Archive for the ‘mexico’ tag
In a news item related to the previous post, two Texas city mayors have presented differing opinions on a proposal to bring war equipment from concluded Middle Eastern operations to the border.
The Send Equipment for National Defense Act (creative title, huh?) says that 10 percent of certain equipment, from Humvees to night vision equipment, be sent to the border with Mexico for border enforcement. The mayors from El Paso and Laredo apparently are not of the same mind on the plan. As per this Texas Tribune article:
The proposal has drawn criticism from Mayor John Cook of El Paso, who has vigorously disputed assertions that his city, which sits across the border from Ciudad Juárez, is affected by the same violence that has plagued northern Mexico.
“I would invite them to come to El Paso, and we can look at the inventory of equipment that’s coming back from Iraq and they can tell me where they’d want to locate this,” Mr. Cook said. “To me, it’s just showing a whole lot of ignorance.”
The mayor said moving war zone equipment to the border would send the wrong signal to Mexico and potentially damage the robust symbiotic economic relationship between the two countries. El Paso and Ciudad Juárez trade more than $70 billion annually, Mr. Cook said.
But Mayor Raul Salinas of Laredo, which has the nation’s largest inland port, said he welcomed the equipment and did not view it as an unnecessary militarization of the border.
“I would welcome any resources and equipment that would help us to be more vigilant along the border,” Mr. Salinas said. “And if it’s equipment that would provide support, I would welcome it with open arms.”
Mr. Salinas has also had to fend off accusations that his city is as violent as its Mexican counterpart, Nuevo Laredo. In fact, data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation show that El Paso and Laredo are among the safest cities of their respective sizes in the country.
In a piece titled, “Arizona’s Real Immigration Problem: Migrant Deaths,” by Byran Curtis adds commentary to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s recently spewed line about how “immigrant crime, drug cartels, ‘bodies in the desert (Brewer’s quote)’ have necessitated that state policemen badger anyone they think looks like an illegal immigrant to hand over their papers, which are supposed to be, according to the new bill, literally on the suspect in question’s actual person. Like in his or her back pocket. Or under his sombrero. We can concoct any number of ridiculous scenarios.
Below is a story of an illegal who actually didn’t make it far enough in the desert to see this dehumanizing bill come to full fruition. As it turns out, the desert is dehumanizing enough, as much or more so than any nonsense Brewer and her allies can hatch from plush government offices:
Diego Gutierrez, a 25-year-old man Mexican man, illegally crossed the border into Arizona sometime around last Friday. Gutierrez was handsome and well built, with big eyes and a head of thick, black hair. In a photo taken by a Pima County medical examiner, he appeared to have a Roman nose. After trudging through the desert on days when temperatures at a nearby airfield reached 106 degrees, Gutierrez began to complain of stomach cramps. He vomited. Gutierrez’s father, who had crossed the border with him, left his son and flagged down a Border Patrol officer. The officer later reported that he and the father found Gutierrez’s body in the wee hours of Monday morning, July 26. Gutierrez was lying on his back under a tree; his head, fittingly enough, was pointed north.
This is not at all surprising to me. This happens every day along parts of the border, and from talking with local Hispanics in the area, it’s been happening for years. A local restaurant owner with whom I speak with from time to time is the living embodiment of the American dream. He crossed the border illegally about 20 years ago (an act that he says was extremely dangerous even then) to support his parents back home in a poor region of Mexico. He has been legal in the states for well more than 15 years, has kids in the local school system here, a wife and successful business in town.
Curtis puts the current immigrant deaths in the desert into perspective:
… authorities are finding many dead bodies in the Arizona desert these days, but they are not the victims of immigrant murderers. They are the immigrants themselves. What 1070 misses is that it’s far more dangerous to sneak into Arizona than it is to live here.
This month, there have been 58 dead migrants, including Diego Gutierrez, delivered to the medical examiner of Pima County, the large southern Arizona county that stretches from Tucson south to the border. One hundred and fifty-two dead border crossers have turned up in the office since January. To compare that number to much-fussed about immigrant crime statistics, 152 is more than the total number of people murdered in Phoenix, by anyone, in all of 2009.
On a related topic, Rush Limbaugh today on his radio program said the Obama administration, condescendingly calling it a “regime,” said Obama and Co. had no interest in enforcing the border.
