The Theft of Life

Posted on September 7, 2011


By Elvira Arellano
Congressman Gutierrez advises us that President Obama has agreed finally to use his executive powers to stop at least some of the deportations. It appears that dream act eligble students will not be deported. It appears that those who have U.S. citizen children and who meet other requirements may also be able to avoid deportation whlle we all wait for the U.S. to finally fix their broken immigration system. Congressman Gutierrez has warned us to wait and see what the new policies will really cover and to beware of lawyers and notarios selling us false information. This isnot an amnesty!
While we wait, millions keep on working, contributing both to the economy of the united States and, often sending money back to Mexico and Central America so that family members can survive. It is a hard life and few of the powerful seem to recognize the value and the humanity of these milllions of working men and women – and their children.
We should be watching President Obama carefully to how his new found compassion plays out. We certainly have the right to be skeptical – not only on the issue of immigration but on the issue of health care for millions who live outside the citizenship of the united States, but yet provide their labor to it. We recall with some bitterness when president Obama announced loudly that his new health Care Reform would not give any help to “illegals.” We were shocked at his change in language from “undocumented (before the election) and “illegal: after he was in office. But we should have been more concerned with what the President was saying about health care for millions of our people.
In New York, the “death gap” between middle class whites and Africnan Americans and Latinos is 12 years. In Chicago it is 20 years! That means that if you are African American or Latino in New York you will likely live 12 years less than a white person – 20 if you live in Chicago. The reason for this “death gap” is that we don’t get health care which allows for early detectin of diseases like diabetes, hypertension, breast cancer and HIV/AIDS. If you know about these diseases early enough, you can be treated – and you will live longer.
Ofcourse these statistics are probably even worse for the undocumented and their families. They work. They have no insurance. When they get sick they are just thrown away.
We kow what it means when a father or a mother is ripped from our families by deportation. Nobody cae about the families that are left behind. No one cares that the family loses its home and the little cash by which they were surviving.
The same thing happens when a father or a mother dies from illness. Yet these early deaths are preventable is we screened for early detection and got even minimal treatment and instruction to change our diets and lifestyles.
While the struggle goes on about immigration reform, millions of people are having years tolen from their lives and the lives of their families. It may be a long time before the U.S. – or even Mexico – responds to the health needs of migrants, but I join with Familia Latina Unida in calling for the community to organize to provide these early detection screening tests to our families and our children, screening for Diabetes, Breast Cancer, Hypertension and HIV/AIDS – and providing the diet and lifestyle information that will help people survive these diseases.
If you steal my car or my t.v. you can be forgiven. If you steal 15 or 20 years of my life, you will have to be judged by God. Our community should not stand by and let this theft of life go on.

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