To the editor: Nearly 20 years ago, I flew to San Francisco alone with two huge suitcases and an old photograph of my grandfather and uncle; I was 12 and I still remember all the flight attendants being so amused that I was traveling all the way from Hong Kong alone. My first contact with a U.S. immigration officer resulted in me being detained. It took a few hours before they finally stamped my passport and allowed me entry.
I was never told why I was detained. Did I make a mistake?
I find myself asking that same question today. My father was on an H-1B visa, and by the time I was in high school, it became clear that I did not enjoy the same opportunities as my friends and classmates. I had an H-4 visa, but I could not work, drive or accept any scholarships. I was offered a full ride to a university, which was rescinded upon discovery of my immigration status.
I was 20 when my father went to renew his visa and was told that I would be ineligible to be his dependent when I turned 21. I was in the middle of nursing school, paying nonresident tuition despite having lived here for years. Thus began my years working under the table as a caregiver and then a nursing assistant.
I was almost 25 when I had saved enough money to enroll at Fullerton College. That same year, President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. I do not exaggerate when I say that DACA changed my life. Without it, I would not have been able to work part-time while going to school. I was no longer at the mercy of unscrupulous employers, having been granted the same legal protections as any American worker. I could call in sick, qualify for vacation pay and get health insurance.
If you believe that getting rid of me and those like me will make America great again, then you have misunderstood what it means to be American. All my life, Americans taught me the value of hard work and sacrifice. I was told that grit was the key to the American dream. People like me have lived most of our whole lives among you — we are your neighbors, your co-workers, your friends.
Killing DACA will not solve your immigration problem, but it will kill our American dream.
Marwin Luminarias, Orange
To the editor: As a teacher who worked with "Dreamers" who were taking an extra college-prep course after the end of the school day, I was impressed with my students who, despite many challenges, all went on to college at the end of the year.
I can assure you they were more articulate, worked harder and had more integrity and leadership skills than our current president. We should be offering them a path to citizenship, so that they will be the leaders of the future.
These people are the future of this nation.
Joan Horn, Carlsbad
To the editor: I'm having trouble understanding the reporting of the DACA issue by The Times.
In 2012, this program was instituted by Obama as temporary relief for individuals who do not present a risk to national security and meet other qualifications. At no time was this a guarantee of legal immunity, eventual citizenship or a permanent fix. It's up to Congress to put laws in place that address immigration.
Stop writing of the dissolution of DACA as if it is a travesty for the people who have staked their lives on a temporary fix. Perhaps it's best to define the word "temporary" to people who have misused this program as amnesty.
Tom Killinger, Van Nuys
To the editor: I was born in 1948 in England. My parents had lived all over the world before we triplets were born.
When I was 3, my father decided to move us all to Canada. At 15, we were moved to America. My father applied for all five of us to have our green cards. However, one day he made a mistake.
He was used to flying into other countries, not driving. So, on the day he drove us over the border into Mexico, he was not aware he had broken the law.
We had a wonderful day exploring Tijuana. We were stopped as we attempted to drive back into the United States. We had no "papers" with us. After two hours at the border, we were allowed back in.
We were white, after all.
Wendy A. Robinson, Saugus
To the editor: In "History of The World, Part I," Moses (played by Mel Brooks) is given by God three stone tablets with 15 laws. Dropping and destroying one tablet, Moses settles for 10 Commandments to give to his people.
On that destroyed tablet must have been the law (or laws) regarding immigration.
Immigration laws have not been, especially in this country, a founding principle. After all, we as well as Moses and his followers are or were all immigrants.
We have constructed these onerous laws only after we wrested the country away from the previous set of immigrants.
Larry Harnell, Granada Hills
To the editor: The Dreamers should be thankful to President Trump for forcing Congress to finally take legal and permanent action to give them a secure position in this country.
It is sad that the politicians could not be bothered to do their job without a Trump push.
Brad Gardner, Indio