, or proof of citizenship, from anyone they have a reasonable suspicion is not in the country legally. The problem is, it’s pretty difficult to find a person here illegally without resorting to racial profiling, which right now the courts have agreed is against the law.

Sadly, racial profiling is all too common among law enforcement officers. I recently met somebody – I’ll call him “Victor” – who felt he was a victim of racial profiling. One night, a police officer stopped him because he made a “wide turn.” Was it really that, or was it because Victor was Mexican? Victor could not produce documentation that proved he was in the U.S. legally, so he was taken to jail and asked to sign a voluntary deportation form. Unfortunately for Victor, he had lived in the U.S. for so long that he had lost contact with any relatives he had in Mexico. So rather than sign the form and risk being left homeless and alone in Mexico, he decided to stay in prison with a roof over his head and his family nearby.

After two days, because he still refused to sign the deportation form, Victor was transported to a maximum security prison. What he went through during his time there was so horrific that he decided it would be best left unsaid. Did he deserve this kind of treatment because his parents brought him to the U.S. illegally as a baby? He never had a choice in the matter. The American way of life is all Victor knows. Should he be deported to a country he does not know because of the actions of his parents?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. But what I do know is that undocumented immigrants are people just like you and me, trying to make a life for themselves, and the solution to this issue is not a racist law that harms good people like Victor.

Victor was brought here because his parents wanted a better life for him, and they knew they could get it if they jumped a fence. If the roles were reversed, I’d jump that fence too. How about you?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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ReneetheGreat This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 13, 2010 at 11:34 am:
This is really cool! I love your point of view and the way you told Victor's story. You really ahve a way with words. And if it were me I'd jump the fence.
 
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