But as I was listening to Limbaugh’s unending condescension, I couldn’t help but think that it doesn’t matter one wit about Obama administration’s stance on immigration. I’m quite sure Obama doesn’t support overt illegal immigration, but even if he did, it doesn’t matter. If Limbaugh or others don’t like the current administration’s policies, vote the man out. Just because folks might not agree with the current “regime” in power still doesn’t give Arizona or any other state the authority to circumvent federal law. That’s what elections are for. If people think the current crew is being soft on immigration (I don’t know how this conclusion could be reached since the Border Patrol operates every hour of every day along the border), another election will soon be forthcoming and someone else can be voted in. To bitch and moan about the current administration, which was democratically voted into office by a majority of the population, is childish at best, and plucking from sour grapes at worst.
Already, the ill-effects of Arizona’s new immigration bill can be seen, as a conference that has convened for 30 years between governors of states that border United States and Mexico is in jeopardy of not occurring at all or occurring in another venue either in Texas, New Mexico or California.
Today, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a staunch proponent of the Arizona bill, was sent a letter by the six Mexican governors across the border that in effect said they would not be attending the conference if it was held in Arizona. Consequently, Brewer was set to be the chairwoman and host of the conference this year, a position to which she received via rotation.
The Mexican governors proposed an alternate venue for the conference. Their letter said SB 1070
contains provisions based on ethnic and cultural prejudices, which are contrary to the fundamental rights of individuals, as set International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN American Convention on Human Rights of the OAS …
Governor Brewer doesn’t have the authority to cancel the Border Governors Conference. She may not want to host it for political reasons, but that’s not a reason to sidestep the tough issues that border governors must address, including migration and border violence. Governor Richardson will look for alternative sites to host the conference, with or without Arizona’s participation.
More clashes of this kind are imminent if the Justice Department’s legal challenge to Arizona’s bill fails, but I don’t think it will. The lawsuit against Arizona was filed today. More on that here.
This article, which was sent to me by a friend, reports that my home state of South Carolina (and many others) is now considering its own unconstitutional immigration law a la Arizona’s recently passed travesty. Here is the full article from The State.
Scott Huffman, a Winthrop University political science professor, indicated that the subcommittee met to discuss the bill was only making a “symbolic,” gesture because the legislature wouldn’t have time to pass the law in this session:
By doing it when they don’t actually have time to pass the legislation, they get credit for the symbolic stand without having to worry about how to fund the measure.
Yes, and by credit, Huffman means, political points. Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, noted that none of the five on the committee were up for reelection:
We are not playing to anybody. It’s not a pandering-type thing.
Perhaps not as individual politicians, but as a party, it most certainly is pandering.
Regardless, South Carolina already passed an immigration law in 2008, then deemed one of the stiffest in the nation, and which instituted the E-verify system requiring employers to validate potential employees legal status by either drivers license or documentation with the Department of Homeland Security. The Senate bill, according to The State,
would allow state and local police to check immigration status after detaining or arresting a person for another reason. The officer would need reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally.
People questioned would have to provide identification issued by the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, a tribal enrollment card or an ID issued by the U.S. government. The bill also includes a provision that would outlaw the hiring of illegal immigrants for day labor.
The words aren’t in quotes, but “reasonable suspicion” is the actual verbiage from the bill, but what on earth does that mean? In my view, this gives big-feeling law enforcement officers too much leeway and power to determine, with all the implications that come from living in the historically anti-brown and anti-black South, far too much license to find “reasonable suspicion” wherever, and on whomever, they choose.
And according to the this story, the public seems to be behind measures of this kind. But, I would argue, it makes no difference what the public supports or not. The “public” does not always have the nation’s true best interests at heart or enough knowledge of anything to make intelligent decisions about anything. After all, 59 percent of Americans say that religion plays an important part of their lives, far greater than any other modernized, wealthy nation.
And yes, immigrants to this country have always had a tough road to hoe, none greater than Africans in the 17th century, later Irish and Italians, and now Hispanics, but the spirit of this country is immigration, and as I’ve noted in newspaper columns, Obama must work to pass meaningful and long-needed immigration reform. These rogue states’ yahoo approach to go it alone is misguided, and by all means, unconstitutional, and at the start, against the spirit on which this country was founded. According to the above linked story by the Christian Science Monitor,
the results of these polls miss the point, says Lara Brown, a political scientist at Villanova University. “There is more consensus on this topic among Americans than most politicians seem to believe.”
