Kenyan Illegal Immigrants’ Children: Almost Safe, but Again, Not Really!

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One great quality of Kenyans is their ability to deny reality! It is a strength that has sustained us as a people in all our historical developments and culture. Driving to the Rift Valley, one way is to drive through Naivasha. As you go down from 8,500 ft through Kinungi on the upper road, you begin to see Lake Naivasha. Since the road was built over 30 years ago, I have seen the lake shrink and it is continuing to disappear into the history books. Even with this evidence, people still believe that lake Naivasha is still as grorious as it was! Not affected by the flower farms surrounding it. That is the Kenyan spirit! Deny reality and non-reality will become reality. Again, tribalism is a myth . . we are Kenyans first! Ha!

 

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The same spirit of blind optimism is evidenced by the fact that we continue to deny that their are many children in the United States who are illegal. The children came with their parents at an early age. Given the hospitable nature of American immigration law, the children enjoy the kindergarten and high school education without fear or concern. Their parents take loans to buy houses, and Nissan Sentras, and of course 200” TV sets. The children look up to their parents with innocent trust that their parents are not jeopardizing their future through any illegality. The American Dream . . DREAM on!
 
After high school, the teenagers apply for college and they are asked to produce a social security number. The children go home and ask their parents, “Dad (or Mom), what is a social security number? The college wants it for me to register”. Then as if they were back home in Kenya, the parents make a fire outside (but on the backyard deck since they are in America) and take their now “Kenyan-American” children symbolically back to Kenya in a typical storytelling way. “Son, we did not apply for the social security number because, you did not need it.” the parents explain. “So can we apply for it now”? The smart teen requests. “No, no , no … I don’t know. You see, your mother and I are illegal and we were hoping for immigration amnesty”. “What. . . Dad. . . why, what happened”. The son enquires “Well, son. Even the President has had family members from Kenya who were illegal!. . Nothing new!”. Dad says. “Man, . . not fair, Dad!”, the son says as he walks away into depression.
 
These kinds of experiences are real and they are not just for Kenyan immigrants but for all illegal immigrants in this Great Republic. It is here that Marco Rubio, the Senator from Florida and I merge. He is proposing that the children of illegal immigrants, be allowed to become legal permanently. President Obama, who is a Kenyan-American proposes a temporary non-deportation overlooking of the Immigration Law, whereas Senator Rubio’s idea includes legally qualifying illegal children for F1 visas without them having to go back to their parents’ homeland. His argument is, the children just followed their parents from the native country. Children are divinely set to grow within a family. And even within civil law, parents are responsible for their children’s growth and development. Thus when Kenyan parents put their children on a plane and land them in Hartsford, Connecticut, the children are innocent. They are being responsive to the natural order, Divine institution. That means even though the law declares them illegal, they are, within the above principle, innocent.
 
Marco Rubio’s suggested registration, not policy, should be embraced by Kenyan immigrants as a positive step towards rescuing thousands of Kenyan children who are stuck in an illegality that is of their parents’ making. Why any parent would bring a child from Kenya to America without a proper plan of the child’s future is beyond belief. But it happens every day. I am not arguing against Kenyan immigration to the United States. If an adult wants to come here and live under cover, that is his or her choice. I am questioning the logic of parents bringing children here without a strategic plan to guarantee that these childcare’s future includes a legal and permanent (not just temporary overlooking of the law) path to success. Against popular misconception, United States immigration law does provide ways in which people can live here legally. But it is useless if our people deny this reality and opt for a quick fix, instead of a path within legal immigration. 

By Teddy Njoroge Kamau, PhD, SYR/Radio/TV, Director: International Desk.

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