An Open Letter To Illegal Immigrants

To the illegal immigrant I misunderstood,

First off, I want to explain myself. I grew up around Hispanics, Mexicans, and Latinos my whole life working on a farm. I never once cared to understand why you only spoke Spanish, constantly had your phone around, or were always eagerly awaiting for your check at the end of every week.

I didn't understand why you came here to work in fields from sun up to sun down. I didn't understand why you left after only a few short months. I didn't understand why some I never saw again. I didn't understand why my mom always encouraged me to be nice to you, "say gracias and buenos dias," she would urge.

I saw you for what I wanted to see: laborers, greedy people wanting their check every Sunday, always obsessing over cell phones, Spanish music, and tacos. I saw you as a liability, a problem, an annoyance, but worst of all, I saw you as less.

All it took for this to be demolished was a conversation. One 15 minute dialogue between you and I. The language barrier was difficult, but we worked through it and now, what I don't understand is how I ever could've misunderstood you.

You have families in Mexico: wives, sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers. You have homes, and favorite meals, and memories. You have pets, Churches you attend, and wedding photos hanging in your houses. You are every bit of my equal.

You left Mexico for seven months; you left everything you knew, everything that was familiar, to come here to do a job that is one of the most physical demanding of any. Your only communication to your home is a cell phone. Spanish music brings back a sense of what you left behind, and money, the money you work hard for and earn, is what leaves you with hope that one day you can return.

You are the primary breadwinner for your family. Leaving a country that has terrible wages and is distressed with chaos, you came here, to America. Willing to do anything to give the ones you love a better life, any life.

I look at you, the 20 year old, and I see myself. Except, you're not getting ready to move back into your dorm for your third year of college, you wake up in the morning, put on your clothes, and go to a field to work.

I look at you, the 28 year old, with a son who is going to start school in a few weeks and a daughter who is going into elementary school. Instead of standing by your wife's side, taking pictures, giving hugs, and sending them to the bus, you're pulling weeds from crops at 8:00 am.

I am ashamed for the way I perceived you. I am regretful that I didn't see the sacrifice you carry on your chest everyday. I am unsure how you are able to do it. But most of all, I am sorry.

I don't see you as a worker anymore, I see you as a human being — a selfless one who helps my family harvest a crop. With that money, I'm able to go to college, watch television at night, play on my iPhone when I'm bored, and fortunately enough, write this article.

I don't see you as greedy anymore. I see you as well deserving for the money you earned and I wish I could give you so much more.

I don't see you as a problem, I see my preconceived notions as one. I don't see you as an annoyance, I see you as the biggest blessing to this world, the fields you work in, my family, and most of all- me

So, for what it's worth, maybe a lot... maybe nothing at all. I regret misunderstanding you, for pegging you wrong, for taking you for granted, and for most of all, not seeing you for the heart you have.

I'm sorry.

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