Below is an excerpt from Paul’s personal testimony that he shared with Rep. Don Bacon:
As an economics major, I am taught to analyze everything in terms of incentives, opportunity costs, supply, demand, among a plethora of other technical terms. So when I tell you that my story would not have been possible if it had not been for the actions of an undocumented immigrant, I have to point out that he was incentivized to come here because of the economic opportunity presented by the railroad in the 1920’s. He weighed his opportunity costs, and took the chance to come here, as he believed it to be in his best interest. But that is where the economic aspect stops. The fiscal world that is fascinating yet heartless, is put aside so that I can include that this undocumented immigrant was fleeing violence instigated by civil unrest and revolution along with the economic destitution that is part of conflicts of this nature.
This undocumented immigrant, who would have been considered a consumer by a 20th century economist, is known to me as my great grandfather. When he arrived in the United States, he found a home in South Omaha on 10th street, right next to the railroad tracks. There he and his wife Guadalupe raised seventeen children while watching over many of the other kids in the neighborhood and feeding the homeless who would arrive off the trains as they rolled by the Romero house. Whenever I hear my grandfather talk about his parents, it seems that he is always mentioning their generosity and capacity for empathy. Much of these attributes are reflected in their seventeen children.
Whenever my rusted seventeen year-old Chevy Malibu starts acting up, my grandfather is the first one to offer to help. When my sister wrecked that same Chevy Malibu while learning how to drive, my grandfather paid the costs of the damages. Whenever someone’s birthday is coming up, it is my grandfather who organizes and pays for dinner. My economist side asks, “but why does he do this”? Financially it makes no sense to spend thousands of dollars, simply for the sake of others. According to Adam Smith we are all supposed to pursue our own self interest!
But then I remember that there is a world outside the technicalities and fiscal terminology. Labels like consumer, producer, immigrant, citizen never tell the entire story. As a Catholic, and more importantly as a human being, I believe that each and every one of us is deserving of dignity. To be treated as more than just a label, an object or an alien.
As you reflect on the story I’ve told today, I hope that you will discern that it is not all that different from the stories of those fleeing the violence and economic destitution of contemporary Mexico, many of whom live right here in Congressional District 2. And it is my hope 100 years from now, millions of Hispanic-American children whose grandparents were DACA youth, migrant workers and any other form of undocumented immigrants, will be able to tell this same story, about how the chance taken by one brave individual is the reason for the success and opportunities that they have been able to enjoy.
Everyday I am thankful for the chance my great grandfather took in coming to this country. His story is one that is not alien, but rather overwhelmingly human to its very core. It is my hope that as you are voting this session, you will keep in mind those fleeing violence and poverty, many of whom call Congressional District 2, their home.
“The legislative visit that I was able to be apart of with Representative Don Bacon was an experience that was both valuable and reassuring. I appreciated Representative Bacon’s willingness to listen and to discuss some of the issues facing our district. He was open, kind and honest. Now, it is my hope that Representative Bacon will now channel those words into action.”
Sophomore Class of 2019
Political Science and Economics Majors
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