Jose and his wife Alicia lived in a white clapboard house on a dusty caliche road about a quarter mile from my grandparents. Nobody knew how they'd gotten across the U.S.-Mexican border or how long they'd been here. Jose just turned up one morning looking for work and Papa, a cotton sharecropper, helped him get a green card and set him to work as a field hand. I was only five, but he let me tag along on the farm and caught cottontailed bunny rabbits and gave them to me as presents.

As we celebrate our values and the freedoms allowed us as U.S. citizens, it is incumbent upon us to be aware of the people around us who, like Jose, desperately want the same rights and to become "real" Americans. As a fourth-generation Texan and someone who spent her 20s in Los Angeles, I've long been familiar with the problem of illegal immigration. For those of us who have lived in the southwestern border states, it's an issue we deal with daily.

Over the last few years, the issue has gained more and more national exposure, with the conversation reaching a crescendo this week with President Obama's announcement to seek $2 billion to respond to the flood of immigrants, mostly women and children, at our borders. The surge began in 2011, but reached a crisis point earlier this year, with 70,500 children expected to be detained at the border, nearly double the amount from 2013.

Some believe the problem is so great no level of funding can stem the influx. A border patrol agent, who was responsible for looking for any type of contraband crossing into the U.S. illegally (including narcotics, weapons, terrorists, illegal aliens and cartel personnel involved in human trafficking and human smuggling), told me, "I ...

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