Our Best Citizens
After many years of traveling in Santa Barbara and the greater Los Angeles area, by boat, bus and bicycle, I am convinced that illegal immigrants are our best citizens. The buses in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Orange County are usually majority hispanic and, I think, majority illegal immigrant (there I go racially profiling, huh?). In most cases there are more bicyclists that are probably illegal immigrants and when I ride or walk in school zones I see more folks that I would give this profile to walking their kids to school. Since this is the behavior that can give US a future, they are my choice as citizens, but the irony is that IF we legalize them they will no longer be good citizens because they will get cars, get off the bus and bicycle, and drive their kids to school like most of US.
As someone who has worked in maintenence landscaping, restaurants and construction, I also understand that employers have used illegal immigrants to hold wages down in these trades and others. Millions of illegal immigrants hold jobs in these trades and in meat packing and hotel trades as well. In fact, employers have all but ruined the Meatcutters/Butchers union this way.
It is NOT true that these are jobs US citizens do not want. Have you seen Thom Hartmann on this? http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0329-21.htm It is the frozen wages that US workers don't want, not the jobs!
Construction framers and laborers make little more than I did thirty years ago in this work because employers can take advantage of illegal immigrants. The plan to allow illegal immigrants to keep the jobs will do little to restore the wages since supply and demand will still have about 12 million immigrants competing for the work.
In addition to having worked in most of the trades most impacted by illegal immigrants, I have spent a lot of time in the their homelands, Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. I was an international election observer last year in El Salvador, a country with more than a quarter of its citizens in the USA. In a meeting with Obama, Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes replied to Obama's pledge of immigration reform by asking for restoration of opportunity in El Salvador. He is aware that US trade and aid policies have destroyed that opportunity and that immigration has been destructive to the social fabric of El Salvador, taking its most ambitious citizens, breaking up families and communties, depriving citizens of the right to vote in their homeland elections and leading to gangs due to the broken families.
I continue to think the only reform that will work for US, Mexican and Central American workers is reform that rebuilds the small enterprise and farming in the homelands of the immigrants. Obama promised to renegotiate NAFTA. He shoud do so and include CAFTA and examine foreign aid as well. We should use microloans to assist in this! A microloan equivalent to one visit to the emergency room, the only health care option they have, would do it!
In solidarity, Lane Anderson
Follow the Journey: http://www.vfpsb.org/ (blog)
“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” Historian Howard Zinnhttp://www.noozhawk.com/opinions/article/120509_lane_anderson_a_sailboat_bums_trip_to_santa_cruz_island
Transition Movement: http://www.transitiontownsb.org/ http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/4792 http://www.hopedance.org/home/soul-news/413Think globally: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/2962 http://greatchange.org/othervoices.html http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/007941.html http://www.yesmagazine.org/ http://www.pcdf.org/ http://www.ifad.org/media/video/food/ http://growthmadness.org/2007/10/31/six-steps-to-getting-the-global-ecological-crisis/ http://www.bioneers.org/Act locally: http://www.plansbsolutions.com http://www.bicicentro.org/ http://commuterbicycles.com/ www.sbfoodnotlawns.org http://www.sbbti.com/ www.sbLocal.orgWe are the antidote: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SBProgCoalition/message/4402?l=1
"Activism is my rent for living on the planet." Alice Walker