For those of you who know me, this article will not hold many surprises or new information; rather, this will be the sort of thing you hear me talk about all the time.It has become a part of me that has not been developed out of pure interest, but because many of these issues have affected my life from the very first time my family set foot in this country.
My involvement in the city of Goshen has been out of a sense of duty that took hold of me three years ago when I began to take an active part in contributing to my community. I have been following federal immigration policy since 2010, when millions of DREAMers became objective and notorious immigration reform activists.
These DREAMers were usually, but not exclusively, Latinx youth who had been brought to the States at an early age. They are practically Americans in every sense except in one important way: they are not citizens.
Our lack, and I include myself, of official citizenship, is limiting and sobering when you are of age to further your education or contribute to the economy.
Fortunately, in 2012, President Obama issued a legitimate executive order called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Many became outraged, and about 11 million of us shed tears of joy because of the new opportunities that a renewable two year working permit would provide us. I finally felt fully part of a country that I know is not one to call mine, but one that I fully love and embrace as mine.
For three years, I contributed to my country by working at the local Martin’s, my first job, and then at a tax preparation office owned by Mexican immigrants here in town. I was able to develop community organizing skills with Latinx leaders who are leaders in both the community and their professions.
I have been blessed to work side by side with the best and most passionate Latino leaders in Goshen and our area to get our Spanish speaking residents involved and improve their lives. Local leaders and business people want the Latinx of Goshen to be part of the system, but that will not happen unless we work together for our common interests and understand our differences.
That’s how I met the mayor and got a nice shout out from him right before the traditional first-year mugging. Last year, the then mayoral candidate Jeremy Stutsman, reached out to local Latinx leaders in the community. Through some indirect connections, I met Mayor Stutsman and became his Get Out to Vote Coordinator for the Latinx voters in Goshen.
To me, this was huge, a candidate taking interest in my people and wanting to genuinely understand them to better represent them is the kind of individual and team I want to support.
Again, I felt a sense of responsibility to help to the best of my ability. Being involved in politics is not something we all necessarily enjoy, but something we have to do as responsible residents.
Notice I did not say citizens, often times one of the details we overlook, is that policy also impacts people who simply live here in Goshen or our country, and that is something I learned during my time working with Mayor Stutsman.
An elected official not only represents the citizens of this country, in addition he also represents the rest of the people who live and contribute to our nation. Mayor Stutsman was willing to understand the needs of those who would not cast a vote for him last November because their support and approval is conveyed in different significant ways.
If Goshen’s mayor was unwelcoming to immigrants and supported anti-immigrant policies in city council, where would our RV industry stand? Our Latinx immigrant population has been at historic peaks and as has the RV industry, so much so that this past summer many companies reached record sales.
The high immigrant population in Elkhart County has filled these vacant spots in the factories. If we lacked an immigrant community, these companies may have exported their sites long ago to other parts of the country.
Even so, more jobs are being created, and there are not enough workers to take those jobs. Elkhart County would have decreased in population, and the economy would still be suffering from the Great Recession.
What if this example was applied to our country as a whole? Where would we be without immigrants, documented or undocumented? I’m not proposing we open up our borders or that we need more immigrants in Goshen; my only goal is to bring you my perspective.
This is part of the narrative I have developed through my unique set of experiences growing up in a Mexican household in the only home I’ve known.