3 who graduated in Sacramento go to work, uncertain they’ll ever be official U.S. citizens is the headline of today’s big article in the Sacramento Bee. One of the people featured is Alma Avalos, an extraordinary bilingual aide at our school.
It’s definitely worth reading the entire article. Here’s an excerpt:
Alma Avalos says the American story is the only one she has ever known.
Her father and mother, still waiting on 8-year-old applications for U.S. citizenship, worked illegally as a landscaper and appliance cleaner and served up steaming plates of Mexican food at home.
But Avalos says she’s “clueless” about Mexico. She speaks far better English than Spanish. Until she was a teenager, she say, “I didn’t realize I wasn’t part of the United States.”
It hit home when she interviewed fellow students at Luther Burbank High for a senior project on the California Dream Act, which ultimately allowed eligible undocumented immigrants to apply for state financial aid for college. Avalos said classmates who didn’t know her status told her they thought it was unfair that under a 2001 California law, undocumented immigrants are allowed to pay in-state college tuition rates.
She finally announced during her class presentation that she was an undocumented immigrant preparing for college.
“People said, ‘Really? I didn’t know you were illegal,’ ” Avalos said. “I said, what do you think undocumented looks like?”
Working in a restaurant without a Social Security card, driving without a California license, she never forgot her problematic legal status. After enrolling at Sacramento State, where she is working on a degree in childhood development, Avalos looked into teaching English in Mexico, where she could work legally.
“My mother said, ‘What are you going to do there? You have no idea what Mexico is,’ ” Avalos recalled.
Under the Obama administration’s two-year permit program, she now works legally, translating classroom lectures and materials for Spanish-speaking students at her former high school.
She tells them, “You help me with my Spanish. And I’ll help you with your English.”
I’m adding it to The Best Resources About The New Push For Immigration Reform.