Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Man of Mexico, A Man of the United States: An Interview

Language Professor Jordi Villasante graciously agreed to answer some questions about his experiences as a Mexican American who holds dual citizenship.  

Jordi, thank you for agreeing to this brief interview.  As you know, I've been advocating for immigrants, particularly Hispanic immigrants, here in Northern Virginia where a contentious debate over immigration has yielded negative effects within our communities. I'm interested in hearing about your experiences as a Mexican American living in the northern part of the United States.  So let's get started.

Where were you born?
Mexico City / Mexico D.F.

You are a citizen of both the U.S. and Mexico.  How did that happen? 
Yes, I am a naturalized U.S. citizen and recently, proudly reclaimed my Mexican citizenship.

Do you think dual citizenship compromises your loyalty to the U.S.?  Why or why not?
No, it enhances my love and loyalty for both countries.

Has there ever been a time you felt discriminated against in the U.S. or Mexico for your ethnicity?
Yes, in both places. Because I don't look like a typical Mexican, it was only after some people found out I was Mexican that they discriminated. It was in school and nobody knew or thought I was Mexican at first, but then some kids from California moved to the area. Of course, there are plenty of Mexicans in California, and they heard my name and asked where I was from. One day, our class was cutting through another class and the lights were off because they were watching a movie and an ignorant American kid yelled, "Mexican!" as an insult. I was really angry, and the teacher in the classroom we were cutting through did nothing about it. However, I must say, that the grand majority of people I've dealt with, have not discriminated.

In Mexico, I have been called a "rich white boy" because some people who live outside Mexico City are jealous of defeƱos (people from Mexico D.F.).

Have you ever witnessed discrimination against Hispanics in the U.S. and Americans in  Mexico?  If so, what happened?
Yes, and to my face as well: not knowing that I am Mexican, some Americans belittle and discriminate against those "no-good Latinos," as they call us. In Mexico, there is more resentment toward the U.S. government and not so much toward American citizens.

Why do you think discrimination against Hispanic immigrants in the U.S. is so prevalent right now? 
People are afraid of the unknown. It's really ignorance and fear, as in most cases of discrimination.

How do you view the current crisis with immigration, and what are your suggestions for rectifying the situation?
The U.S. government knows about illegals and turns a blind eye due to cheap labor. If they regulated immigration and had more guest-worker programs, I think it would tremendously help the situation. Of course, to do this, the U.S. government would have to  respect certain rights for the workers and pay them a fair wage.

What is your educational and professional background?
I have a B.A. in Modern Languages and Political Science and an M.Ed.  I have studied in Mexico, the United States, Austria and Germany.

Thank you, Jordi. Your perspective is valuable, and perhaps we can dialog more about this in the future.
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