When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people". -Donald Trump
The political climate right now is a scary one for several reasons, but one of them is the comments made about immigrants from people that don't know them. I know these people. I am the daughter of immigrants and have worked with the immigrant population for the last 8 years in Chelsea. When you hear from a major political candidate negative things about Mexican-Americans with a side of "some, I assume, are good people" you get this distorted look of what an immigrant community is like. Let me tell you who are the people Mexico is "sending".
At B-SAFE San Lucas in Chelsea, a majority of the children are either immigrants themselves or the children of immigrants. The majority of them come from Mexican families. Over the course of the last 8 years, I have been able to know these families, but most of all these children that have grown up in the program. They are the children of parents working multiple jobs to make ends meet. They are the children of parents that use their low wage paying jobs as a reminder to their children of the importance of education. They remind their children constantly of the great sacrifices that they have made. They truly believe in the American Dream that many of us US-born citizens believe is dead. They are open with their children about the reasons they came here, many times to escape great crime warlord cities or to give their children a chance to survive. They teach their children daily about the being grateful for all the opportunities that they are given in this great land of ours and to show their gratitude by serving their communities and paying it forward. This is an ideology that I have only seen in the immigrant community.
How this translates to their kids is amazing. I have always seen it this way, but more this summer than ever before. The theme of this summer was to "create our future". And what a bright future we have because of these children. At the closing ceremony they read their essays on the future that they see ahead of them. Many spoke about serving their communities as entrepreneurs, teachers, doctors, veterinarians, and even presidents. They talked about how they want these jobs to make their communities great. There were also essays about what the future of this country would be like in 10 years and they hope to see. While some of the essays were about advancements in technology like flying cars and robots, even those essays had altruistic reasons to them like flying cars because "there would be less pollution and less traffic to make people not be angry when going to work" or robots because "they would walk around and help the homeless people and animals". Their future was about seeing more farms in communities, people clothing the homeless, caring for the forgotten elderly, volunteering at animal shelters and everyone having a pet because "having a pet makes people happy". These are not words from a politician. This is the future that Mexican-American children want for us. This is how we "make America great again".
I invite anyone that has negative thoughts about immigrants to B-SAFE Chelsea. You will hear from these children some positive ways to "make America great again". You will see love. You will see hopes and dreams that are very much alive. You will see teenagers that grew up in the program spending their summers volunteering in the program that gave so much to them. You will see parents that care for their children. You will see their tired but excited and proud faces as they pick up their children after work. You will see that more than just "some, I assume, are good people". You will see that most actually are good people who want to create a bright future for all.
By Mauryn Perkins, Site Director at St. Luke's
Mauryn Perkins has been with the B-SAFE program in Chelsea for 8 summers. During the school year she is a 7th grade Spanish teacher at a charter school in Malden. She loves teaching children. She loves organizing things, especially planning and organizing her binder for trips to Disney for her family.