Immigration Rights in America

By Jeffrey Pulido
July 5, 2013

dream act inside

Dream Rally 011 by Edward Kimmel, CC-BY-2.0.

LOS ANGELES, Ca. – Immigration in the United States has existed since the country’s beginning. The British came to North America, and those who stayed could be called the first immigrants. As time has passed, many laws have been created to make this a great nation, but what rights do immigrants have? The answer is not many. Some states, such as Arizona, have passed strict immigration laws, driving immigrants out of the country and separating families.

Why is this important? An estimated 11-12 million undocumented immigrants live and work in the United States to make better lives for themselves and their families. Not only that, but one out of 20 of those people who come, according to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center, are on government figures. President Barack Obama has enacted regulations in which undocumented students have rights, such as being able to receive financial aid, better work opportunities, and much more.

During the presidential debates that happened on October 16, 2012, Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney discussed what they would do to help the undocumented. Romney was criticized for his use of the word “illegals” when speaking about undocumented immigrants. Soon, Obama told the audience that he would not go against students, but only those who abuse the law and hurt their communities. By doing so, he caught the attention of those who would benefit from the Dream Act, legislation yet to be passed that would help undocumented youth get help with going to college and becoming citizens.

Another good example of a politician who is helpful to immigrants is California Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval of the California Dream Act to support young immigrants in California. In signing the bill in October 2011, he gave undocumented people in the state the right to have work permits and be able to receive scholarships and grants for colleges and universities in California and in other states. In order to qualify, immigrants must have been younger than 16 when they came to the U.S. and have graduated from, or are attending, a California high school. With this new bill, around 30,000 undocumented people can benefit from this opportunity.

On October 9, 2013, I interviewed an anonymous person and asked him questions about his feelings on immigration, and he said, “I truly feel as if there are some rights that we are supposed to have, but Americans don’t want us to have. I have noticed many families that have been broken apart because of these rights and inequalities we have. The truth is that we are all human beings and nothing more and no one can change that. But as time changed, the people started to forget the equal rights we all have as people. I think Obama is really trying to help the undocumented with his policies.”

He added that with Obama’s reelection, “there might be a better future for the country and for its people and immigrants inside of it.”

Personally, I see some inequalities between an American citizen and an undocumented person. I’ve seen some families broken apart because of deportation. The thing that some anti-immigration proponents don’t realize is that the people who come to this country just want a better life for themselves and their children. They perform hard labor in farms to other jobs that many people would not like to do because of the low wages and tough physical demands. The truth is that, in many cases, they work to feed their families or just simply support the families from where they came. In the end, I honestly think if immigrants had more rights, it would help them throughout the time they are here to support their families.

Editor’s note: This story is one of seven pieces written by students from Santee Education Complex as part of a joint project between the high school and the Daniel Pearl Foundation.


A Closer Look at the Problem of Teenage Pregnancy

By Wendy Garcia
July 5, 2013


The belly by koalie, CC-BY-2.0.

LOS ANGELES, Ca. – Teenage pregnancy is a huge problem for our generation. A lot of teens are getting pregnant at an early age — the Los Angeles Times reports that around 400,000 American teens age 15-19 have babies every year — which can interrupt a girl’s plans and school attendance. It can also cause the teen stress and possibly depression, especially when thinking about how to break the news to everyone who cares about her.

Rather than thinking about what she was going to do after school and going out to have fun, the teen instead must worry about taking care of the baby and whether she can make enough money to support her child. Most teenage pregnancy is unplanned, which can cause major problems for the teen and the baby if she is not ready to become a parent.

Some teens do not know how to take care of themselves yet and still need their parents’ help. If a teen is not ready for a child, the mother may not know how to care for the baby, which can result in bad parenting.

At school I see many pregnant teens and think to myself, “Poor girl, she doesn’t know what she just got herself into.” Pregnancy can affect a teen most negatively when her peers make fun of or talk bad about her. This could lead to depression, or she might try to hurt herself or her baby. She might also think that no one will help her.

The teen might be scared, but if she is willing to get help, she can become informed about the baby’s health and how to best take care of the baby.

Teenage pregnancy is a serious issue, but a teen mom who may not seem mature can learn how to take care of and support her child, especially with the guidance of an adult or an organization, such as Project NATEEN at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, designed to help young parents take care of their babies — and themselves.

Editor’s note: This story is one of seven pieces written by students from Santee Education Complex as part of a joint project between the high school and the Daniel Pearl Foundation.

Going Green

By Emiliano Vera Jr.
July 5, 2013

LOS ANGELES, Ca.: I would love to live in a community that is healthy, clean and energy-efficient. Growing up in the streets of Los Angeles, where thinking green isn’t a concern, I have seen the dirtiest streets–it is not a pretty sight. This leads me to wonder: If many parts of a big city look like that, what does the rest of the world look like?

Now that we are running out of resources and we are realizing the Earth is changing at a dramatic rate, commercials, posters and even politicians are urging us to find ways to help save energy and cause less pollution. Why? There are many reasons.

One reason is saving money. By saving energy–which means turning off lights that are not being used, unplugging any unnecessary devices from outlets, etc.–electricity costs can be reduced while helping the environment at the same time. But some people either do not know or care about these facts and currently don’t make saving energy and fighting pollution a priority.

Crystal Penaloza, a student from Santee High School, noted, “We all know what’s the right thing to do, but we don’t make it a priority.” I agree, because when people, including myself, see people litter, we often just continue with our day instead of doing something about it.

I have my own reason why we should go green. Walking in the streets of Los Angeles can be an adventure–and not a fun one. You could walk on one block and it might be in decent shape, but another might be dirty and smelly.

But who wouldn’t want to live a community that is healthy and vibrant? The only way a community can be as clean as possible is if everyone in the community is involved and communicates. This leads to less conflict and teaches kids that keeping the streets clean is the right thing to do.

Thinking green should become a worldwide habit, because we all live on the same planet. Even if we are keeping our part of the world clean, another might be polluted, and we will all be affected by that, too.

I am a student from Santee High School, and as someone who enjoys nature, it makes me sad that the planet is being destroyed by bags of chips and pollution from motor vehicles and that I am one of the few people I know who practice green thinking in daily life. I would like to spread information about why being green is important and how to take steps to save the planet.


Editor’s note: This story is one of seven pieces written by students from Santee Education Complex as part of a joint project between the high school and the Daniel Pearl Foundation.