An illegal immigrant earns a Ph.D. Now what?
By Ilan Stavans
Jorge Arbusto isn't the type of person who seeks the limelight. In fact, for years he has thrived in the shadows. But ask him today what he wants, and his answer is unequivocal: to be recognized.
A sweet, passionate, steadfast student originally from Mexico, Jorge (his name has been changed for this article)
I'll say. "Jorge Arbusto" is Spanish for "George Bush." That raises questions about whether the whole article is a hoax intended as satire on the cult of the illegal alien, but the tone is so authentically maudlin that that seems unlikely.
may be the only undocumented immigrant to successfully defend a doctoral dissertation in the United States.
Wow. Tens of millions of illegal aliens over the years and a grand total of one Ph.D. from that vast population? Wow. That's such a miserably low a level of achievement that even I can't believe it's true. But, the takeaway lesson is that it's close enough to be true that nobody except me questions it.
Certainly he is among a very small group. Yet his case poses questions that not only affect thousands of undergraduates today—some sources put it at around 50,000—but also challenge our ideas about hard work, the choices that colleges do or should make, the value of education (for students and society), and, yes, that thorn in our political side—immigration and the Dream Act, which is still stalled in Congress.
So, what kind of dissertation did Jorge Arbusto write? Did he solve the problems of fusion energy generation?
Having defended his dissertation on Spanish-language popular culture, Jorge received his Ph.D. in Hispanic studies this past spring.
He left Mexico to escape a dangerously homophobic atmosphere.
Gay Latino immigrants like Gamaliel Lopez, a native of Mexico, came to this country because they could not imagine an openly gay life at home. They found acceptance in some ways — Mr. Lopez says he can express his sexuality without fear in New York — but they also felt as if they entered the country with two black marks: one for being an immigrant, another for being gay.
"Several people will be completely ruined after this evening. There's going to be a mass exodus for Mexico City in the morning. But then Mexico City is so wonderfully wild."
But he clearly shatters the stereotype of Mexican immigrants as unintellectual and unmotivated. Let's find out more about him from his Wikipedia article, which begins:
Ilan Stavans (born Ilan Stavchansky on April 7, 1961, in Mexico City) is a Mexican-American, essayist, lexicographer, cultural commentator, translator, short-story author, TV personality, and teacher known for his insights into American, Hispanic, and Jewish cultures.
Ilan Stavans was born in Mexico to a middle-class Jewish family from the Pale of Settlement, his father Abraham was a popular Mexican soap opera star.