“The majority of Americans are not anti-immigrant, pro-illegals, or in favor of a police state,” Brown says. “Instead, they want government to uphold the rule of law (the federal rule of law, italics mine), and they want America to continue to be a country that stands by its long heritage of welcoming those, as the inscription on the Statute of Liberty reads, who are ‘yearning to breathe free.’ The real story is that.”
Want a pretty good benchmark for when you know times are tough in the United States? When folks in poor parts of Mexico are actually sending money northward to assist unemployed relatives in the States.
The New York Times reported Nov. 15 the cases of several families who previously had received money from their United States-based relatives, but when those relatives lost their jobs, those in Mexico started chipping in and sending what they could north over the border via wire transfer. According to the article,
During the best of the times, Miguel Salcedo’s son, an illegal immigrant in San Diego, would be sending home hundreds of dollars a month to support his struggling family in Mexico. But at times like these, with the American economy out of whack and his son out of work, Mr. Salcedo finds himself doing what he never imagined he would have to do: wiring pesos north.
The article notes a telling fact: it’s easier to get by on very little in Mexico than it is in America. The Avendano family, living in Miahuatlán, scrape by via a kind of subsistence farming on their own land. To help with their finances, Sirenia Avendano sells chili rellenos around the neighborhood.
Speaking of his two sons, whose hours and tips were cut at the Florida restaurant in which they work, Javier Avendano said,
We have an obligation to help them. They’re our sons. It doesn’t matter if they are here or there.
An aquaintance of mine who runs, with the help of his wife and family, a Mexican grocery store and restaurant here in town once told me of his own struggles to reach America. He took the dangerous jaunt across the border many years ago, was once an illegal, and has long since gotten his citizenship. He has children in the local school district and has deep roots in the county in which I live at this point. The last time I checked, he was still sending money back home to his parents.
As I have said many times and will continue to say, stories like those of my acquaintance and of the Avendanos speak to the fact that illegal immigrants aren’t monsters, as Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh and others would have us believe. They are human beings with families and folks who love them. Should we do away with our naturalization laws and open to borders completely? Definitely, we shouldn’t do away with the laws, but enforcing the border with a 1,000-plus mile fences seems like a comic book, implausible, inhumane and abhorent solution. There is such a thing as country citizenship, in Mexico, in other Latino countries and here. Should we accept the fact that the ones who are here probably aren’t leaving unless the situation here gets worse than it is in Mexico? Probably so. The wholesale excavation of these people is completely out of the question and is absolutely, logistically impossible.
So, what do we do? First, and I hope the Obama administration doesn’t oversee anymore raids. We should stop the inhumane raids, separating children from their parents. Focus on the employers who are willingly or not, hiring illegals. If they unwillingly hire them, that is, presented the potential employee with proper paperwork and the illegal lies or presents false information, dish out a lesser penalty to the employer. If the employer willingly hires illegals because it’s cheap labor or for whatever other reason, throw the book at them.
This issue has become one cause that I’m willing to champion over and over again. For too long, I’ve heard the talking heads and folks who apparently have a cold stone for a heart, rant on and on about how immigrants are turning the country brown, that we should close the border and that immigrants are taking “real” Americans’ jobs (whatever that means), and it’s really nauseating.
Talk about nauseating. This quote is too ill-conceived to let slip through the cracks. On the supposed “brown” dilemma, check out what Frosty Wooldridge had to say about the immigration problem in California:
The brown toxic cloud strangling Los Angeles never lifts and grows thicker with every immigrant added. One can’t help appreciate the streets of Paris will soon become the streets of LA. However, Paris’ streets erupted while LA’s shall sink into a Third World quagmire much like Bombay or Calcutta, India. When you import THAT much crime, illiteracy, multiple languages and disease—Americans pick up stakes and move away. It’s an unlivable nightmare.
It’s chilling to me that viewpoints such as this ignorant drivel still persist in what was once, in its infancy, such a progressive, forward-looking country. Arguably, and regrettably from my view, we haven’t been all that progressive since the 18th century, but that’s for another debate.
