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  • Edición impresa de Mayo 1, 2018.

Every time I look at a story on TV or in a magazine, I see numbers and numbers quoted to make a point. This week I was told that nearly 40 percent of DACA recipients are high school or college students, and most of them come from Mexico, El Salvador or Guatemala. While the majority of DACA recipients are from Mexico and Latin America, others are from Asia, Africa, and other parts of the world.

I also read that 365,000 high school students across the United States were eligible for DACA status, and that another 241,000 of DACA-eligible students were enrolled in college. Together, that’s roughly half, or 51 percent, of the DACA-eligible population of nearly 1.2 million.

Also Fifty-five percent of DACA recipients are employed, amounting to 382,000 workers. They account for 0.25 percent of all U.S. workers. Sixty-two percent of those not in the labor force are enrolled in school.

All those numbers did not make me forget about the local people that I know, and how I admire their determination and resilience. I remember Jose(not his real name), he has been working since he was very young while studying and caring for his younger siblings. His parents have not supported him much because their daily life is full, both from hard work and always watching for the ‘migra’. Nevertheless, Jose manages to look like any other young man. He is socially active and also politically minded. He is making a name for himself in the local community and his expectation is to be fully part of the town that has educated him and where many of his friends are.

As I read more and more numbers I hope Jose’s face and that of his friends doesn’t fade in my conscience. Other numbers that have been flaunted these past days are the 1200 or larger group of Central Americans who began a caravan in late March from their countries of origin.

According to the numbers, only about two hundred of them have reached the U.S. border. At the border they expect, as a group, to turn themselves over to the U.S. authorities, applying for asylum, but border inspectors say they don’t have staff and space to accommodate that many people at once. Organizers said they’ll put women with children and children traveling alone at the front of the line.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the caravan “a deliberate attempt to undermine our laws and overwhelm our system.” And Trump wrote, “I have instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security not to let these large Caravans of people into our Country. It is a disgrace. We are the only Country in the World so naive! WALL”.

It is not illegal to enter the country at a port of entry and ask for asylum as international law requires that the United States consider asylum claims. The migrants say they’re not planning to sneak across the border, but to turn themselves in peacefully and ask for asylum. “People who have a legitimate fear of persecution, under US law, have a right to present their case,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the top Democrat on the House subcommittee on immigration, said on Monday. “That’s not a violation of immigration law. That’s a part of immigration law.”

I have heard people on both sides of the issue making statements and others having an opinion. I don’t know anyone in the caravan, but I hope I can remember that we are talking about 200 or more human beings that are affected by this situation. What if one of them was my sister or brother? Would I feel different about the issue, or would they just be numbers?

 


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