Stories

Creating a Place for Conversation

August 3, 2017

By Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

Attorney at law Dulce Garcia grew up in the United States unaware that she was undocumented until her parents explained why she could not get a summer job or a driver’s license like the rest of her high school friends.

Because of her having to overcome obstacles due to her immigration status, Garcia’s views toward immigration and border issues are different than Robert Maupin, a rancher and border neighbor, who considers himself a vigilante and stops individuals from crossing the border through his property.

On Wednesday, August 2, both individuals came together, along with two others, to share their stories during a community discussion presented by the San Diego Union Tribune, “Real Stories by Real People: San Diegans Affected by Immigration and Border Issues,” at the University of San Diego.

Garcia was told to picture that she was a rancher who lived next to the border and to explain how she would feel if people were crossing through her property to get into the U.S. She admitted that she too would be upset but she would consider who are the people crossing over.

“I can imagine myself leaving water bottles all around,” Garcia said. “There are bad things, and yes bad people come across, but there are also desperate people, people looking for opportunities, people looking for a safe heaven.”

Terence Shigg, President of the National Border Patrol Council, Jose Gonzalez, a former farmworker who received amnesty in the 80s, Maupin, and Garcia made up the panel.

Attorney with Procopio Law Firm and former City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, and Edward Orendain, immigration law attorney and president of the Border Angels Board of Directors, moderated the event.

The panelists were asked several questions regarding their stories, background, and opinions on immigration and border policies, as well as, questions from the audience.

Shigg said the greatest misconception about Border Patrol agents is that they are typically labeled with stereotypes and they are looked at as the robot arm of the government.

“It’s not understood that our guys are human and that this job does take a toll on you,” Shigg said. “Some of the things that we see and experience not only affect us but affect our families.”

Shigg said that while he has a love for the border, he always feels on guard due to what he’s experienced at the border.

For Gonzalez, the biggest thing that individuals do not understand is that it is not easy to put your life on the line to cross the border for a better life.

The panelists shared what they learned from the experience after they heard each other’s stories and noted that although they had differences they shared common ground.

Gonzalez said that immigration issues are like an argument in a marriage, if you do not talk with love then you will not understand and that by screaming at each other you do not make yourself heard.

Shiggs said events like the community discussion can help with finding solutions for border and immigration issues.

The San Diego Union Tribune will continue to host community discussions in the upcoming months.

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