But I digress. Next, I’ll look at this topic somemore, as it relates to Lou Dobbs’ recent resignation from CNN and a recent, related New York Times editorial. I am currently working on adding content to a new WordPress-powered Counting Crows site, so that would explain my lack of posts in the last week or so. But I’m back in the saddle. … I hope.
Ok, I admit it. I’m quite addicted to sporcle.com, a site of which you best bring your A-game. Here, you can play any number of games that will test your knowledge of geography, music, politics, religion and other subjects. Recently, I have been playing some geography and have, subsequently, learned all countries in North America and Europe (It isn’t as easy as you think, and there are actually 23 countries in North America, not three.)
If you are interested in getting a firm grasp of the world as we know it, in all subjects, this is a wonderful resource that will, both challenge your knowledge and your patience. Next, I plan to tackle Africa and learn all the countries there, and then on to South America, Asia and Oceania. My friend, Blake, has done all the above and is now attempting, maybe at this point, succeeding, in correctly identifying all 195 countries on the planet. Here are records of my recent conquests. Allllright!, as Quagmire would say.
James McPherson had a good article on his blog about President Barack Obama’s move to boost Mexican border security and to spend $700 million to assist Mexican officials in buying surveillance aircraft and equipment, noting:
Mexico is the third-leading provider of imported oil for the United States, but the leading provider of illegal drugs. Oil companies tend to be much more refined than drug cartels in their use of violence, and to have bigger U.S.-backed armies, so in Mexico it’s the drugs, not the oil, fueling the war.
In return, Americans provide the money and the guns to keep the war going–pretty much as we do in the rest of the world, though in this case it’s not through major corporations with the endorsement of the U.S. government. Of course at the government level we are still continuing a failed decades-long “war on drugs” policy instead of taking the simpler, cheaper route of drug legalization.
As I noted in a comment on his site, for some reason, I have an intense interest in the debate about illegal immigration. As I said on McPherson’s site, I don’t think these people are getting a fair shake, and here’s why.
If one traces history through the generations (at least in America), one finds instance upon instance of a new segment of population being introduced into the ”host” country, and then, out of fear or racism by the current inhabitants, the new group is mistreated, disenfranchised, enslaved, uprooted from their homes or sold as chattel, along with other numerous other dehumanizing actions. Then, perhaps after years or generations of struggle and oppression, on one fine, sunny day, the pervailing populous allows the oppressed to stand beside them as equals.
I’m a white guy, obviously, with mostly white family and friends, but for some reason, this is an issue about which I’m quite passionate. Perhaps it partly stems from my time living in a county highly populated by Hispanics, one in which there seems to be clear racial profiling going on among the backward-thinking law enforcement. If folks in America had any clue (and I admit I don’t) what it might be like to be a 5-year-old kid in Mexico to get one toy, just one, not $300 worth of toys, under the tree for Christmas or to grow up your entire life in abject poverty under a government that has proven to be impotent at sustaining its own people, they would speak a different tune. I obviously had no such experience as a child. Though raised of modest means, my level of privilege lapsed many kids living in Mexico many times over. Yet, the ability to emphathize, even among people who grew up with less than I did, seems to be lost on many Americans today.
The argument, and quite passionately, will surely come that these folks are draining the system or illegals that do make it to this country are taking jobs away from legal Americans. But of what consequence is this argument? Either the legal Americans aren’t applying for the same jobs, or they are less qualified. If the best people get the jobs, for we can only assume they do, (Why would employers want incompetent people working for them?) and the best person in some job vacancy happens to be of brown skin, so be it. This argument falls flat.
Crime is another argument that frequently comes from those who are fed up with the illegal immigration (or even legal immigration) problem. One, all people, no matter race, commit violent crimes. Illegals commit violent crimes and so do white and black folks. Here’s one link, and here’s another. Gleam from them what you will. I, personally, believe those who commit crimes don’t just belong to a particular race. To think otherwise would be racism. I need only to name Charles Manson, Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Stalin and Robert Mugabe to give a smorgasbord of people who have, in their own way, wreaked havoc on humanity (and this is a very short list).
