Christy Smith: Time to hear what Dreamers have to say

By Signal Contributor

Last update: Friday, September 22nd, 2017

I was born in Wurzburg, Germany.  My birth certificate(s) are a mish mash of documents in German and English and include a “souvenir” birth certificate courtesy of the U.S. Army, along with a hand-written receipt for the $7.50 my parents paid to take me home from the U.S. Army hospital where I was born.  Born of two U.S. citizens, my father an enlisted man at the time, there’s never been a doubt that I am an American.  In the fall of 1969, my parents headed back state-side; 6 month old me in tow.

Flash forward to the 80’s, approaching my 18th birthday and my mother sharing with me her recollection that I may be eligible to apply for dual German citizenship if I chose, by virtue of my place of birth.  Interesting as it sounded to be something as cosmopolitan as a dual citizen, I knew I had no ties to Germany whatsoever.  I knew little of the culture only some of the history, and having chosen French in high school, I certainly didn’t speak the language.  I am through and through an American and opted to remain so.  It’s the only country I’ve ever known.

This week as I stood on the campus of College of the Canyons in support of Dreamers, children afforded protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order instituted by President Obama in 2012, I could feel the fear and anxiety of the many students present, but afraid to speak, as their future is now uncertain.  While President Trump’s intent in rescinding the DACA order very well may be to ensure a permanent legislative solution for these young people, they now face an uncertain future.  A future in which they could be removed to their country of birth, a country they’ve never known, to a culture and language that may be as foreign to them as German would have been to me.

Of the 800,000 DACA recipients nationwide, over 220,000 live in California and it is estimated that over 73,000 attend public colleges and universities in the state, the majority of those, some 60,000 students attend community colleges. (EdSource 9/1/17) What is at stake for these hard-working young people is significant. Those attending college could face loss of residency status if the matter is not addressed within the six-month expiration period, making college fees and tuition out of reach for most.  Additionally, their jobs may be at risk.

Survey results indicate that nationwide 97% of DACA recipients are employed and or enrolled in school.  Of those who have completed their course of study, 54% have moved on to jobs that pay more and match their qualifications, 5% started their own business. Further, 72% of the top 25 Fortune 500 Companies employ DACA recipients. (Center for American Progress 8/28/17)  To argue that these young people aren’t an integral and essential part of our economy doesn’t hold water.  They were brought here by optimistic parents to pursue the American dream and under DACA they were living up to that promise.  Fortunately, the California Legislature has stepped up to the plate to fill in the gaps with proposals for funding for education costs and legal aid while they await the federal outcome. (SB 119, AB 134, Sacramento Bee 9/13/17)

What we are left grappling with then is nothing new, the realization that we have a broken immigration system.  We know this.  We know we have vastly different partisan approaches to solving this ongoing crisis, yet the road we pursue to remedy it, or worse further in-action, will define who we are as a country for decades to come.  I hope we can all agree that as Americans, who pride ourselves on fairness, we must strive to create an immigration system that is easy to understand, affordable, allows a wide path of entry for those fleeing political, religious, or gender persecution, and is backed by appropriately funded agencies and enforcement resources.  We must do all of this while reminding ourselves that immigration isn’t merely political and economic, it’s humanitarian.  I remain cautiously optimistic that the issue has reached a tipping point with the lives of these 800,000 young people in the balance and that Congress will rise to the challenge they have been presented.

My intent in writing this piece was not to provide fodder for the comment mill which will undoubtedly light up upon publication, but to start a dialogue in this community about what it means to be an immigrant, first generation, second, or many times removed.   For some of us, we must listen to these stories, while acknowledging what it means to have grown up with the privilege of being born American, and the rights and obligations to a diverse and free nation that implies.  We must strive to a better and deeper understanding of the facts and the myths surrounding immigration. Undoubtedly, we will understand so much more by recounting personal stories, first hand experiences with our immigration system, good and bad, past, present, and hopes for the future.  I implore civil discourse, and remind the reader that at some point in every family’s history there was a dreamer.

Christy Smith is a Santa Clarita resident who is running for the 38th Assembly District seat.

