The current immigration crisis in the United States has left many Americans with unanswered questions regarding the impact illegal immigration has on our national economy and how our leaders plan to adequately address this growing problem. Widespread confusion has led to cultural unrest that has proliferated throughout our schools, businesses and communities.
I was born an American. However, I would not be here today if not for my immigrant grandparents. My paternal grandmother, Josefina Diaz, was born in Chihuahua, Mexico in the 1920s. She trekked nearly a thousand miles to come to the United States in search of a better life for herself and our family. My mother’s family also immigrated from Ireland and Demark in search of opportunity.
After my parents split, my siblings and I moved into a battered women’s shelter before moving into alternate government housing where we would spend the remainder of our childhood. Government handouts and welfare programs became a way of life until I took charge of my own life and sought emancipation at just fifteen years old. My faith and my country taught me that if I was willing to work hard I could accomplish anything I sought out to achieve.
After working my first job at Wienerschnitzel, I pursued a career in fashion working my way up the ranks at Victoria’s Secret; ultimately managing the launch of their new fragrance product line. An entrepreneur at heart, I left the fashion industry to pursue other business opportunities. After more than one failure, I invented a product of my own–Foot Petals– inspired by a childhood injury from accidentally stepping on hot coals at the beach. After years of hard work, Foot Petals became a multi-million dollar company. .
I could not have achieved this kind of success if not for the opportunities this country has provided.
When we address America’s immigration problem we have to remember what every immigrant is seeking – that same opportunity. That’s why my grandmother Josefina came to America seeking a better life.
In recent weeks, Americans watched the immigration crisis worsen. Thousands of immigrants seeking opportunity, including women and children, were aimlessly transported between Texas and California turning our immigration and border security system entirely upside down. The Federal government was completely unprepared.
Now more than ever, our decision makers must harness the opportunity to engage the public on how our nation will adopt solutions to the problems arising from illegal immigration. Our leaders must implement policies that provide effective border security, safe entry for lawful immigrants, and a functioning temporary worker program. When Americans become victims of violence, health hazards, and corruption because of a failed immigration system, the time has come for our government to act. Our immigration laws, and the enforcement of them, must incentivize lawful decision-making, and attract productive members of society through work or education visas. Most of all, we must ensure that America never faces the threat of a terrorist who attempts to gain entry through our Southern borders with the intent to do harm.
This past year, I worked with a team of talented writers, actors, producers and a young director to create a film that sheds light on a few real challenges of our immigration system. The film, Frontera, underscores some of the glaring facts of America’s failed immigration policies through a bold and captivating storyline. Our collaborative efforts tell a difficult love story while educating the public and raising awareness about America’s serious immigration problems.
Frontera is a stark reminder that a majority of those traveling to this country are families looking for work and a better way of life. Until our broken immigration system is significantly overhauled and properly managed, those seeking the American Dream, and those who already have it, will continue to face unnecessary and often dangerous conditions along our Southern border.
While illegal immigration leaves families on both sides of the border in crisis, Washington continues to sidestep the responsibility of developing meaningful reforms. Without a doubt the United States was built on the successes of immigrants, but as times change, our government’s approach has become inadequate. We hope to educate the American public about the real challenges along our U.S.-Mexican border and encourage our elected leaders to come together and provide real solutions.
Tina Aldatz, a native Californian from a Mexican-American immigrant family, is an entrepreneur, Founder of Foot Petals, and CEO of Savvy Traveler.