Commentary: My dad was from El Salvador and my brother works for ICE. I loathe it but I love him.
We live in the most divisive political times in modern history. Both sides of the aisle view their own countrymen and women as irredeemable because of who they voted for. With the holidays coming around, many of you are fearing uncomfortable conversations that will present themselves with family members with conflicting political views. Mine is no different. I’m the son of an El Salvadorian immigrant and the brother to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer who vehemently supports President Donald Trump. I, on the other hand, am an independent who believes Trump’s narcissism endangers American democracy and is detrimental to our nation’s values. I am sure you are wondering how do two boys who grew up in the same household with the same parents have such conflicting views?
At the age of 5, our father immigrated from El Salvador in 1960 with a suitcase and the clothes on his back. His father earned a visa by working as an accountant for a cigarette company that did business in the United States and Latin America. His immigration story is much different than the stories in the media: no coyotes, no caravan and no arduous journey. He would go on living a fairly common American childhood in San Francisco during the 1960s and 1970s, eventually joining the U.S. Air Force during the final years of the Vietnam War. After he came 比特币交易网home, he met my mother and my older brother from a previous marriage. My parents would date for many years until finally getting married in 1987, a year before I was born.
Growing up my brother, and I bonded over sports, video games and movies. As life moved on, he would join the Army and fight in Iraq while I would stay 比特币交易网home choosing a civilian’s life. When he came back, we would both attend San Diego State University, both graduating with degrees in economics in the same year. Afterward, we entered the competitive world of finance that he would eventually leave to pursue a career joining ICE.
His choice did cause a strain, but we worked through it. We’ve argued, hung up the phone on each other, and called each other nasty names, but in the end, we’ve always apologized. When he first got hired by ICE, I didn’t know what to think. It reminded me a lot of when he was in Iraq fighting a war that I felt was built on a lie. I learned then that though I did not support the war, I would always support my brother.
But I disapproved of ICE’s family-separation policy and the conditions of the facilities throughout the border. Families coming from war-torn countries looking for an opportunity deserve the right to file for amnesty. I disagree with this current administration’s demonization of all immigrants as criminals. Trump is well aware of the racist dog whistles he blows to ignite White fear that has shaped many pearl-clutching opinions that are only expressed behind closed doors. I have told my brother all of this.
I’m not disappointed in my brother working for ICE, but I would be lying if I told you that it made me proud. That may sound harsh, but I still love him and I am still extremely proud of the man he’s become. When he first took the job, I told him, “Treat those people with respect, never forget they are human, and as long as you can look yourself in the mirror knowing you did the right thing, that’s all that matters.”
Over a decade ago, we both saw our father die from medical complications in a hospital bed and that experience made our bond stronger. In our lives, we only get one family and those days where we stay mad at each other are truly days wasted.
My family doesn’t shy away from difficult conversations, we invite them and I would suggest your family do the same. My brother and I took different paths and view the world differently, but none of that disenfranchises our characters. This political climate has both major political parties painting this current schism as good versus evil and us versus them, but the world is far more shades of gray than simply black and white. Instead of falling back into our echo chambers, it’s time to move forward and reach across the table to find compromise in civil discourse knowing that even when we passionately disagree, love, family and friendship will be the common ground that allows society to move forward.
Vasquez is an analyst for an energy company and lives in La Mesa.
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