The fear of how immigrants might alter America as we know it is irrational and has been proven time and time again to be a moot point. From what I can tell, immigrants have altered this country for the better, for without them, in America there would ultimately be no Michael Jordan, no Michael Jackson, no Tiger Woods, no Frederick Douglas, no W.E.B. DuBois, no Jesse Jack, no Kobe Bryant, no Harriet Tubman, no Abraham Lincoln, no John Lennon, no Barack Obama. Thus, in the 21st century, where we have an international space station, where we can scope out many parts of the universe and spot galaxies light years away, where we can intelligently talk about gamma ray bursts and black holes and the beginning of life itself, racism has no place, and it must be crushed.
We have huge problems to tackle with regard to the national and world economy, and racism should have been dealt the death blow years ago, but by the will of ignorance and fear, it persists. If this doesn’t sadden you, something warm has hardened.
It’s funny. I can go for days without posting anything — for lack of inspiration or anything that generally hacks me off, I guess — and then watch the news for two hours and come up with numerous things I could write about. Go figure. I’ll include two of those here.
- Even if it may be, by some accounts, the better of the 24/7 news networks as far as fair presentation, less FOX News-esque garbage, there’s still plenty of garbage to go around. I point to a brief segment with a reporter named Allen Chernoff, where to explain the last stimulus plan given to the banks, Chernoff, like a first-grade teacher, began throwing dollar bills down in front of the camera to illustrate the fact that the feds simply threw money at the bank disaster to attempt to salve the bleeding. Then, and even in a more cartoonish manner, he pulled out a piggy bank to attempt to explain the current proposals under the new $800 billion plan. At least, I think that’s what he was talking about. I sort of tuned out when the pink pig appeared. The female host was right on, probably to the chagrin of the producers — who must of thought having this goofball illustrate the most serious economic crisis in this country since the Depression with airborne dollar bills and a pink piggy bank was a good idea — when she said she felt like she had returned to grade school. I felt the same way. News channels shouldn’t feel the need to insult our intelligence this way, yet they continue with this foolishness. Of course, their ultimate goal is getting increased viewership, not spreading information. If their goal was the latter, CNN and the rest of them would be more like PBS or C-SPAN.
- Speaking of C-SPAN, I watched some of Washington Journal this morning with Sen. Tom Coburn and Roll Call reporter Emily Pierce. During one of the call-in segments, some wahoo was speaking about the economy and talking about how he was at an unemployment office recently. Clearly frustrated by the problem of illegal immigration, he made a comment that all the illegal aliens in the particular office he visited were taking good jobs from legal Americans. First, I doubt he went from one Hispanic person to another, asking for their green cards and documentation, thus factually proving each person in there was illegal. Second, he’s one of a unfortunate many who see brown skin and equate them with either holding illegal status in this country or with crime in general. This was a commentary of racism the hosts and the guest were glad to sidestep. When are folks going to become reasonable and compassionate in their dealings with other human beings? Will it take a whole other century? While it’s true that some Hispanics got into this country illegally and probably get government services via fraudulent documents, Hispanic people aren’t inherently illegal aliens or criminals, and this person had no proof that any — and in all likelihood, not even one — person in that office he visited was actually illegal. He simply made an irrational assumption — and an offensive one — based on fear, racism or whatever.
The following story pretty well confirms what I’ve said previously about Hispanics and immigration. Again, folks making bigoted statements about Hispanics and illegals appear to have no understanding — and/or no compassion — as to their struggle. Mexico, for most natives, is a wasteland of poverty. The government cares nothing for them, clearly, and is failing to support its own people. Hispanics attempting to come to this country — legally or not — and are met with the same animosity/bigotry/racism the Irish faced two centuries ago. So, many of them are caught in this catch-22: face a lifetime of poverty for their family and children in Mexico (and possibly death for all of the above) or attempt to come to American to send money back home to help buy food, clothes, and the all-important Christmas present (note the singularity) for the kids. If America was an economic wasteland of despair and Canada was a land-o-plenty, one can bet we would be flooding north en masse to strive for something better. Hispanics are doing nothing more.
Opponents of such an argument point to all the crime infused into this country because of illegals — rape, drunkenness, what have you — but for every newspaper clipping of some girl raped by an illegal someone sends me (and they have), I can give you a clip of a native born America also charged of rape. See here: Let’s be clear: crime is a symptom of morals gone wrong, not of citizenship, and certainly not a race or creed.