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Christy Smith: Time to hear what Dreamers have to say

Christy Smith, a candidate for California's 38th District Assembly, speaks to constituents and donors during a campaign appearance. Samie Gebers/The Signal

I was born in Wurzburg, Germany.  My birth certificate(s) are a mish mash of documents in German and English and include a “souvenir” birth certificate courtesy of the U.S. Army, along with a hand-written receipt for the $7.50 my parents paid to take me home from the U.S. Army hospital where I was born.  Born of two U.S. citizens, my father an enlisted man at the time, there’s never been a doubt that I am an American.  In the fall of 1969, my parents headed back state-side; 6 month old me in tow.

Flash forward to the 80’s, approaching my 18th birthday and my mother sharing with me her recollection that I may be eligible to apply for dual German citizenship if I chose, by virtue of my place of birth.  Interesting as it sounded to be something as cosmopolitan as a dual citizen, I knew I had no ties to Germany whatsoever.  I knew little of the culture only some of the history, and having chosen French in high school, I certainly didn’t speak the language.  I am through and through an American and opted to remain so.  It’s the only country I’ve ever known.

This week as I stood on the campus of College of the Canyons in support of Dreamers, children afforded protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order instituted by President Obama in 2012, I could feel the fear and anxiety of the many students present, but afraid to speak, as their future is now uncertain.  While President Trump’s intent in rescinding the DACA order very well may be to ensure a permanent legislative solution for these young people, they now face an uncertain future.  A future in which they could be removed to their country of birth, a country they’ve never known, to a culture and language that may be as foreign to them as German would have been to me.

Of the 800,000 DACA recipients nationwide, over 220,000 live in California and it is estimated that over 73,000 attend public colleges and universities in the state, the majority of those, some 60,000 students attend community colleges. (EdSource 9/1/17) What is at stake for these hard-working young people is significant. Those attending college could face loss of residency status if the matter is not addressed within the six-month expiration period, making college fees and tuition out of reach for most.  Additionally, their jobs may be at risk.

Survey results indicate that nationwide 97% of DACA recipients are employed and or enrolled in school.  Of those who have completed their course of study, 54% have moved on to jobs that pay more and match their qualifications, 5% started their own business. Further, 72% of the top 25 Fortune 500 Companies employ DACA recipients. (Center for American Progress 8/28/17)  To argue that these young people aren’t an integral and essential part of our economy doesn’t hold water.  They were brought here by optimistic parents to pursue the American dream and under DACA they were living up to that promise.  Fortunately, the California Legislature has stepped up to the plate to fill in the gaps with proposals for funding for education costs and legal aid while they await the federal outcome. (SB 119, AB 134, Sacramento Bee 9/13/17)

What we are left grappling with then is nothing new, the realization that we have a broken immigration system.  We know this.  We know we have vastly different partisan approaches to solving this ongoing crisis, yet the road we pursue to remedy it, or worse further in-action, will define who we are as a country for decades to come.  I hope we can all agree that as Americans, who pride ourselves on fairness, we must strive to create an immigration system that is easy to understand, affordable, allows a wide path of entry for those fleeing political, religious, or gender persecution, and is backed by appropriately funded agencies and enforcement resources.  We must do all of this while reminding ourselves that immigration isn’t merely political and economic, it’s humanitarian.  I remain cautiously optimistic that the issue has reached a tipping point with the lives of these 800,000 young people in the balance and that Congress will rise to the challenge they have been presented.

My intent in writing this piece was not to provide fodder for the comment mill which will undoubtedly light up upon publication, but to start a dialogue in this community about what it means to be an immigrant, first generation, second, or many times removed.   For some of us, we must listen to these stories, while acknowledging what it means to have grown up with the privilege of being born American, and the rights and obligations to a diverse and free nation that implies.  We must strive to a better and deeper understanding of the facts and the myths surrounding immigration. Undoubtedly, we will understand so much more by recounting personal stories, first hand experiences with our immigration system, good and bad, past, present, and hopes for the future.  I implore civil discourse, and remind the reader that at some point in every family’s history there was a dreamer.

