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Jose Luis Zelaya

Jose Luis Zelaya

Jose Luis Zelaya is running for student body president at Texas A&M. He’s also an “illegal immigrant”. Here’s his story.

Zelaya first started working in the streets in Honduras at age 7, washing car windows and begging on buses. His mother left for the U.S. when he was 13, unable to take the beatings from his father, he said. At 14, he set out to find his mother and his little sister in the U.S. The journey took 45 days and ended in a one-room apartment in Houston his mother shared with several other families.

“People told me I couldn’t graduate from high school, that I couldn’t go to college,” he said.

Zelaya earned a bachelor’s degree from A&M in December and led the invocation at the graduation ceremony. He aspires to teach, but can’t because of his immigration status. He enrolled in January as a graduate student at A&M seeking a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, specializing in English as a Second Language.

He ultimately did not win the election, but that’s not important. I’m just curious here. What exactly is the public policy rationale for kicking a guy like that out of the country, instead of helping him become a citizen and reaping the benefits of his talent and work ethic? I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have made my way from Honduras to the US by myself at the age of 14. Yeah, sure, he cut ahead of some people in line. I say that’s more a problem for us to fix than for him to be punished for, but whatever. Fine him some appropriate amount, make him do some community service (I’m going to step out on a limb here and guess that he’s already doing that), have him write 100 times “I will not cross international borders without having all my papers in order”, etc etc etc. But seriously, isn’t Jose Luis Zelaya the kind of person we want in this country?