Opinion: Some call immigrants names; I think of Chichi

Published 1:00 am Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Criminals, rapists, animals. Those are names immigrants coming to the United States are called, but all I know is a woman with a heart of gold, my grandmother.

In August of 2010, Edilia Rodriguez earned her citizenship, but it was long before then that she was taking care of American people.

She worked 12 years with the Red Cross, helping people all over Alabama, but even then she did not forget about where she came from.

When Pope John Paul II came to Venezuela in 1985, my grandmother spent nine months making arrangements for the papal visit. One of her biggest challenges came when funding fell through for a trip to Disney World that she organized for 18 Venezuelan children that were diagnosed with cancer.

She raised more than $30,000 in less than a week to help pay for the kids’ trip to Disney World. She did the only thing that she knew how to do. Pray. Within days of her plea, a man sent a check for $13,000 for the trip, and another man provided condominiums for the children. She received almost triple the amount of money she needed.

She came to the United States from Venezuela in 1993 to take care of me and my sister because my mother was alone, trying to provide for her family, and needed as much help as she could get. Ever since I could remember, everything that my grandmother did was for other people.

Since today is the Fourth of July, I can’t help but think about how the only thing that “Chichi” has ever done for herself was getting her citizenship.

It gives me inspiration to help the people who are seeking asylum from poverty-stricken countries.

Right now, Venezuela is in the most detrimental situation it has ever been in.

People in Venezuela don’t have any food to eat, no water to drink, and no warm bed to sleep in, but all we care about is not letting anybody in our country while the people of Venezuela are literally running out of their country to Columbia and Brazil because they are scared for their lives.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s travel ban – his third one – which bans travel to the United States from seven countries, including Venezuela. With half of my family still living there I am honestly scared. What will they do? How can they survive in an economy where they can only make $6 a month?

I honestly believe that my grandmother did the right thing by coming here, going through the process of becoming a citizen the right way and working to help others. But if we don’t give people a chance then how will this situation get any better?


Christopher Smith is a reporter for The Star-News. He can be reached at christopher.smith@andalusiastarnews.com.