Christy Smith is a Santa Clarita resident who is running for the 38th Assembly District seat.

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  • tasam1

    The immigration system isn’t broken. The immigration laws were ignored for 30 years allowing a rush of illegal aliens into the US with many them smuggling children into the US.

    The current number of DACAs in the program is 800,000 but could grow to 5
    million with more illegal alien adult (“kids” 18 years or older)
    reaching the age to enter the deferred deportation program.
    DACAs and
    pro-immigration groups have made it clear that they want US citizens to
    demand that amnesty and US citizenship for the 11-20 million illegal
    aliens in the US. Another additional 20 million would include chain
    immigration – relatives outside the US that would have US citizenship
    given to them.
    No on amnesty and work permits. The deferred time ended Sept 5.

    • Mira Michaels

      Your right! the immigration system isn’t broken. It just wasn’t designed for people entering the country in the trunk of a car.

  • Anthony Breznican

    An important quality to leadership is being a moral leader. It’s clear to me from following Christy Smith’s writings that she cares deeply for this community, and her work on the school board and as a candidate shows that. This is another example: Practical empathy. Respect for the law, and a desire to allow immigrants to follow it on a path to citizenship.

    • tasam1

      These are illegal aliens that should be deported. Anything less invites more illegal aliens. What about the discussions of how many people can the city support in relation to housing, water, infrastructure. Since she is running for the assembly – ask the same questions on a statewide basis.
      One source on jobs and DACAs comments that two-thirds of the DACAs are in low paying jobs. How many US citizens are having trouble making ends meet. More competition for jobs with the addition of more illegal aliens seems to leave voters unprotected. Her comment that she can now be a Germany citizen is not the same as entering a country illegally. What are her votes on the school board? Very liberal? – very conservative?- line them up and defend the votes.

      • Anthony Breznican

        Yeah, history is full of people who hate immigrants. They all have one thing in common: they descended from immigrants. You’re just waving the 2017 version of a “No Irish Need Apply” sign.

        • Mira Michaels

          When the Irish came they didn’t cost the taxpayers billions.

          • Anthony Breznican

            Uh huh. You sound a lot like the anti-Irish, anti-Catholic Native American Party from the mid-1800s (who later earned the nickname the “Know Nothing” party. They hated Irish and German immigrants because they claimed they increased welfare.

            From History.com:

            “The refugees seeking haven in America were poor and disease-ridden. They threatened to take jobs away from Americans and strain welfare budgets. They practiced an alien religion and pledged allegiance to a foreign leader. They were bringing with them crime. They were accused of being rapists. And, worst of all, these undesirables were Irish.”

            http://www.history.com/news/when-america-despised-the-irish-the-19th-centurys-refugee-crisis

            It should give you pause to realize you a part of a racist tradition.

          • Brian Richards

            Why do you hate America and Americans Anthony? Do you know what the penalty for illegally entering Mexico is? Is that country full of racists? Any country worth it’s salt protects it’s borders. Those that don’t are doomed, as this country apparently is because of people like you.

          • Anthony Breznican

            This is too stupid to respond to in any serious way. Have a nice day! Let me know when you want to talk like a grown-up.

          • Brian Richards

            Those questions too tough for you huh?

          • Anthony Breznican

            Yeah, that’s it. You’re a genius.

            In truth, weren’t you the one last week whining about how “America deserves to be destroyed”? And now you’re telling me *I* hate America? Whatever. I’m not diving into the cesspool of your thought process.

          • Brian Richards

            Do you respect the rule of law? No! Most Americans do. Do you think the American taxpayer should fund those that break the law? Yes! Most Americans do not. Do you favor a nation that it is sovereign and that has borders? No! Most Americans do. Do you think lower income Americans should make more money but can’t because there are 20 million illegals holding wages down? No you don’t while most Americans do. Do you believe the executive of this country can waive his pen and grant blanket amnesty to hundreds of thousands skipping the legislative branch? Yes you do, but most Americans don’t. In short we are doomed because so many feel as you do. We are no longer a nation that respect laws or sound economic policy. Our debt is unsustainable and will only lead to the further erosion, if not outright collapse of the dollar. You’re a globalist who embraces anti-American rhetoric and behavior and you have no respect for those that came before us and gave us so much. You’re very typical of your generation. No run along and go author another whinefest column on someone on the school board that offended your delicate sensibilities. It must be exhausting to be perpetually offended.

