Ofelia Valdez is a Woman of Great Courage


It takes a lot of courage to come out of the shadows and confront Ted Cruz or Steve King over our nation’s heartless view toward immigrants.

Which is why every young Hispanic should rally around Ofelia Valdez, 30, whom Cruz told last week that he would deport if elected President next November.

King, the congressman representing northwest Iowa, stood by Cruz’s side as the senator from Texas described how even children brought here by undocumented parents from Mexico 16 years ago must be shipped south of the border — or the wall, as it were.

Each of them relished it.

The King’s Pointe Hotel lobby in Storm Lake, Iowa, was filled with old, white King and Cruz faithful.

From the back of the crowd comes a question from a dark, young woman.

Cruz looked so presidential, so constitutional, so in command, depending on your glasses.

One conservative blog called him “masterful” in his response.

It first took courage for Valdez to sign up for the deferred action program crafted by the Obama Administration that allows the children of undocumented immigrants temporary residency until the current occupant of the White House leaves next January. It was like putting a label on your forehead: Come and deport me once my safe stay expires.

Once Cruz takes office, Valdez’s name pops to the top of the list of deportees.

She is a graduate of Storm Lake High School. She earned a degree at Buena Vista University in human resources and business while working at a local used car lot for years. She became human resources manager at Faith Hope and Charity, the group home for profoundly disabled children. She serves on the St. Mary’s Catholic Church Finance Council.

And the day Obama leaves, Storm Lake could lose her and hundreds, if not thousands, of others who work hard and volunteer in our lovely, diverse town.

She was not a paid plant by the Democrats, as many alleged.

Valdez was driving home from work and thought she would ask about Dreamers like herself, children of immigrants who really don’t know Mexico or Latin America.

“It was like a spur of the moment thing,” Valdez told me. She had spoken before with King about immigration, so she thought she would try out Cruz.

Her question was: How will you deport an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants?

Cruz did not answer that question. He went into a dissertation on why Valdez was illegal. That’s because he doesn’t know how to find and deport millions of illegals from Ireland to Ecuador.

“Their stand on immigration is so unrealistic,” Valdez said. “Okay, fine, you want to deport us. Then bring a plan that makes sense. Something that is realistic. How are you going to do it? He couldn’t answer.”

Valdez did not say she is afraid. But she did say she is unsettled. She said it is hard to make any plans when your work permit is good for only two years.

She meets with a support group of anonymous friends, children of undocumented immigrants like her. They attend college, private and public. They know nothing of Mexico, and want to stay in Storm Lake. She estimates there are 20 to 25 who regularly meet to share stories and support each other.

“You listen to their stories and you want to give everything you have to them. They want to be police officers or social workers or teachers. They want to be someone. They want to be here,” she said.

Valdez worked 70-plus hours per week paying her own way through BVU. She said she received a private scholarship but could receive no government financial aid because of her status in legal limbo.

“We’re not asking for any handouts,” she said.

She has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC News and every blog site from extreme left to extreme right.

She knows full well that she has “illegal immigrant” emblazoned across her forehead now. She does not know where all of this will lead her. She knows that someone could come and grab her at any time.

Until then, she is standing up for the 677,000 young people who live in the netherworld of having no place to plant your flag.

That’s what it takes for freedom to win. It took Rosa Parks back in the day to sit in the right seat.

Today, it takes a humble Ofelia Valdez to show us the right path to follow.

It’s called the path to citizenship. That’s all these Dreamers want. They want to be American. Every young Latino should thank Ofelia Valdez for the courage to stand and say proudly who she is.

Art Cullen is editor of The Storm Lake (Iowa) Times, where this appeared, and managing editor of The Progressive Populist.

From The Progressive Populist, February 15, 2016


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