An American’s Opinion
August 2, 2010
The debate over Arizona’s new immigration law makes my blood boil. As I drive down Hollister’s highway 25 in the heat of the summer and see field workers picking strawberries, peppers, or lettuce I think, “God bless those people. I know that I would not want to do that job.”
I discussed the illegal immigrant situation with a local farmer and his comments verified that my view is not unique. In a county with an unemployment rate of 22% there are no Caucasians lining up for a job picking lettuce. He told me that even when a farmer tries hard to play by the rules there are some well forged documents that illegal immigrants use to beat the system. The question he has been asking legislators and can’t seem to get an answer to is this, “If the farmers are collecting Social Security, Medicare and all of the appropriate taxes from the illegal immigrant’s pay check and depositing them with the proper authorities where is that money going?” No one seems to be able to answer his question and it’s something to think about.
Why can’t there be some kind of visa that allows these workers to be here legally? In an effort to understand both sides of the debate I decided to do a little research on the subject. My internet search left me a little disturbed. I came across the H1B Visa which covers “specialty occupations”. Picking fruits and vegetables was not listed as one of the occupations. The other program the H2B visa is for workers who want to temporarily live in the US in order to work a seasonal job. The program stipulates that it does not cover agricultural jobs. The next option available is the H-2A a temporary agricultural program which is a means for farmers to bring nonimmigrant workers into the country when a shortage of domestic workers is anticipated. Once again it is a temporary visa so workers who have lived and worked here for years would not benefit from it. The only real option for an immigrant that wants to live and work here for an extended period of time is to obtain a green card, a long and drawn out process.
A Google search of the Guest Worker Program proved to be educational and at the same time disappointing. Proponents of the program will tell you that it gives employers the opportunity to fill positions using foreign immigrants when qualified Americans can not be found to do the job. Ask any farmer how many qualified Americans are lining up for their job opportunities and they will tell you that without the immigrants that come here to work America would go hungry. Opponents of the Guest Worker Program say that it is riddled with red tape that leaves employers and workers frustrated. Some believe that workers in the program are left vulnerable. Of all the steps in the process none is more open to abuse than the recruiting of workers back in their own countries, something America’s judicial system is unable to police. The Farm Labor Organizing Committee is one union that represents workers and recruits and does the job cleanly. But many freelance agents who work with recruiters and employers are not as principled. They have been known to lure peasants with false promises about what they can earn, charging them as much as $2000.00 to get on a recruiters list for US positions, something akin to human trafficking.
A visiting worker program will have its difficulties but we need to come up with something. No plan will work unless we stop immigrants from coming here illegally. Just sending them back home has never served as a deterrent. How can we expect to dissuade illegal behavior without seeing to it that there is a price to pay for the offences? How many of us would even consider breaking the law in Mexico or any other foreign country. I’ve heard horror stories and seen movies about Americans getting caught breaking the law outside of the United States. Offenders don’t get a slap on the wrist and get sent back home. If they aren’t rich or connected a person can just disappear. America has taken tolerance way to far. If you are here illegally I would suggest not breaking the law. If you do you should be deported. And what the heck is wrong with checking a persons documents when they are caught breaking the law. If I do something out of line in a foreign country I’m sure law enforcement officers there will want to see my passport.
Immigrants that came here in the early 1900’s stood in long lines on Ellis Island and other ports of entry for hours and were subjected to physical and legal scrutiny before they were allowed to begin their new lives in America. Many of them kissed the ground and rejoiced at the opportunity for a better life. They learned to speak English and were proud to become American. They pledged to uphold our laws and support our country in every way possible. They waved goodbye to their birth places to give their families a better way of life. They worked hard and did not expect any hand outs. There was no welfare and medi-cal for them. They would never have considered waving their countries flag in our faces while asking for rights as a citizen here. Can you even imagine Americans demonstrating and waving our flag in Mexico City because we didn’t like the laws they made to keep their country safe? Our country is the only one that I know of that makes any baby born here a citizen automatically even if neither parent is here legally. How is it possible that a person that isn’t even an American citizen can collect welfare for their child just because they gave birth to it here. If I gave birth to a child in France would it automatically be French, or Mexico, Mexican. The system is broken and it’s costing us billions of dollars.
This craziness has to stop. Nearly half of illegal immigrants enter the United States through the Arizona/Mexico corridor. Our federal government has not devoted the necessary resources to deal with this problem and escalating violence and increased numbers of illegal immigrants has been the result. Our president who has offered no assistance to Arizona had the audacity to say that Arizona’s immigration law threatens to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans. How about this for fairness? If a high school student wants to wear a shirt with our country’s flag on it to show the pride he takes in being an American he should not be asked by the vice principle to turn it inside out or go home. A middle school student that draws a picture of a flag with God Bless America written on it should not be told by her teacher that it is offensive. This is our country and it’s our flag. If people don’t like it they should move to their counties and wave their flags. Would a child in Mexico be told that he can not wear a shirt with a Mexican flag on it on Fourth of July? Heck no! Only in America are our children being told that pride for their country is a bad thing. It’s time for Americans to stand up and be heard. We have the right to honor our heritage and our flag. Our country was founded by people of many different ethnic backgrounds but they called themselves Americans and were proud of it. If people want to live in our country they should abide by our rules, learn our language and respect the rights that our immigrant fore fathers fought for.