If I Were President – by Hector Galeano

I Too Am America
Artwork by Cecilia Flores

People ask me about my plans for the future. I tell them that I would like to become the first Latino, Guatemalan-American President. Then they wonder about my goals for my presidency. My goals would be:

1. Help out illegal immigrants.
2. Help out the homeless.
3. Increase minimum wage without increasing inflation.

You may ask, “How am I going to do that? Illegal immigration is big issue in America.” My plan is to hire people to sit down with immigrant families and hear about their journey to America. Then, they will go through the family’s record to see if they have committed any felonies or crimes in the U.S., or if they have had any other problems with the government. If they have a clean record, and if they came to the U.S. to find a better future for themselves and their families, and to take advantage of the opportunities this country can offer, why not let them have a chance? Let them stay here, give them a Visa, work permits, or even residency. Help immigrants move on, help them get back on their feet so they can have a decent job and a fair wage.

Homelessness in the U.S. is a big deal. As of 2012, more than 630,000 people were still homeless. In 2013, our fabulous New York City was named the “Homeless Capital of America” with approximately 64,000 people living in the streets. As president, I would use empty lots in the city where we can construct apartment complexes for the homeless—with the basic necessities, such as a living room, bathroom, and a kitchen. I would also help them get jobs so they can pick themselves up from the bottom and live a decent life. Many homeless persons are also dealing with addiction. Another program I would create would be to get them into rehab and help them cure their addictions.

Both of these issues require financial help. Today the minimum wage is $10 an hour. This is a good thing because we have many families who have a job and get paid minimum wage. But sometimes even with the minimum wage, they still don’t have enough money to spend on themselves. I say this from experience. The minimum wage right now isn’t enough, because as wages go up so does everything else. Before minimum wage went up, gasoline prices were around $2.00-$2.50/gallon; they are now over $3.00. It may not seem like much, but spending one dollar more on every gallon for however many times you fill your tank is a lot of money. Groceries and rents have also gone up and it all comes back to families who don’t have enough money for themselves with or without an increase in the minimum wage.

As President, I would make sure that low-income families have enough to spend on themselves. It is heartbreaking to have to say “no” to your kid or even yourself when you want to buy something as simple as ice cream. I would increase the minimum wage not just here in California but across the United States. Everyone deserves a chance to have fun and to spoil themselves every once in awhile. It is not fair for some people to have the best, and for other people to feel bad because they cannot afford a little something like a gift for a birthday or Christmas.

People might say I am crazy and that my goals as president are ridiculous. They say that helping out immigrants, helping the homeless, and increasing minimum wage isn’t realistic. But when I become the first Latino, Guatemalan-American president, let’s see if they still think my plans are ridiculous. As president I would make sure these things happen before my term is over. If these problems were fixed, we would have a better country, and we wouldn’t have people fighting for who deserves what and who is better than the other. Everyone would be equal. All I will try to do is give people an opportunity to pick themselves up so they can live a decent life and enjoy the little things in life. People don’t often get a chance to do that. That is what I would do if I were ever to become President of the United States.