        • Brian Baker

          LOL!

          Tasam’s “respect for the law” magically turns into your “people who hate immigrants”.

          You can’t even debate on the actual merits of an argument. Like all Leftists, you immediately resort to obfuscation, misdirection, and demonization of your opponent. That clearly illustrates a complete lack of intellectual ability and rigor.

    • Gil Mertz

      A moral leader follows the law and the Constitution. They don’t work around it with “deferred action” through executive orders.

  • Mira Michaels

    The costs of illegal immigration:

    *The cost of educating illegal aliens children is staggering. From K-12 it costs taxpayers $122,000 for EACH illegal alien. That is not even
    counting the FREE school lunches every day for 13 years.
    *2012 illegal aliens sent home $62 BILLION in remittances back to their countries of origin. This is why Mexico is getting involved in our
    politics.
    *30% percent of all Federal Prison inmates are illegal aliens. Does not include local jails and State Prisons. At 21,000 per year expense per inmate in Federal Prison—do the math.
    * Using the Obama created program- DACA, 800,000 illegal aliens has funneled 800 THOUSAND jobs away from American Citizens.
    *$17 Billion dollars a year is spent for education for the American-born children of illegal aliens, known as anchor babies.
    *$3Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate illegal aliens, I repeat 3 MILLION a DAY to process Illegals in the Criminal justice system.
    *$2.2Billion dollars a year is spent on food assistance programs such as SNAP (food stamps),WIC, & free school lunches for illegal aliens.

    What I find most interestingis the all out BLITZ by the Democrats, MSM, every faculty member at any university in the country are fighting to the death for illegal aliens?many don’t even wonder why? can you imagine the Democrats ever being this interested in issues involving
    citizens! There is an estimated 800,000 DACA recipients in the US.That is 800,000 jobs American Citizens don’t have. The MSM and Democrats would have you believe that all 800 thousand are not taking jobs Americans want (we’ve heard that lie for many years). This is another falsehood told to the American people (like the lie there just ‘Kids”) there not all picking strawberries they take good Jobs. Good enough jobs to buy homes,put their kids through college Why must the citizens have competition for jobs, education in their own country from foreign nationals? Now Democrats and illegal alien activists admit DACA recipients have great jobs,are buying homes, paying taxes. The GOAL (Democrats just haven’t figured this out yet) is for the American citizens to be employed, sending their kids to college, buying homes and paying taxes. It’s not the responsibility of the citizens of this country to support, educate citizens from other country’s.Deportation will save jobs and decrease the expense of illegal aliens.

    • lois eisenberg

      The almighty dollar takes first place over being humane, compassionate, having empathy,
      having sympathy and having a moral obligation to those in need.
      “There for the Grace of God go You”

      • Mira Michaels

        How many billions of dollars for how many years do the American people have to pay before they meet your standard of humane? stop imposing your moral, religious beliefs on others.

  • Gil Mertz

    “””A future in which they could be removed to their country of birth, a country they’ve never known, to a culture and language that may be as foreign to them as German would have been to me.”””

    This same argument could be made for Syrian refugees. Instead of creating safe zones in their own countries, we pluck them out of their country of birth to a country they’ve never known and into a culture and language that is foreign to them. Can’t have it both way, guys.

  • Brian Baker

    The usual leftist dogma from Smith, yet another illustration of why I’d never consider voting for her under any circumstances.

    If a kid’s parents rob a bank and are later captured, do the kids get to keep the money? Well, this is the same deal.

    On top of that, Smith mentions the college tuition aid these illegal aliens get, on the taxpayer’s dime. That’s like the bank robbers’ kids getting a bonus after getting to keep the stolen money.

    No way.

  • Gary Bierend

    Christy Smith: Time to hear what Dreamers have to say

    Why?