Dulce Matuz started a new life as an undocumented American in Arizona when she was 15 years old. She was a star student, participated on the robotics team in high school and got into the engineering program at Arizona State University. In 2006, Arizona passed Proposition 300, which stripped undocumented students of in-state tuition for school and forced a lot of undocumented students to drop out of school. Dulce had a choice: self-deport or stay and fight. She chose the latter. Dulce co-founded the Arizona Dream Act Coalition to fight for immigrant rights while Arizona was in the process of enacting some of the nation’s strictest anti-immigration laws. Maria Hinojosa recently met up with Matuz in Phoenix to talk about what’s happening with Arizona politics around immigration today, five years after Arizona passed its controversial “show me your papers law,” SB 1070.
Photo by Marlon Bishop/Latino USA
One thought on “Arizona Dreamers Five Years Later”
I’m usually not awake early enough on Saturday morning to listen to WAMU at 6 am, but recent oral surgery and follow-on medication have altered my sleep patterns.
I found the Latino USA program stimulating in me various philosophical musings about immigration. In one sense, we could consider the British Plymouth and Roanoke settlements to be, from the viewpoint of America’s original inhabitants, to be uninvited immigrants. In fact, those early settlements turned out to be, in effect, the first step of an invasion that ultimately conquered and took the land away from its original inhabitants and completely altered the culture of the land. In the West, the earlier Spaniard conquistadors were more clearly invaders. While the English sent settlers intent on living in the New World, the Spanish were more interested in extracting gold and in converting the natives to Catholicism. Historically, today’s Mexicans are largely descendants of the original natives, and their cultural traditions reflects that. While I don’t share their view, I can understand why some Americans think of the rapid growth of the Latino population in the US as an invasion, particularly as the Mexican government seems to encourage the exodus.
When Sephardic Jewish American Emma Lazarus wrote her poem for the Statue of Liberty, the US, still expanding westward, had open immigration, although it soon enacted the Chinese Exclusion Act stimulated by the large number of Chinese laborers brought over to build the western part of the transcontinental railroad. What became labeled as the “Yellow Peril” was the fear that the huge Asian population willing to work for very low wages could eventually take over and destroy western civilization, replacing it with their ways of life and values. Already I have observed construction sites that have become dominated by latino workers. (Seasonal agricultural work has long been exclusively latino. I recall a TV documentary showing inexperienced workers sent to a farmer by a state unemployment office were unable to compete with experienced teams of Mexicans.) To a great extent, I suspect anti-Latino immigration has a similar basis, although mostly the sentiment is expressed as against illegal (undocumented is often assumed to be illegal) immigration which is seen as a criminal act and one that can include actual criminal gang members and potentially even foreign terrorists.
Talented Dulce Matuz is obviously someone whom the US should welcome, regardless of how she got here. But even though I am generally liberal minded, I have to admit I am uncomfortable with people near me loudly conversing in Spanish, as it excludes me from the conversation, and I have proven to have no ability to learn foreign languages.