I shouldn't be surprised at the BBC any more, but their article My life trapped in an American city was so egregious that I feel it deserves a thorough fisking.
My family and I migrated to Phoenix, Arizona, when I was eight years old. I'm now 22 and a student of engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso.
I'm not a criminal yet in a way I'm treated like one.
Well, your parents arranged to violate the immigration laws of the country in which you find yourself, so it's not surprising that the way you could be treated is analogous to the way that others who have broken the laws are treated. And I can't help but notice that you're not blaming your parents for this situation despite the fact that they explicitly arranged for it to happen.
El Paso has checkpoints around it where immigration officers ask for your documents, documents I obviously don't have. I can't leave the city or I risk deportation. Fortunately, my parents became US residents two years ago but, unfortunately, this isn't the case for my sisters, aged 25 and 18, and me.
When they got their papers they moved back to Phoenix in search of more job opportunities after four years of living here. But I risked putting my college education in jeopardy and getting deported if I crossed the checkpoint and was asked for my documents.
I also wonder whether your parents' immigration status would be jeopardized if USCIS found out that they were actively working to conceal other illegal immigrants - you and your sisters, specifically.
My parents visit me once every three or four months - because of work and other things they can't be here more often. But since they all moved I haven't seen my youngest sister. Her high school graduation was last month and I was unable to go even though everyone in the family was there. And I know neither one of my sisters will be able to attend mine.
On the other hand, you get a gratis US taxpayer funded high school education, and I can't help but notice a complete lack of gratitude for this.
I try not to complain since I'm the first of my parents' children to go to college. I feel very lucky. On the other hand, there are days when I'm just tired of it.
I feel like I don't have rights.
Well, you have all the regular rights of anyone within the United States, citizen or otherwise, as enumerated in the Constitution - in fact, a heck of a lot more than in Mexico. What you mean is, you don't have the right to be treated like a legal resident of the country - because you aren't. That's like me visiting Paris and complaining that I don't have the right to be treated like a French citizen. I'm not a French citizen, there's no prospect of me becoming one, and just because I'm touring the Eiffel Tower doesn't give me any rights to that status.
When they ask me "Why aren't you working? or "Why don't you drive?" I have to make them believe that I'm lazy. So they just stop asking. The truth is I'm unable to work or get a driving licence.
As soon as we crossed the border I had to assimilate myself. I learned English and as I was learning it as a child, our teachers would straight out say "Stop speaking Spanish. You're in America now". A few months later I would win spelling bees - compete against white people who only spoke English - and still win.
You've done a great job of learning the language: fantastic! Just curious: what did you learn about the laws of the country you're living in, and the need to respect them? Because that's also kinda important.
After the 2008 recession my dad, a civil engineer, couldn't find a job in Phoenix and we lost the house we had. So we had to go back to Mexico.
I had such a terrible time, it was probably the worst of my life. I was so Americanised that I didn't fit in. That's what they ask you to do to be accepted in the American culture. I had lost my Mexican identity. We were there for a year and a half before we came back.
Looking at your age (22 now) this looks like: left Mexico at age 8, returned to Mexico at age 12, came back to USA at age 13/14. Pardon me for scenting a certain amount of license with the truth here. At age 8 you'd be speaking fluent Mexican Spanish. After 4 years in the USA you'll certainly have an American accent, but you'll be immersed in an immigrant community and frequently hearing and speaking Spanish. The problem is, you didn't like being back in Mexico because it wasn't as nice as being in the USA - even with all the illegal immigration limitations you document so heavily.
I know so much history about this country, more than average US nationals, and I have so much respect for it seeing as I get myself involved in politics to help improve this country's current state. I involve myself more than citizens, people who should worry more about this nation given that it really is theirs.
I see. So you don't think that, for instance, politics in the USA should be reserved for those who are actually citizens and bear voting rights and responsibilities? In fact, by the sound of it, you consider yourself better informed and more responsible than they are? I can't imagine that generating any resentment at all.
It's difficult to dream in a country that, regardless of everything I've done, which is what most immigrants do, doesn't welcome you even if you've seen it as home for most of your life.
I've found the USA very welcoming to immigrants. But then, I came here by following the rules that the USA had laid down for immigrants. Almost as if Americans don't appreciate those trying to end-run around the rules that others are following. Go figure.
I understand that they have the right to choose to whom they grant citizenship. I just wish they would give me some sort of help. I've given up part of my culture, my roots, to be accepted here. I've already given some of me.
Why can't this country give something back?
What, like a free high school education? A community which is so attractive that you'd rather live there illegally than in your home country legally? Legal status for your older sister and parents? Yes, you've really been hard done over by the USA.
Three semesters from now, when I graduate, I may still be deported. And I may never see my sisters again until they can get papers, which by the looks of it will probably be in 12 more years.
You should go and talk to Indian or Chinese H1-B visa holders and ask them about their timelime to permanent resident (Green Card) status. They'd love to only have to wait 12 years. If you want to see your sisters again, you can always go to Mexico after you graduate. What you're actually saying is that you prefer the economic and educational benefits of living in the USA to seeing your sisters. That's a perfectly rational choice, but it's your choice, and it's a bit much to blame the USA for the situation that you can't have your cake and eat it.
You can't deny that this has affected me. This shouldn't be happening.
Right. Your parents shouldn't have repeatedly violated US immigration law in the first place to put you in this invidious position. And yet that doesn't seem to be your point, for some reason...
Pull your head out of your ass, girl. If you really want to stay in the USA, find an American citizen and marry them. I assume that's how your older sister got her residence status. It may be a sacrifice - you might already be in love with someone who's not a USA citizen - but you have to decide what's most important to you.