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Xavier Hermosillo is the President of, a national Crisis Communications, Marketing, and Management firm he founded 23 years ago. He is a former political chief of staff, an award-winning reporter and photographer, and a former radio talk show host and TV commentator in Los Angeles. He has co-founded two publicly-traded companies where he served as a member of the Board of Directors and as the Senior Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications. He has also served as a Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission on police officer discipline cases, and holds degrees in Administration of Justice and Business and Communications. He can be reached at

August 1, 2005

There is a sea change occurring today in how many Americans view the
issue of illegal immigration and you might be surprised at what I am
about to tell you.

I'm not talking about the usual suspects who are more hate monger than
concerned citizen, and who ignore the realities of terrorists entering
the U.S. from Canada because they'd rather argue that Muslims look more
like Mexicans and therefore, the Mexican border is a greater risk.

I am talking about Latinos, almost always legal U.S. residents or
natural-born Americans of Latino ancestry, who are finally standing up
and challenging those who have made a business out of supporting the
growing problem of what we often hear referred to as undocumented
citizens or undocumented workers.

There is a new dichotomy in today's reality about people from other
countries who do not have a legal status in this country. So many
second and third generation Latino youngsters in school today view
newer arrivals as unwanted strangers. They don't speak English well or
at all, many have much darker skin than multi-generational kids whose
lighter skin may be a result of intermarriage with Anglos, or they come
from the poorer indigenous backgrounds where life has been spent
toiling in the sun.

When we hear of so-called racial fights in some schools, the media
never tells you if the trouble was 'brown on brown' in origin, because
most people can't understand or don't want to believe that such a clash
is possible or a regular issue in some schools. It's much easier to
paint dissent as being between Blacks and Browns. It makes more sense
to an ignorant public.

There is another reason many Latinos are speaking up against illegal
immigration and it has to do with frustration over the negative
stereotyping and fallout that hurts American Latinos. This is best
explained by a friend of mine who told me that she was 'sick and tired
of being treated like a wetback just because I look Mexican and speak

She was describing the humiliation of being judged simply by the color
of her skin or the sound of her voice by ignorant people who tend to
react angrily to darker skin and the unfamiliarity of a language. When
a person is attacked because he or she is perceived to be 'part of the
problem' of too many of 'those people' living here, it hurts to be the
victim of people lashing out. Those who believe their traditional way
of life is being ruined by the sweeping entry of an unknown and foreign
culture, resistance is swift and angry, tough often short-lived. It's
easier for the offended to flee for whiter, more comfortable suburbs or
rural areas.

For many Latinos, the desire to stand up for an undocumented worker and
be an activist on their behalf has faded for a number of reasons.
Crime involving gangs from other countries, especially those south of
the U.S., is at an all time high. Hard working Latinos who have gone
through the legal process of becoming citizens resent those who thumb
their nose at the immigration laws (and the border) and essentially are
not waiting their turn to pursue the American dream lawfully.

There are many parts of Los Angeles, for example, where the once clean
streets of formerly white enclaves are now dirty and in some cases,
filthy, with recklessly discarded diapers, beer cans, and trash in
general. It is wrong to suggest that ALL illegal or undocumented folks
are to blame, but the dramatic change in quality of life can be linked
to ethnic and socioeconomic changes over the past 10 to 15 years.

There are bad people in every segment of society, regardless of color.
There are lazy people in every segment of society, regardless of color,
as well. It is as easy to find a clean Latino area in Monterey Park or
El Sereno as it is to find trashy slums in the Rampart area immediately
west of downtown L.A.

While some parts of South L.A. may be classic examples of a ghetto, the
Leimert Park and Ladera Heights areas are pristine examples of how
people will take care of a community that is important to

them and they value what they have.

White, Asian, Indian, Pakistani, Russian, Thai, Cambodian, Vietnamese,
good, solid, respectful, and industrious people will always exude
class, character, and cleanliness. Those who have no investment to
protect, who have no job to pay for anything other than the most basic
of needs, those who simply don't have the extra income to become
property owners and full stakeholders in the American dream, will tend
to not protect or maintain an aura of cleanliness of something that
doesn't belong to them.

And that is why despite the fact people of color are becoming less and
less accepting of those around them who don't live up to higher
standards of living, the real reason for the disparity is more social
and economic than skin color and/or language.

Yet, the growing appetite for division among non-Whites continues to
grow. And the desperate attempts to turn to the likes of the so-called
Minutemen patrol to guard our borders is also misguided.

We are at risk of increased terrorism if we do not control our borders.
It's not about whether those entering the U.S. illegally look like
Muslims or Mexicans, Pakistanis or Puerto Ricans, Wasps or Wahabis.
It's about doing all we can to minimize the chances that the wrong
people will walk through the holes in the fence at the border, carrying
dangerous nuclear or biological terrorist weapons into our back yard.
The people who could eventually die will be of all colors, and will
speak many languages, because that is what L.A., California, and many
parts of the U.S. now represent. We have become the proverbial melting
pot, from L.A. to Louisiana, and from Washington State to Washington DC.

It is for this reason that the notion of a Minuteman Militia or patrol
seems to resonate with some people more than ever, but that is a
shallow and short-term band aid. Most people want real answers ' they
want hard solutions ' and they're tired of hearing the same old chorus
about poor people from other countries looking for work in America.

Activists are quick to hurl accusations of racism against those who
point out that Americans are losing jobs to China, Malaysia, Indonesia,
and yes, Mexico. And now, through CAFTA, the proposed Central American
Free Trade Agreement, more American jobs will be lost to South American
nations. We are bleeding manufacturing jobs in this country. We also
have some lazy White people who don't want to toil in the agricultural
fields, the poultry, beef, and pork slaughter yards, or any other jobs
deemed to be beneath the dignity of American workers.

There will always be employers willing to exploit cheap labor. And
there will always be desperate people willing to work in hazardous or
otherwise ungodly environments, just to be able to put food on the
table and a roof over the heads of their children.

But we must be willing, as a society seeking security and stability, to
confront ALL elements of the issues of protecting our borders,
protecting American jobs while providing an opportunity for those who
will work the jobs no one else will take. And we cannot allow specious
arguments about skin color or language to distort the real concerns of
what we stand to lose in America if we have no ability to control or
protect the precious resources and freedoms that we have worked so hard
to achieve.