The Washington Post has published another one of their heartwrenching testimonial pieces designed to elicit sympathy for illegal aliens and highlight how terrible the Trump administration is. This one has a twist, however. Rather than featuring some illegal who is found and deported, separating them from their family, this is a goodbye note from an illegal alien who voluntarily decided to go back to Mexico along with his parents and siblings.
The author is Ariel Rodriguez, who is described as, “a freelance journalist living in Mexico City.” Of course, that’s a rather recent update. For the past ten years, he was attending school and getting a degree in journalism from an American university, working a variety of jobs and just, you know… being an American (of the “undocumented” nature). The title of the piece sets the tone for the entire farewell letter… Undocumented and disillusioned, I decided to leave America. This loss is mutual.
You have to read the entire thing to get the full feel for it, but a few choice segments stand out and deserve a closer look. Of particular interest is the opening, where Rodriguez describes the circumstances of his initial entry into the country.
At 15, I arrived in the United States with a suitcase full of clothes, a picture of my golden retriever and the excitement of starting my new life. That was 10 years ago. Last month, the day after I graduated from college, I got on a nonstop flight that carried me and my new journalism degree away from the place I call home, back to a place my family and I once waved goodbye to. I am unsure I will be allowed to reenter.
So he was 15 years old when he was brought here, but it obviously wasn’t against his will. He was technically still a minor but was participating in the family decision to illegally cross the border. He was “excited” to start his new life in America. He also very clearly knew that he was here illegally. The author didn’t qualify for the DACA program, so even after becoming an adult he knowingly remained here in violation of the law. Later in the letter, he describes the difficulties he encountered while obtaining his journalism degree at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.
That education came at a high cost. Ninety percent of my income went toward tuition. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for federal financial aid. I found myself busing and waiting tables in small local restaurants where background checks were not a priority. After very full days, I would come home late at night to work on the homework due the next day. Despite the financial stress and workload, however, school was the only place I felt normal. I was treated just like an American there, even though English wasn’t my native language. No one questioned whether I held a green card. I was rewarded for my hard work.
That’s a real shame. Rodriguez complains that he actually had to pay his tuition because he couldn’t obtain federal financial aid. Well, no. You weren’t entitled to it because you were in the country illegally. He also talks about working multiple jobs, “where background checks were not a priority.” In other words, he found an employer who was either knowingly participating in violating federal law on a daily basis or was too stupid to own a business. What sort of ID did Mr. Rodriguez use to apply for that job, cash his checks and engage in all the other little necessities of life? Was he, perhaps, engaging in identity theft? What about paying taxes? The questions simply abound.
The author then goes on to explain the final reasons his family decided to leave after he graduated. Part of it was Trump, of course. Can’t have an article like this in the WaPo without that detail. But he also complains that he wouldn’t be able to get a good job with his degree.
There were no opportunities for me. My employment prospects were reduced to zero not by any lack of skills, but by the absence of a nine-digit number. Higher education in the United States is basically pointless for the undocumented. The only jobs available are those that ordinary Americans don’t want: housekeeping, landscaping, field work. And so I decided to take my chances in Mexico, where no one will question my eligibility to work or use me as a scapegoat for economic problems.
That’s how it’s supposed to work. If you’re in the country illegally, don’t have a social security number and are not part of the system, you aren’t supposed to be able to get a sweet gig writing for the Wall Street Journal. You’re an illegal alien. The fact is, no matter how nice all of your teachers and fellow students were to you in college, you were never welcome. You were breaking the law.
This is, somewhat amazingly, a classic case of what Mitt Romney famously described as self-deportation. Rodriguez and his family were dismayed by the attitude of the government on display under Donald Trump. He awoke to the fact that he couldn’t simply ignore all the laws and go become a journalist. So they decided to leave before ICE found them and removed the choice. Then, in closing, the author explains the curious title of the piece and why this was a mutual loss: “The way I see it, this loss is mutual: I lost the chance to have a life in America. America lost the chance to have me.”
Not for nothing, but what you lost was the chance to keep living an illegal existence in America. You lost the chance to keep breaking the law with every hour you worked and every dollar in pay you collected. And as for how much of a loss it is for America to lose you… I’ll just stop there. Best of luck in Mexico.