My Immigration Dilemma – Part One August 9, 2010Posted by voolavex in illegal, immigration, Social Issues.
Tags: bi-lingual, dilemma, illegal, immigrants, simple, Spanish
Ah Immigration. “Der goldene medina”, The Gold Mountain, The Promised Land (before aliyah). Didn’t folks used to get on the boat, get very seasick in steerage, disembark and try to blend in – eventually becoming citizens of the US. Wasn’t this a goal – a better life and citizenship. Certainly lots of people came in without documentation – but mostly it was about a good and generous county offering chance at a dream. The dream is over. We are a country suffering from every woe in the book; from BP’s oil greed in the Gulf to Mad Tea Parties and the threat of being blown up by religious fanatics. And Sarah Palin won’t go away. So we have a lot domestically, to address, in this country.
The issue of illegal immigration is a hot spot for Americans. And this is true on both sides of the issue. Some have soft spots in their minds for open arms and others would seal at least our southern borders with force fields if they could. For the 10%+ of this nation – the African Americans – this is a touchy issue and it should be. Stolen people, brought in chains built this country and served it for over 400 years. They were not immigrants. They were kidnapped and sold like animals to be slave labor. This country profited from their misery. This is hard cold fact. When the nation so generously “freed” them in 1865 – the free set up schools and businesses and towns and homes and – without even their 40 acres and mule – brought their own savvy, intelligence and culture to our country. Oops – too bad for them. How could we sit cheek by jowl with humans we had considered worse than animals? Equal rights? Not so fast. Next door? No. That’s wrong. Jim Crow – AHA! The light goes on and we create an abomination, solidly in place by 1910 called separate BUT equal - my ass. And even when this was abolished in 1964 – it never went away. So African Americans – who still bear the stigma and baseness of slavery and Jim Crow now have an additional obstacle to face – illegal immigration. They head my list – but the list goes on to the working poor citizen of every background who pays taxes and works hard and never gets to break even. If the government or Wall Street isn’t screwing us all, then we are paying bills for folks who come in illegally and ask for benefits. No visas period. It seems unfair.
Because many of us do find this unfair – we get to be labeled bigots. A word I use for the worst of our species. Some states try to seal their borders with laws and obstacles. The nation disapproves, but under its breath it whispers about “what a good idea”. Well for the unemployed citizens it is not a wrong reaction. I believe it is a myth that illegal immigrants take jobs no one else wants. I believe greedy and cheap employers hire illegals to make more money. I think they do not care about visas or green cards or anything else. If you were broke and out of work – would you be a gardener for $10 an hour? I bet you would but why pay that if you can get someone for $7.50 an hour – off the books. It’s pretty much that simple an equation. Would you like to flip burgers for minimum wage – just for some income – I bet you would – but you would probably hope to advance. People with iffy or no papers cannot rock their own boat. They are easier to fire and malleable; following invented rules to maintain the pecking order. They may know their rights – but are afraid to jeopardize their families by mentioning them. Companies like this. It keeps expenses low and profits high. So my own take on the myth of jobs no one else would do is just that – a myth.
Immigration rights groups in the Southwest and West tend to be largely Latino – probably because our country borders Central and South America. So this becomes a fascinating accelerant, used by both sides to fuel the fire. As the fire of bigotry rages – the problem and any solution die from smoke inhalation. For example:
One side says: “You hate us and don’t want us to come because we are brown and don’t know English”. The other side says we don’t hate you; “enter legally, speak English and you are welcome to be here. (not that simple but in a nutshell). Which is a no win argument. And it is fostered by both sides this way (and the point of this blog):
This was an ad I kept seeing on my AOL computer screen: “Latinos! Encuentran las mejores tasa enseguros de vehiculos! Cotizacion gratis?”.
1. It was in Spanish but advertised US car insurance. So it was directed at a US demographic.
2. It invited a specific group to its services “Latinos”.
3. This implied that only that group would benefit.
Why is this a problem? Substitute the word “Latinos” for
3. Black People
You get the idea. It would create problems.
Yet when Spanish speaking illegal immigrants come here we have de facto bi-linguality that is puzzling. While we expect – as a country – our residents to be English speaking - we make an exception for speakers of Spanish. Doesn’t it imply: “Hey, come on in – we will even use your own language to make it easier.” How does this encourage any immigrant from south of our border to learn to navigate in the English speaking US? What is it saying about our own position on Spanish speaking illegal immigrants? No wonder people are confused. No wonder it becomes easy to polarize. No wonder we can all sound like bigots by simply agreeing with just one of only TWO premises.
I think we need to decide once and for all that illegal means just that. You are breaking a law and you may not come here, live and work by doing so. But we also need to remove the second language that accommodates our neighbors, encourages them and creates a unique group of residents called “Latinos” who won’t get with the program and join us speaking English – outside the home and church. Why is that so hard to imagine.
Why can’t we start with this conversation – leave the words “racist” and “bigot” out of it and discuss like civilized people how to start fixing this problem? Does anyone have an opinion or answer. Bring it on.