Dionisia Olmos, 33, owner of a mortgage company, has joined the Waukesha County GOP. Her father immigrated illegally to Chicago where he worked at a golf course, taking his 12 children with him. Unable to support his family, he sent the younger ones, including Olmos, back to Mexico with their mother, where they lived without running water or electricity.
In 1986, her father gained amnesty under the law that Sensenbrenner vows never to repeat. Olmos was in Mexico and did not qualify. But at age 15 she married a man in the United States and decided to return.
"Mexico is a wonderful country," she said, "but you can't survive on what they pay you. I had a lot of things I needed to do. I'm a very hardworking lady, and I really needed to do my dream."
She said she crossed the border in 1988 at least five times, and was turned back each time by the same Border Patrol officer on horseback. She wore a Chicago Cubs jacket, and the guide told her to close her eyes so the flashlights wouldn't pick them up. She would open them each time to see the officer sitting on his horse looking at her. He kept telling her she would never get to Chicago and to give up.
After the fifth time, it became a joke, and he gave her his card. She told him she would call him from Chicago. She finally succeeded. "It was really, really hard," she remembered, crossing the Rio Grande in a raft at night.
Her brother discovered Waukesha in the Army. She joined him and worked in a factory. Eventually she wound up as a bank teller. She met [Don] Taylor, the county GOP chairman, and his son at their bank, and later they recruited her for the party, convincing her that her values matched those of Republicans. The younger Taylor gave her the bank loan to start her business, which now has four branches and 22 loan officers.
Olmos wanted to work inside the party to change the minds of Republicans who oppose immigrants like her who came illegally. But now she expresses doubts.
She feels intimidated at meetings, especially when talk began about a mailing for Sensenbrenner.
"I thought, 'what am I doing here?' " Olmos said. "They're supporting this law, they're supporting Sensenbrenner. They think people should come here legally. But I ask them, how can they come here legally? Tell me."
Olmos, the mother of three teenagers, finally got her green card in 2001 through her brother. She soon will be eligible for citizenship and wants to vote.
She said she wishes Sensenbrenner "would become Mexican for a day. I wish he would exchange nationalities with me. I challenge him to do that, and I'll take him back to Mexico and have him cross the border with me, and see if he can do it."
It was suggested that the chairman of the Judiciary Committee would not want to break the law.
Olmos replied, "He would do it if he's poor. If he sees his family doesn't even have a glass of clean water. He would do it if he knows that his family goes to bed hungry and has nothing else to eat. If he had nothing in his pocket, I think he would do it. He would break the law."
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
'I wish he would become Mexican for a day'
This from a San Francisco Chronicle profile on Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner and his role in the debate over immigration:
Posted by xoff at 11:05 AM