Editor in Chief
On April 10, just six days before Senate bill 744 (immigration reform) was introduced, professor of sociology Dr. Gonzalo Santos became a U.S. citizen. The timing of Santos’s citizenship is no coincidence; according to Santos, “So long as millions of immigrants were locked out of any path to legalization subject to persecution I stood in solidarity with them and did not want to exercise the privilege until all were given the opportunity.”
“Only [once the reform bill passed] did I feel morally obligated [to become a citizen],” said Santos. Santos was born in Tampico, Mexico and remained in Mexico through his undergraduate collegiate studies.
Eventually, he came to the U.S. where he received his Ph.D in sociology from Binghamton University in New York.
After completing his education, Santos made the decision to begin his teaching career at CSUB based on the large population of Latino, first-generation students. During his time at CSUB, Santos has taught courses in a variety of sociological issues including race and ethnic relations, modern world system, contemporary global issues, Latino experiences in the U.S., Latin American experience and indigenous experience.
According to Santos, he wanted to play a significant role in the lives of first-generation college students from farm-working backgrounds.
Immediately following Obama’s reelection in Nov. 2012, Santos issued his papers to begin the citizenship process.
Part of the bill states that “immigrants with ‘extraordinary ability’ in sciences, arts, education, business or athletics” will have instant access to citizenship. By this measure, Santos could have waited until the bill was passed and received instant citizenship; however, he wanted to go through the same process that millions of illegal immigrants have, and feel some of the risk they do. “I wasn’t willing to be above the risk,” said Santos.
According to Santos, the new immigration reform is a “triumph to the people of the last 15 years who have been pushing for [legalization].”
However, Santos does not agree with all parts of the bill.
“There is something really bothering me,” said Santos.That is, immigrants who are on the “path to citizenship,” a process that could take up to 13 years and end up costing close to $2,000, will be ineligible to collect federal benefits like welfare or health care.
“I think that is absolutely immoral,” said Santos. “What happened to no taxation without representation? They shouldn’t have to pay. It’s our fault for having set up such a crazy system.”
On April 18 Santos, along with community and labor leaders, spoke at a press conference in front of Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s office, hoping to gain his support for immigration reform. Santos directly addressed McCarthy, who has not spoken in favor of or against the bill, saying: “It’s time for him to step up to the plate. And if he does not soon, we will take the steps ourselves.”