An Open Letter to President Barack Obama from Alene Mathurin
Dear President Obama,
Fourteen years ago, I left the shores of a beautiful southern Caribbean island, St Lucia and landed in New York on a cool fall night. My material possessions were very little: a suitcase at its very sight, cried out its age; however deep in my soul, I carried with me a vision- what you and your people call, the American dream. I heard prior to my arrival in the United States, a quote by Oprah Winfrey that, “America was the best place to be a woman”, and so I wanted to experience this; I wanted to understand what she meant; I wanted to be the best woman I could possibly be, and the shores and skylines of America seemed to tell me that perhaps, it was possible to fulfil the dreams I had in America.
President Obama, as I pen this letter to you, I write with a deep understanding of the plight of the undocumented immigrants in the United States. I was one of them not too long ago. I know what it feels like to go out in the blistery weather and work hard, even undocumented; to survive in the United States, but to be robbed of every penny by a greedy employer, who used my fear of being undocumented to rob me of my sweat. How a man can rob another, I would often ask. When his sweat has dripped down his face, when the moral anchor which I hold on to, the sweet words of the Holy Scripture, the words of Moses, in the book of Genesis said “by the sweat of thy face, you will eat bread”. Where was my bread? As I scribble these words with tears running down my face, I know that there are many undocumented immigrants, who have toiled in the open fields and worked like mules; and many who have scrubbed the floor of homes or cradled crying children to their bosoms, to be comforted, and yet, have their sweats robbed. Did not the wise Solomon instruct us in Proverbs to “not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate?”
My dear President, the gate are the borders entering the United States, where my brothers and sisters die often on the journey, just to taste the sweetness of the American dream. They are often afflicted by the ill-hearted on that journey into the United States and many continue to see great affliction while being here; the land of the free and the home of brave! I write to applaud you on the many steps that you have taken even amidst great opposition to help the undocumented have a pathway to citizenship. It’s only great leaders like you, who realize that there’s a commonality in all humans, which is to satisfy their hunger to achieve a better life; to ultimately survive. It was this hunger that caused me to leave my family, all that I had and knew of; my culture that was buried in my loins, to attempt to make the United States home; where I could satisfy the hunger I had, to get an education and ultimately to give back to my country and the United States of America.
What would have happened, Mr. President, if the Israelites were barred from entering the promise land, a land that their God, had promised them? Would they not die of hunger and thirst in the desert? What would have happened if they did not answer that innate call, to tarry on, even amidst prodigious struggles, to get to the Promise Land? Mr. President, every great milestone that has been achieved in every generation, is when a people hear a call and answers to the voice of the universe, who ushers that call. It’s that call that many immigrants hear and answer daily. Though, I know that our great land is a land based on rules and order and every citizen must abide by them, even the voiceless undocumented immigrants, I commend your efforts in to creating a model that would allow those not abiding by the immigration rules, a chance to be a free rule abiding people.
Though I understand clearly the legitimate concerns of those opposing your plan, to allow undocumented immigrants the path to citizenship, we must remember the many families that have been torn apart; children that have been pulled from the grasp of their crying parents; a sight that no man with a heart should see, a sight that I’m sure you are aware of; a sight that history will judge us on; a sight that your humane proposal may help cast a shadow or curtain on. It’s those sights as a former undocumented immigrant, a mother and individual who believes that we are each other’s keeper, that have prompted me to pen this letter to you. My hope is that it will fuel your God given heart, and cause you to perhaps listen to the voice which has spoken to you, about this very matter. To help a vulnerable people, our brothers and sisters, who we all are connected to, through the love of God himself who I believe will judge us all, especially you Mr. President. For you are not lacking in power, your voice is not weak, your audience great and you can impact positive change for many, especially, those without a voice; the downtrodden: the hungry and the hopeless.
Mr. President, today I am an American, a student at a leading university in New Jersey, a mother, a small business owner and an individual who is eager to give back to a society that has given me so much. I will forever be indebted to this great nation, to its people, that are so full of compassion- people that are like no other on earth and to a great leader like you. When the nights fall, and there’s stillness in the air, as you reflect on your day, I urge you to never let that enthusiasm and determination that you have for immigration reform in this country to depart from your heart. I implore you to remember those whose knees have darkened, as they pray to their God for the nation to show them mercy and allow them a chance to be free in America. I urge you to remember women like me, who once heard that America was in fact, the best place to be a woman, and now can truly attest to this on a personal basis. For if your voice becomes silent, your ears deafen or your loving heart becomes hardened about the plight of undocumented immigrants, many a people will suffer; children will grow up without the love and hugs of their parents and history itself will judge you, and us harshly, and ultimately the creator will judge us all. May God continue to have mercy and compassion on you, and may God bless America, the land of the free and the home of the brave.