Ben Carson says we are drowning in a sea of “political correctness.” Which seems to mean nothing more than that being POLITE and RESPECTFUL interferes with his ability to appeal to the racist, nativist needs of his constituency.
No doubt, some will see my appeal to stop using the terms “illegal” or “illegal aliens” as an attempt to “pretty up” a bad situation by alluding to people’s sense of decency.
Well I am in some ways doing just that. I’m trying to appeal to your sense of decency, if such a thing is still to be found in the body politic of twenty-first century America.
I come by this opinion honestly, meaning that it is not something that I have suddenly acquired, but rather it is the product of a lifelong interest and pursuit of what it means to be an immigrant in America. It starts out in one of those silly situations of life that appear meaningless–being a teen.
We hung out with a bunch of boys from another high school, one more racially diverse than our own, which boasted no African-Americans and as far as I can remember, no notable members of any other ethnic group either. We were all pretty much white folk of one variety or another. Anyway, with my other friends, I was from time to time exposed to “others”. One of them was a kid named Valentine Rodriguez. I can’t remember a thing about him, nor what he looked like, (other than CUTE), but his name I never forgot. I found him as exotic as his name.
Being a resident of Michigan it was not unusual at certain times of the year to see trucks full of brown-skins moving from farm to farm, picking crops. As a lawyer, I also came in contact with migrant workers from time to time as they fell victim as do we all, to various driving infractions that required a court appearance.
When I was in serious examination as to whether I should continue with my entry into the Dominican Order, I contemplated and talked with people from various organizations in D.C. and locally about possible ministries I might engage in once I had reached that point in the convent. I wrote on the topic of Hispanic issues and thrilled to one of the more enticing of theologies–liberation theology, which had developed in the Medellin Conference in the 50’s led by such notable theologians as Gutierrez, Sobrino, and Boff. I devoured their books.
Ultimately I ended up retiring with my husband to Las Cruces, New Mexico, I small city on the southern border of New Mexico, one where the population is fairly evenly split between Anglos and Hispanics.
From all such experiences I have learned a great deal, and my passion, respect, and enjoyment of Hispanic culture in all its multiplicities continues to delight me. My neighbors are so diverse that it truly is a place of no majorities. My life, as you might expect is so thoroughly entwined in the native cultures I live in, that there is a true blending and it would be hard to separate one cultural experience from another, as we adopt bits and pieces from each other and construct a new paradigm that is “New Mexican” in nature.
The need for immigration reform is apparent to all yet the manner of that reform divides white American into deep chasmic chaos. For growling in the depths of the American scene is a harshness and anger that recurs as the continuing call, by a small segment, for the draconian answer to it all being deportation.
While most everyone but the hateful few, know this is both immoral and impractical, it doesn’t stop the arguments. And it doesn’t stop the hurt that is inflicted both upon the undocumented worker him/herself, but also those of us who know them intimately and feel their pain.
It HURTS to hear this sort of talk.
These people first of all, possessed this land long before we did. We here in New Mexico, as well as parts of Texas and Arizona and California, were once Mexico’s lands, and were peopled by them and other natives in the region. That changed when Anglos discovered value in these lands (New Mexico was something of an exception. The land is not so valuable, and so it developed with less of the usual American swagger and power. Today we are a constitutionally bilingual state, and we guard our cultural richness carefully.)
Beyond that historical fact, we must turn to the horrific record of American involvement in South America per se. We have continuously through multiple administrations supported vicious dictatorships who willingly allowed American business interests to rape the country financially (as long as they shared in the stealing) while their populations suffered in poverty. (Thus the rise of Liberation theology to offset the Church’s real past assistance to the dictators in maintaining order.)
So in some real ways the situations in many Latin countries today is one created by Americans, who now it seems are upset that these populations often flee their native lands in search of some hope of a future for their families. They cross the border because we in part are responsible for the fact that their native countries are a wasteland of poverty and crime.
Look, people from South America are no different from you. If they come here destitute, unskilled, and with nowhere to turn, it is no fault of their own. If they send their children across hundreds of miles of lands to reach America, they do it because it is far safer for them this way than to remain in their countries. They love their kids, and want the best life possible for them. They are no different from you.
And when they come here, the vast majority find friends or relatives who have come before. They seek employment. They work hard jobs that you probably don’t want, at wages you would not tolerate.
Yet, there is an ugliness that surrounds the issue as people like Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal and others demand that more severe alternatives be considered other than what most see as humane and fair–a process that will lead to citizenship for people who have lived here for decades.
And it results in awful statements by folks with little actual data suggesting that they are taking stuff that belongs to “us”. The facts are otherwise.
Much is made about the supposed “fact” that undocumented people “get government freebies”. This is not true. They don’t. They are not eligible for welfare, food stamps or Medicaid. They pay into the SS through their taxes and do not become eligible to receive any of the benefits. They do this to the tune of $100 billion in the last decade alone.
They do not take American jobs. As pointed out, most Americans won’t do the jobs they will. Any number of studies show this to be true. Ask Alabama what happened when it became illegal to hire anyone who was undocumented. Their crops rotted in the field as white workers found the work “too hard” or “boring” and walked off the job after a few hours.
Current estimates are that they pay in between 10-11 BILLION more taxes than they receive through any source. They thus add a positive to the economy that is numbered at about 10 billion annually. The is above and beyond what they send back to their home countries to help remaining relatives.
They are told to get to the “end of the line.” The “line” is now 4.4 million people long, and there is no real hope that any of them could enter legally for years. In 2013, nearly 73,000 parents were deported from their so-called anchor babies. They will not be allowed to return until their child is 21 and can petition for their return.
Worse yet, in a climate that claims that they are a strong criminal element in the country, the studies and numbers show otherwise. In the ten-year period between 96-06, statistics show that crime was lower in the states with the highest illegal immigration rates.
Those are facts.
Just for fun ask yourself this: Do you think the Canadians referred to Americans who fled to their country to avoid the draft as “illegal aliens”? The answer is no. They were referred to as “immigrants” and processed accordingly.
What must be admitted or realized is that all the scary stuff is designed to make you afraid. And fear motivates people to vote. And they want you to vote for them, not because their words are true, but simply because fear of ANYTHING works for them.
We, down here in the borderlands (yes, that’s the term we actually use), find your hysteria silly and amusing and sad and disgusting all at once.
It needs to stop. These are real people, just like you and I. And it’s time we give them the help and compassion they deserve. They pull their weight and then some. It’s time to recognize your misdirection and seek the real source of your misery–the sleight-of-hand-artists who depend on your acquiescence in their desire for power and money.