Ask a Mexican

Immigrants Are People Too

Dear Mexican: How do we humanize the illegals in this country? I've been in this country illegally for 16 years, y ya chole no? For 16 years I lived my life like anyone else: going to school and working. Eventually I became a teacher for the public schools. It is too long to explain how I did all this. I knew it would come to an end at some point. Well, it has, and now I am a nanny to my best friend's kid. We were talking one day and decided that if anything were to happen, if I were arrested or in trouble for some reason she may be the one to be judged as a bad mother for leaving her child with a criminal such as myself. I am no criminal. I was brought here when I was 14 years old, so I had no choice. The only wrong I've done is run across with the rest of mi gente. So how do we share this with the rest of the world so that they see that we mojados are people with feelings, families, friends, ideas and ambitions? Tu Paisa Jarocha

Dear Chica from Veracruz: Easy — by telling your story and that of people like ustedes to the rest of America until you're azul in the face. By calling your local politicians, from school board members to Barack Obama. And, finally, by telling everyone to no longer refer to undocumented folks as "illegals" — unless it's a satirist with a point, of course!

You've poked fun at the guardians of Cervantes before, so I just had to write to you now that I've finished reading the 1962 Walter Starkie translation of Don Quixote. Since I had very little trouble understanding it, I'm guessing that Starkie modernized the Spanish in addition to translating it. Have you read Don Quixote in the original Spanish, by chance? If so, would you say that the Renaissance-era Spanish is as difficult for Spanish speakers as Shakespeare is for English speakers? Also, is Cervantes required reading for Mexican high school kids? Gabacha Que Lee

Dear Gabacha: Cervantes in the original español is a chingadera to read, what with all those damn medial s locuras and forays into Old Castilian when the Man of the Mancha speaks, but it's far more palatable than reading a bunch of "anons," you know? Starkie's translation is fine, but más mejor is Edith Grossman's version. And, finalmente, Don Quixote is not required reading for Mexi prepa kids, but Condorito sure is.