Sunday, February 21, 2016

Political Socialization Assignment

Warning: this post will be longer and more boring than usual. Brace yourselves, yo. Seriously though, it's not boring, its a discussion for my Poli Sci course on political socialization. I wanted to stay boring and academic but one topic in particular touched me to the core so I wrote what I knew. Here's the assignment, in its entirety, for you to read:

My political socialization experience began around the age of ten. Until that time, I heard things about the governor, president, politics and the legislative process in passing but I was too young to understand how government and politics affected my life. My family was most prominent in that process and my friends were secondary. After that, I learned from reading news articles or books but typically, I made decisive opinions quickly based on what I heard from others.

As an example, a painful personal experience influenced my views on immigration law. As a child, I knew my mother came to this country illegally; she settled in this country, married, had children and lived peacefully until immigration deported her in 1996. Law enforcement detained my mother in Lew Sterrett jail and we visited her once a week or so until they sent her back to Mexico. Legally, she could not be deported because she was married to an American and her four children were American; however, she couldn’t be released either. My mother, out of options, signed a document of “voluntary deportation”. I knew my mother had no choice in the matter so to me the choice of terminology was like a slap in the face. When your choices are to remain detained in jail indefinitely or leave the country, the answer seems obvious. It was on that day that I finally understood the expression, “Between a rock and a hard place.”

Some people ask, “If you really want to come here, why not use the proper channels?” Well, my mom and dad tried the proper channels (before he was diagnosed with Huntington’s disorder). They did everything in their power, to their knowledge, and still made no progress in adjusting my mother’s legal status. The process seems straightforward and clear but my parents were not able to maneuver around the “red tape”. At some point, I imagine my parents grew frustrated and gave up; I imagine money was also an issue. The facts are that the legal process can be intimidating, confusing, frustrating and expensive for many people; even if they want to do the right thing, their circumstances may give them no other choice but to circumvent the law.

As a child, I never had opinions regarding law or politics, but as I grew up, I listened to friends and family and formed opinions about privacy, states’ rights, individual/civil liberties and criminal law. I read books that my friends recommended or researched activists and leaders they admired. I imagine my views on certain policies and laws will never change for that reason.

Legalization of marijuana is a topic I would like to discuss in earnest. First, I don’t believe that recreational marijuana use should be legalized because it conflicts with my strict religious views, however, I have also seen the painful effects that harsh drug laws has had on people. In uncertain terms, not everyone arrested with marijuana or paraphernalia is a threat to society and it seems that far too often drug charges hurt these people in other ways. I understand that medicinal marijuana has made a strong case for legislation but I also believe there should be legislation that decriminalizes recreational marijuana use to a point.

Personally, I do not feel that my views adhere to a particular group membership because my views are varied across the spectrum, but, more objectively, a close analysis of my public opinion on many topics more closely reflects liberal group membership.

P. S. My mother eventually came back, illegally. I was in the fifth grade, my siblings much younger than me, when she left and an entire summer passed without my mother until she returned home. We'd almost started the new school year when she returned and she looked completely changed. She was dark, like a chocolate-complexioned Black woman, her cousin permed her hair so she had an thick, bushy, black afro and she was emaciated. Later, I learned what my mother had to endure to return home and, to this day, it moves me to tears to know the sacrifices and risks she took to see us again. While she was gone, we were under the care of friends, teachers and neighbors who helped us dodge CPS, school authorities and housing authorities. I'm sure many of these people had conflicting views on immigration law but they helped us anyway. The women who cared for us sold their belongings: jewelry and any valuables in order to raise money for mom's legal fees; they helped us pay the rent so we didn't lose our apartment and, most importantly, they loved us like their own offspring and gave us hope. Unfortunately an acquaintance took the funds, about $3000, and we never saw her again. Sometimes I drive by her neighborhood and look around wondering if I will see her once again. 

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