August 1, 2005
There is a sea change occurring today in how many Americans
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
concerned citizen, and who ignore the realities of terrorists
the U.S. from Canada because they'd rather argue that Muslims
like Mexicans and therefore, the Mexican border is a greater
I am talking about Latinos, almost always legal U.S. residents
natural-born Americans of Latino ancestry, who are finally
and challenging those who have made a business out of supporting
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
countries who do not have a legal status in this country.
second and third generation Latino youngsters in school today
newer arrivals as unwanted strangers. They don't speak English
at all, many have much darker skin than multi-generational
lighter skin may be a result of intermarriage with Anglos,
or they come
from the poorer indigenous backgrounds where life has been
toiling in the sun.
When we hear of so-called racial fights in some schools,
never tells you if the trouble was 'brown on brown' in origin,
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
paint dissent as being between Blacks and Browns. It makes
to an ignorant public.
There is another reason many Latinos are speaking up against
immigration and it has to do with frustration over the negative
stereotyping and fallout that hurts American Latinos. This
explained by a friend of mine who told me that she was 'sick
of being treated like a wetback just because I look Mexican
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
react angrily to darker skin and the unfamiliarity of a language.
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
of life is being ruined by the sweeping entry of an unknown
culture, resistance is swift and angry, tough often short-lived.
easier for the offended to flee for whiter, more comfortable
For many Latinos, the desire to stand up for an undocumented
be an activist on their behalf has faded for a number of reasons.
Crime involving gangs from other countries, especially those
the U.S., is at an all time high. Hard working Latinos who
through the legal process of becoming citizens resent those
their nose at the immigration laws (and the border) and essentially
not waiting their turn to pursue the American dream lawfully.
There are many parts of Los Angeles, for example, where the
streets of formerly white enclaves are now dirty and in some
filthy, with recklessly discarded diapers, beer cans, and
general. It is wrong to suggest that ALL illegal or undocumented
are to blame, but the dramatic change in quality of life can
to ethnic and socioeconomic changes over the past 10 to 15
There are bad people in every segment of society, regardless
There are lazy people in every segment of society, regardless
as well. It is as easy to find a clean Latino area in Monterey
El Sereno as it is to find trashy slums in the Rampart area
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
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,
good, solid, respectful, and industrious people will always
class, character, and cleanliness. Those who have no investment
protect, who have no job to pay for anything other than the
of needs, those who simply don't have the extra income to
property owners and full stakeholders in the American dream,
to not protect or maintain an aura of cleanliness of something
doesn't belong to them.
And that is why despite the fact people of color are becoming
less accepting of those around them who don't live up to higher
standards of living, the real reason for the disparity is
and economic than skin color and/or language.
Yet, the growing appetite for division among non-Whites continues
grow. And the desperate attempts to turn to the likes of the
Minutemen patrol to guard our borders is also misguided.
We are at risk of increased terrorism if we do not control
It's not about whether those entering the U.S. illegally look
Muslims or Mexicans, Pakistanis or Puerto Ricans, Wasps or
It's about doing all we can to minimize the chances that the
people will walk through the holes in the fence at the border,
dangerous nuclear or biological terrorist weapons into our
The people who could eventually die will be of all colors,
speak many languages, because that is what L.A., California,
parts of the U.S. now represent. We have become the proverbial
pot, from L.A. to Louisiana, and from Washington State to
It is for this reason that the notion of a Minuteman Militia
seems to resonate with some people more than ever, but that
shallow and short-term band aid. Most people want real answers
want hard solutions ' and they're tired of hearing the same
about poor people from other countries looking for work in
Activists are quick to hurl accusations of racism against
point out that Americans are losing jobs to China, Malaysia,
and yes, Mexico. And now, through CAFTA, the proposed Central
Free Trade Agreement, more American jobs will be lost to South
nations. We are bleeding manufacturing jobs in this country.
have some lazy White people who don't want to toil in the
fields, the poultry, beef, and pork slaughter yards, or any
deemed to be beneath the dignity of American workers.
There will always be employers willing to exploit cheap labor.
there will always be desperate people willing to work in hazardous
otherwise ungodly environments, just to be able to put food
table and a roof over the heads of their children.
But we must be willing, as a society seeking security and
confront ALL elements of the issues of protecting our borders,
protecting American jobs while providing an opportunity for
will work the jobs no one else will take. And we cannot allow
arguments about skin color or language to distort the real
what we stand to lose in America if we have no ability to
protect the precious resources and freedoms that we have worked