This is the biggest dilemma our country is facing today: What should be done with those individuals (men and women, old and young) that crossed and are crossing our international boundaries without the legal documentation that would allow them to enter and reside in the United States of America?
It is not too difficult to understand the concern and disgust of many natural born American citizens watching the avalanche of foreign national jumping over those territorial borders in violation of the current immigration laws. As an immigrant and now a naturalized American citizen I believe I can add my two cents to this volatile subject.
Today’s most common question: who is legal and who’s illegal? That call of “documented” and/or “undocumented” is nothing else but the result of the semantic games played by some news media reporters and politicians depending on their philosophical ideology; but there should not be any doubt about the real definition of the residential status of those foreign nationals.
I reached for my Merriam Webster Dictionary; legal means: one that conforms to the rules or the law, while illegal is defined as something or somebody not according to or authorized by law. Furthermore, the next line on the same page of my dictionary states: illegal (n) (1939): an illegal immigrant.
In December of 1961 I realized there was nothing I personally could do to change the onslaught of communism taking over the country of my birth. To keep my sanity and life I had only one alternative: get to the United States, any way … I could easily take off in my small sailboat (as many it did before me) heading to any of the many Florida Keys and become another “wetback” but I didn’t do that. I followed the rules requesting a Visa “waiver” from the United States authorities that would allow me to legitimately enter the American territory as a political refugee.
I can assure you that it certainly was not an easy process by any stretch of the imagination. Besides the American “visa” I needed to gather all of the numerous documents requested by the communist regime that would allow me to be included in the long list of those waiting to leave the island of “change” and “hope.” It took me over six months to get everything together!
That was particularly challenging and very risky to me as a previous supporter of the revolution against the Batista’s dictatorship. I was newly categorized as a “gusano” (worm) and I can attest that it was the most anguished and terrifying times of my life in knowing that the G-2 (Cuban Gestapo) could knock at my door and take me away, because I was already considered an enemy of the state.
Thanks to God I “legally” landed in Miami, Florida, on June 4, 1962.