As summer continues its slow, languorous march towards the Fourth of July, America suddenly--and rather improbably--has reason to celebrate. Yesterday morning, the Supreme Court voted to uphold the constitutionality of President Obama's health care reform, temporarily restoring our faith in humanity, if not our government institutions. For a certain class of people, however, civic victory arrived approximately two weeks ago when the president exercised his own legal authority to allow more than 800,000 illegal immigrants who have grown up in the United States to live and work in the country without fear of deportation.
Although I was born in Brooklyn and raised on the (less than) mean streets of Westchester County, their triumph felt like my own. By proxy, at least. Six years ago, my then-girlfriend immigrated to New York from Buenos Aires to live with me, but also to look for work. Several months later, we married and began the long process of naturalization--both tortuous and torturous in equal measure. While it’s unlikely she would have benefitted from Obama’s executive action, she is no stranger to the paranoia that comes with living, however temporarily, on an expired visa. Now more than a year removed from becoming a full-fledged citizen, her relationship with the United States, as well as her decision to leave her native Argentina, remain no less fraught, her employment prospects just as slim.