Time are hard, so I expect folks will continue hammering anyone they perceive to be draining economic resources from state and country, erstwhile, overlooking the vast number of white and black moms having more children that they can afford, also draining resources needlessly.
One may think I have close Hispanic friends or relatives, but I do not. I don’t need to have close Hispanics to sympathize with them. That, I get from wearing the human badge. Many have either lost theirs or thrown it away. There can be no other explanation.
GREENVILLE, South Carolina — When Magdalana Domingo Ramirez Lopez moved to the South Carolina city of Greenville nearly two years ago to work at the chicken processing plant, she felt at home.
On weekends, the neighborhood near House of Raeford’s plant was filled with the sounds of salsa music and the scents of her native Guatemalan cooking. She would shop with her three small sons at nearby businesses that catered to Spanish-speaking immigrants — some in the country legally, others not.
Magdalana Domingo Ramirez Lopez, 29, of Guatemala, tearfully talks about her ordeal a day after being arrested by federal agents at The House of RaefordWhile the sights and sounds reminded Lopez of home, she said she was happy living in the United States — a place that offered a better life for her and her three young sons.
But those hopes were shattered Tuesday when federal agents swooped into the plant, arresting 330 suspected illegal immigrants, six of them juveniles, effectively shutting down the factory and tearing apart the close-knit community.
Lopez was arrested and could be deported, as her husband was two years ago.
“My whole life has changed,” she said as tears rolled down her cheeks. “I don’t want to go back. My sons are better off here. The country is so poor. There’s nothing there.”
In response to requests Wednesday for comment on the raid, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman said only that those arrested were violating immigration law.
A day after the raid, families waited to hear from loved ones at detention centers. Meanwhile, businesses and streets were vacant because those not rounded up stayed home, afraid agents would return.
Just days before, poultry workers visibly filled the neighborhoods around the plant.
The community’s transformation was slow but steady over the last 15 years as the newcomers replaced working-class whites and blacks. Neighborhood residents who knew about federal charges against plant supervisors accused of helping illegal immigrants forge documents didn’t think the trouble would trickle down to them.
After all, they were only here to give the plant long hours of joint-aching work and local officials didn’t seem to mind. That thought was likely shared by immigrants in communities nationwide including states throughout the South, Iowa and New York who have been caught in similar raids by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Lopez, 29, believed she was safe. But she spent most of Tuesday being fingerprinted and questioned by federal agents and a day later was coming to grips with being sent back to Guatemala. Her sons — ages 4, 5 and 6 — were all born in the U.S.
“The whole time I was there with police, I cried. I kept thinking about my sons. That I wouldn’t see them again,” she said.
She left Central America because she didn’t want her family to grow up in a place where she was so hungry at times that she had to eat grass and dirt.
“I came to the U.S. for work. I came in peace. My goal was to help my sons grow up in a better place. Now that’s gone,” she said.
House of Raeford processes chickens and turkeys in eight plants in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and Michigan. The Greenville plant and its nearly 900 workers have been under scrutiny for almost a year as authorities looked into allegations the company knowingly hired illegal immigrants. Eleven supervisors and the plant’s human resources director have been arrested, mostly for falsifying immigration documents.
The company has issued a statement saying it never knowingly hired illegal immigrants and was cooperating.
Many workers say they had no idea about the legal troubles or that a raid was imminent.
“We never thought they would come in and start arresting everyone,” said 35-year-old Jorge Mendoza, who missed the morning raid because he works second shift. “That would be like shutting down the plant. They wouldn’t do that, we thought. The plant is too busy.”
Mendoza said he plans to move his family because it’s too dangerous to stay.
Greenville County deputies couldn’t do much about illegal immigrants because no provision in South Carolina law makes it illegal to be in the U.S. without permission. Instead, deputies who thought they arrested or spoke to an illegal immigrant were told to contact federal immigration officials, said Master Deputy Michael Hildebrand.
Those arrested in the raid face various charges, including re-entry after deportation, counterfeit documents and false statements. All are in the U.S. Marshal’s custody and have been processed for deportation.
