Irvine Valley College administrators recently sent a letter reassuring students they will be protected despite the Trump administration's removal of President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order.
That brought a reply from a man who describes himself as a 30-year-old student who was three months old when he was brought across the U.S.-Mexico border.
But Aldo D. Gastelum has a much different take on DACA than other young immigrants routinely featured in the media.
Then again, unlike undocumented people who had no choice when, as children, they were brought to this country by their parents, Gastelum writes that he went on to become a military veteran and "proud U.S. citizen." And he states that he believes the Trump administration's DACA decision has nothing to do with politics but rather national security.
To put Gastelum's letter in context, first you should read what set him off:
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Here is Gastelum's reply, which he allowed the Weekly to share with readers:
Dear Mr. Jamal and Ms. Fitzsimmons:
While I appreciate the effort to reach out to me as a student, I am disheartened by what appears to be another attempt from this educational organization to mislead and deliberately politicize to further promote a certain political agenda. I am not only a student, I am an immigrant and a veteran. I was brought to the United States through Mexico at 3 months old. I am now 30 years old. Even though I chose to serve over 11 years in our military, I just received my citizenship earlier this year. I am now a proud US citizen. During my service I fought and watched my friends die for the protection of this country, its ideals, its freedoms, its people, its constitution and its sovereignty. I can assure you immigration is not a political issue it is at its heart, an issue of safety, protection of our nation’s people, their livelihoods and sovereignty for our nation and its citizens.
Once again, your letter to students attempts to “shape” the information in order to create some kind of negative response and while revealing a very biased political agenda. DACA, was never a law but simply a presidential executive order that contradicted the current immigration laws set by Congress. Former President Obama publicly stated it was an attempt at a “temporary stop gap” for what congress failed to define as law during his tenure. DACA was never meant to be a permanent solution. Recently, Senator Diane Feinstein said DACA was on shaky legal ground and Congress needed to act. President Trump simply put congress on notice that they need to define the issue and find an appropriate permanent solution, thus creating a law. Everyone including former President Obama knew this had to be done in order to have any sort of long term solution, but they avoided it in fear of being mislabeled a bigot or uncompassionate.
President Obama and his congress had the first two years of his presidency completely unencumbered but avoided addressing any immigration reform at all even though they had the complete ability to do so. At some point weather it was President Trump or some other president, the courts would have forced DACA to be defined through a proper legal process defined by Congress. There were two pending legal claims in the courts that would have forced this issue sooner than later so something had to be done. This time period can now allow for proper, calm consideration and execution by the appropriate governing bodies. President Trump in an additional statement said if Congress couldn’t get it resolved in 6 months he would revisit the issue.
Immigration is an issue that every country faces. People want to come to this country more than any other country in the world because of our ideals, values, opportunities and protections. I’m not a constitution scholar but I’m pretty confident the “constitutional rights” you mention you want to “uphold” do not apply to non-citizens. The “rights” we have as citizens of this country as in any country are by definition quite different then non-citizens. Simply put the same constitution does not apply to non-citizens, that is the whole point to becoming a citizen. If you didn’t have to be a citizen to enjoy the same constitutional rights and protections, what is the value of citizenship? How can we expect anyone including current citizens to respect and value our nation if there is no respect or requirement for citizenship? I understood this and respected this as a non-citizen, brought here as an infant without choice. I understood this as someone who travels and knows every country has a right and a duty to its citizens to protect its people and its sovereignty. Never in the history of this country or any other country has there been a wide open, undefined immigration policy. That would be the death of any nation. You don’t have a nation without borders, laws or requirements for citizenship.
What did I and my friends fight and die for? You wouldn’t be able to properly protect the people of the United States or their livelihoods? There has always been a defined systematic approach to immigration. It may have changed over the years and will continually need to be updated to match the development and population of our nation. However, we all learned in elementary school civics, if you don’t like a law it is the Congress not the President that has to write the law to change it. It is our duty to contact our lawmakers to voice our opinion if we want to be herd. Why would you make it seem like anyone trying to better define immigration in order to provide clarity, safety, protection and sovereignty to this nation and its citizens is a bad person? If we are not a nation of laws, requiring all citizens and potential citizens to honor and follow our laws, not just the ones they like, than what are we? As an immigrant brought here as an infant, I respected the laws and the requirements of this nation, not just the ones I like, as is my duty in any nation especially one where I wanted to become a citizen.
Every time I traveled to other nations as part of my service I can assure you those nations had immigration policies that were defined, enforced and demanded respect. Right now DACA is waiting to be defined into some form of a law from a Presidential Order that’s it. Why create panic and conflict when there doesn’t need to be? There are a lot of people effected positively and negatively by immigration, there will never be an all-inclusive, utopian, make everybody everywhere happy policy, by any President ever. We have to lay our personal biases and viewpoints aside and have healthy debates free of slanderous personal attacks and demagoguery. We should keep these discussions focused on just the facts and what is reasonably doable. Ask ourselves, what are the policies that can be implemented, and will protect our citizens and permit our nation to thrive, allowing this nation to remain a beacon of hope and an example of Freedom. If you want a law made or changed call your law makers and vote. Those are the privileges and freedoms I and my fellow brothers signed up to protect.
I come to school to be educated and to think for myself, not to have an educational institution try to indoctrinate me into a certain way of viewing the world. That is not what an educational institution is supposed to do, especially one that takes public dollars. It is a shocking opportunistic way to take advantage of young impressionable minds. I find it saddening. I hope that in the future you will refrain from interjecting personal views or opinions into public issues. You could always provide the links to the White house press conference, the Attorney General announcement or President Trump’s address on the DACA issue and let students form their own opinions. The ability to have freedom of thought and opinion is something I did fight for and would so again. I don’t expect everyone to agree with my viewpoint. You however are an institution accepting public dollars and are supposed to be neutral, respecting all viewpoints and simply encouraging and teaching students to think for themselves.
I come to campus every day to learn in an open positive environment. With each passing day it becomes harder. Letters like the one you sent don’t contribute to the solution they become part of the problem. I would welcome a chance to speak with you and share my experiences if it helps to achieve a more constructive environment for everyone. That is what school should be, a forum to learn, debate, disagree or agree, evolve and grow in a positive challenging way.
Thank you in advance for your valued time and consideration. I appreciate the opportunity to share my concerns.
Aldo D. Gastelum
The LinkedIn page of an Aldo Gastelum of Newport Beach states that he studying to become a computer science engineer.