I feel for these folks.
But after 15 years with very little work, and 5 years with absolutely zero work, I also feel for the American citizens, born and raised who are being thrown under the bus as they grow older and have high paying jobs that can be forced to train their replacements, among other things.
Quesada eventually learned English and attended the University of South Florida in Tampa, studying physics. He started teaching, eventually ending up in a military school during the Vietnam War, helping prepare troops to fight the same communism overseas he fled in Cuba. After getting his engineering graduate degree, he went to work for the Department of the Navy and was stationed in Bermuda, helping the Navy track submarines during the Cold War. Eventually, he ended up in Panama City, working at the Navy base to train SEAL teams on the latest equipment and teaching at Gulf Coast State College.
“I wanted to do something to further the cause that I embraced,” Quesada said. “I had added incentive. I told them, ‘Go get ‘em!’”
Six years after his arrival, Quesada’s family was finally able to join him, though they, too, lost everything when they fled. Lacking the required licenses to start an orthodontic practice in the U.S., Quesada’s father went back to school in his 60s and eventually was able to rebuild a practice.
Though he was sponsored by the State Department as a political refugee and had a relatively easy time with the immigration system, Quesada said he has a distaste for how the current immigration discourse is framed, particularly when the idea of merit is involved, and having to earn a spot in the country. At 15 years old, with no marketable skills and rudimentary English, Quesada said he would have been sent back to Cuba if his entry had been down to so-called merit, but he was able to make something of himself and contribute to the framework of America.
“Let’s face it, some people get the merit while they’re here,” he said. “I didn’t have any degrees. I got the merit while I was here, and look at all the contributions I made.”