Dear Governor Deval Patrick,

My name is Carla Gualdron. I am 18 years old and a freshman at Emerson College in Boston where I’ve lived my whole life. I would like to start by complementing you on the upkeep of our state. Sadly, this letter isn’t all compliments. My motive for writing this letter is to express my concerns over an issue that has affected me and thousands of other people in this country: immigration. Immigration reform is a topic that is constantly put on the table for debate. This just goes to show how it’s a pressing issue that needs to be addressed promptly. I strongly urge you, and all governors in the United States, to sign proposed immigration bills.

I want to share with you the story of my uncle, Juan Gualdron. My uncle came to this country over twenty years ago in search of a better life than the one he had in Colombia. While working at various restaurants, he established himself as a talented chef. My uncle was always there when I needed him. He picked me up from school when I was sick, changed my diapers when I was a baby and took me to all the restaurants where he worked. He was more of a father figure to me than my real father. Although my uncle was married to an American citizen for a while, they divorced, and he was unable to obtain citizenship. For years he tried to appeal his case but the judge finally closed it. In August of 2008 he received a letter of deportation. My uncle was willing to leave the country but two weeks prior to his departure he was hospitalized and found out that he needed surgery on his colon. For this reason, my uncle did not leave the country because he was awaiting his surgery date.

On January 12, 2009 my father opens his convenience store at 8:00 am as he does every morning. A Hindu man walks in and buys a newspaper. Then, he walks around the entire store, looking for nothing in particular, and walks out. My father found this peculiar so he eyes the man as he walks down the street. He sees that the man stopped in front of a gray SUV where three other men jump out.

Immediately, the clan walks over and barges into my father’s store. One of them stops and asks my father for his name. The other men make their way to the back of store. My dad notices the man questioning him has a picture of my uncle in his hand. Suddenly, my father realizes that the moment my family has been dreading finally arrived. My uncle Juan, who was putting away merchandise in the back room is now presented to my father in handcuffs. Infuriated, my father asks them why they don’t arrest the people who are selling drugs on the corner of his store, or someone who has committed a real crime. The INS officers hand my father my uncle’s belongings and just like that, they take him away. My uncle Juan left his girlfriend Marleni, and his two daughters, seven year old Natalie and two year old Valerie. They are left to wonder what will happen to him.

There are thousands of undocumented immigrants in this country with similar stories. In fact, there is an estimated twelve million undocumented immigrants residing in the United States. Each year another 300,000 are added to this number. This staggering number reflects the amount of people who are affected by today’s current law. This number is also a wakeup call that current laws are outdated. We are in desperate need of reform.

I feel that today’s immigration laws are especially unfair to undocumented working immigrants with families. Yes, I understand they entered illegally. I know it’s not America’s responsibility to take in every immigrant. But if we make the citizenship process shorter and less tedious, people will make the effort to enter this country legally. I recently saw questions on the citizenship test and as a college student who has studied in American schools

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