September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month which celebrates the long history and rich cultures of the nearly 62 million people who make up the Hispanic and Latinx communities in the United States. The impact of the Hispanic and Latinx population on the economy, history, and culture of this country cannot be celebrated without appreciating the diverse heritage and countries of origin including Mexico, Spain, as well as two dozen nations in Central and South America and the Caribbean.
Immigration has played an essential role in US history, yet different opinions on immigration policy persist and are a source of political debate. Four-in-five Latinos are U.S. Citizens., but misconceptions about immigrants and their motives for migrating to the U.S., their impact on the economy, and the long process to obtain documentation are pervasive. Regardless of immigration status, the contributions of millions of immigrants and the challenges they face within the American experience cannot be discredited.
Today, we hear from a local leader in our community who immigrated here from Mexico and works closely with our Hispanic and Latino neighbors, including the undocumented:
By Dora Fabian, Spanish Resource Advocate, St. Vincent de Paul
It is sad to say it, but it is difficult for our recently arrived and undocumented Latino groups to adapt. A big barrier is how difficult it is for them to rent an apartment without Social Security. The deposit that they are often asked for is high, or without Social Security, they cannot rent. Many of those who hire the undocumented provide jobs with low salary and without the right to vacations.
A few years back, a grant from the Basic Needs Giving Partnership within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region (supported by the U.S. Venture Open Fund, the J.J. Keller Foundation, Inc. and other community partners) provided support for my role as a Spanish Resource Advocate to better connect the Hispanic community to services. I am sharing this story as part of Hispanic Heritage Month..
The people we are receiving are really having hard times in their countries due to the political climate or drug trafficking. Every time they receive help, they thank us by blessing all of us who are able to assist them. A lot of them are able to drive but cannot do it here. We close the doors of opportunity on them by asking them to get a driver’s license when we know that they cannot get one and by also asking them for a good credit score when they just arrived!
Getting a valid ID will be good for them, and for us. Driver’s licenses can be excellent and safe for all. A lot of the abuse could end. If people contact our legislators, that would be a good help.
In my conversations with undocumented Latinos, they reiterate how blessed they feel to be here. They appreciate being able to get food, which helps, even if they don’t like asking for help very much. When do they do ask for help, it is often with great shame to do so.
They are here anyway; why deny them the opportunity to rent a place and avoid homelessness? We can help end poverty with a little we do. We don’t know if our kids have to immigrate one day because we are not working together.
We all need to educate ourselves about migration; we all are immigrants. Be kind to the people who don’t know the “rules” and explain it to them. Learn about other cultures.
Our communities are growing, but we all need to work together to make a promising future for our kids.
We’re featuring a series of articles from local authors celebrating our diversity in the Fox Valley. Want more stories like these? Sign up to get in The Loop. And don’t forget to invite a friend to get in The Loop!