Lopez is under house arrest and has to wear an ankle monitor until her deportation hearing Nov. 14. She has no money to hire a lawyer.
Her 4-year-old son, Issias, is recovering from surgery she doubted he would get proper medical care in Guatemala, where she plans to take her children to rejoin their father.
Emilio Espinoza manages the Guatemala Restaurant in a strip mall with a grocery store, bakery and nightclub, all catering toward Hispanics.
His usually packed restaurant was empty at lunchtime Wednesday for the first time since he opened seven years ago. Half his employees didn’t show up because they were scared immigration agents might be in the area.
“People are afraid to leave their homes,” said the 35-year-old Espinoza.
David Wynn said he has watched the neighborhood change around his heating and air conditioning supply store across the street from the plant.
Everyone knew the plant hired illegal immigrants, said Wynn, who added no one wanted to do anything about it because they figured the workers were doing jobs no one else wanted. With the economy getting worse, that’s probably no longer true and he worries what is going to happen to all the people caught up in the raid.
“We need to pray for them,” Wynn said.
I have quite often written about the immigration debacle in this country (See here for one example: http://everythingafter.wordpress.com/2008/08/27/leave-the-us-and-return-to-poverty-destitution-count-me-in-written-aug-16-2008/, but not so much from the standpoint of supporting tougher restrictions and shipping immigrants off en masse. My concern lies in the treatment and bigotry Hispanics are often subject to once here.
Most recently, I was struck by the story of Armando Ojeda-Jimenez, who died in a jail cell in Oconee County after being picked up for public drunkenness. He had a heart condition. The article originally written in the local newspaper exposed his humanness. His sister was quoted in the article as saying, “He’s a real person,” with real people who cared for him. I felt sympathy for this fellow. I felt that his police mugshot was the picture of a broken man. But my sympathy had nothing to do with his legality or what laws he may have broken in the present or past. It had to do with him as a person. For sure, in these increasingly tough economic times, the outcry against illegals may become even greater than before. But I am faced with this reality: regardless of how bad things get in America, many illegal immigrants and many still living in Mexico, live a kind of dire life that we will never know here. For the poor in Mexico, the only answer is escape from a country and from a government that a) is failing to support them, and b) doesn’t seem to care to in the first place. Things are tight around my household like in many, but I don’t blame anyone for it.
After having a column about Jimenez published recently in a local paper, I received a “love” letter, as we call them in the business, from someone in the anti-immigrant camp, complete with an attached article about some illegal who was arrested for rape. The argument, presumably, being: “They are a reckless, lawless lot, and should be sent back to their own country where they can’t hurt Americans or drain our public resources.” First, sending me an article about some wretched illegal immigrant does little to convince me that illegals or Hispanics on the whole, are sub-par and should be treated as such. For sure, many white Americans and black Americans are sub-par and belong behind bars as well. I cite this fellow as one example: http://www.upstatetoday.com/news/2008/sep/26/local-man-accused-raping-girl-hawaii/
So, I don’t understand the source of folks’ fears regarding illegal immigrants. I don’t feel threatened by them, and I certainly don’t think it’s the biggest problem facing this country. Frankly, I don’t care whether they are here or not. The ones who rail so heavily against them prove nothing but their own bigotry, meanwhile inciting fear in those who are either too lazy or ignorant to think through this complex issue for themselves.
We are so incredibly privileged in this country. It’s remarkable to think about. We are on the cusp of the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, and we carry on almost as before, hitting the malls and byways like it’s just an economic hiccup. We still buy up concert and sporting tickets, drive gas-hogging SUVs, find money to eat out and take vacations. Not until our economy or this country implodes will we know the kind of daily struggles that millions of Hispanics face on a daily basis. I argue that we, or anyone born after about 1925, don’t know anything about true economic hardship. So, it’s offensive, to me at least, when people sit in there cozy and free, civil society, mega-nations and denigrate those from other countries seeking to feed their families and find a better life not afforded them in Mexico or whichever country they come from … as if any of us matter more than others. If one feels Americans are the greatest people in the world, reread history or the Bible or whatever source you hold dear. America isn’t the chosen nation. We aren’t the privileged elect of God. We aren’t special. We just are. One of many. Perculiarly, we pride ourselves on being the best in all things, but in humanity, we fail almost on a daily basis.