Tamara Estes may have a similar story to you. Each morning she wakes up and starts her daily routine. Like clockwork, she’s up before sunrise, takes her medication for energy and arthritic fingers, and gets ready for her job. Except her job reminds her of America’s main problem…
Estes drives a school bus; a job you wouldn’t expect to lead to frustration over America. But after picking up over 100 students, many of whom are undocumented Mexicans, she realized how much of her tax money is going to non-citizens.
Directly next to Estes lives an immigrant family who is also beginning their day. The father wakes up and heads out the door at dark for his construction job while his wife cooks breakfast. For over 20 years, the family has worked without legal status and issues, but their four children gained U.S. citizenship after being born in the U.S.
The oldest child, 15-year-old Rainier Corral, is like any other student. He grabs his book bag and Trumpet and heads out the door to school. He’s a key lineman on the high school football team and is planning to study mechanical engineering at Texas A&M. The family saved money to give Rainier and his siblings the best schooling they could. But with Trump’s recent threat to deport millions of illegal immigrants, Rainier and his family are living in fear.
Estes, on the other hand, is filled with new hope. According to the Washington Post, she feels like she’s been living the opposite of the American dream:
“For years, she has felt she was living the American Dream in reverse, her life sliding backward, in part, she believes, because illegal immigrants take good jobs and drive up her taxes. Now she thinks her life will improve because Trump is promising to ‘take our country back.’”
Immigration has changed life
“I wish we could go back to a time when we could live, not just exist when everything wasn’t a struggle,” Estes said. She told Washington Post how difficult it has become to live. Estes, 59, lives off of $24,000 a year which is too high to qualify for most government aid programs and too low to pay for the gruesome healthcare that brings high monthly premiums.
Healthcare has been so expensive that when she broke her arm last year, she wrapped it in a $15 brace from a nearby store and took some ibuprofen. Much like other middle-class families, Estes truly believes that living life as an illegal Mexican immigrant in America is easier than living as an American working-class taxpayer.
Estes calls babies like Rainier, ‘Anchor Babies,’ because when they are born, they get immediate citizenship. As these babies grow more and more in numbers, Estes believes that she and other American’s are paying for it.
Since the end of the Civil War, the United States has been giving “birthright citizenship” to babies who are born on U.S. soil. In 1868, the United States Congress adopted the 14th Amendment to the Constitution which was designed to promise citizenship to freed slaves.
Interestingly enough, the past three years have influenced every developed economy (except Canada) to abandon/restrict birthright citizenship. However, America hasn’t become like these nations. According to the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, 7 percent of all U.S. births (about 275,000 babies) were to illegal immigrants in 2014.
Texas, however, has a much greater percentage of these babies. According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, 25% of deliveries were reported from illegal immigrants and paid for by Medicaid. The births cost taxpayers $116 million dollars.
Those against eliminating the birthright citizenship say that integrating immigrants is what makes the U.S. so special, which is true. But many also say that denying this type of citizenship will create “a huge new underclass of people living outside the law.” Some even say that eliminating this will encourage illegal immigration which will drain public resources… a humorous statement to conservatives who already believe that’s happening.
Counting the cost
Rainier’s mother, Reyes, was just 18 when she came to the U.S. illegally on a tourist visa. It was her hope that giving birth in the United States would give her children a better life than what they could have got growing up in their mining town of Durango, Mexico.
After the government’s recent decisions, the family now stays home on an average basis. With ICE out in random locations such as Walmart, they can’t afford to go out anymore. But the family does choose to continue going to Catholic mass which hosts 1,400 other members. According to Washington Post, the pastor has even said that many are choosing to skip mass for fear that agents will stake out the church.
Despite being worried about deportation herself, Reyes decided to get interviewed by the Washington Post because she wanted to let others know the threat coming towards immigrants (legal and illegal).
While many say they are just illegal immigrants, their actions say otherwise. The family surprisingly pays $1,700 a year on property tax and files a federal return.
Similar but not the same
Both families return home at the end of a hard day with little pay. They both hope and pray for better and they both live a similar way. But the families have barely spoken. And any relationship they did have disappeared when Estes put up her Trump sign. Estes says her stance against “illegal” isn’t personal and that her Hispanic neighbors offer help before the white neighbors do. But she believes something needs to change and she believes Trump is going to bring that change to the working class.
Credit: Washington Post