Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Supporting DACA

My latest post on Medium: Why Supporting DACA is the Right Thing to Do

After I wrote it, I was fortunate enough to have a former student named Dat, a 24-year-old Vietnamese American young man, write his own take. Although Dat was born in the United States, his parents weren't and he is closer in age and relationships to many of the young adults who will be affected by this. Here is what he has to say:

I support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy because it presents an opportunity for kids without homes to grow up with a chance. Most immigrant kids have come to the U.S with their parents in search of a better life away from the impoverished country they once came from. DACA individuals are law-abiding citizens, illustrating their commitment and determination to stay in the U.S. To have DACA rescinded is detrimental because these are individuals with no home back in their native countries. They came at an incredibly young age to lay a foundation and build a life here in the U.S. There is no reason to repeal this policy because DACA recipients work, pay their taxes, pay their dues, and have no criminal record.

All anyone ever wants is an opportunity to flourish in an environment that allows them to do so and to have their own kids to grow with that same opportunity.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Letters from Prison

I wouldn't have imagined a couple of years ago, but I am looking forward to the letters I get from prison several times a month. If you've read my book, Chapter 10 is about "Jorge," my former student. If you haven't read it, it's cheap on Kindle right now and you can learn all about Jorge. Skip to Chapter 10; he's worth it.

Anyway, he is a very very special young man who, in a nutshell, had every single thing go wrong in his life that could and (read the chapter!) he's now in prison for 19 years. I've gotten letters from San Quentin, Mule Creek, and Corcoran prisons. I've been to visit Mule Creek State Prison twice, and I'd prefer to never go to a prison again, but that's where he is. And as I told my students many years ago, they'd always be "my kids."

Jorge is working on his life story. When he read my book, he said that he was surprised that there were people in the world who didn't know how hard life is for people like him. he wants to tell them. So this kid, who stopped attending school regularly after 5th grade, is going to write his life story. And I am going to get it published, no matter what.

We're also thinking about publishing either his letters to me (I have them all) or our total correspondence (not sure if he has all mine, however). I think that would also shed a lot of light on many of our prisoners and what led them there.

So, if you have ideas or leads or connections, please do let me know. Otherwise, stay tuned, as someday you'll be hearing from him.

(To answer the inevitable questions: 1. Yes, I have his permission to publish this photo, and 2. Yes, a criminal attorney told me that inmates in California have a constitutional right to publish their writing without retribution. But I'm still using a pseudonym for him)