Illegal Immigration – A Rant, but Not What You Might Expect

Three days ago I was talking to a friend who doesn’t understand why there is such a huge furor over the existence of so many millions of undocumented/illegal “aliens” in this country.  First, let me say I don’t like the term “alien.”  These aren’t extraterrestrial beings; they are human beings, from planet Earth.  I prefer the term “undocumented immigrants” or “illegal immigrant.”

I’m conflicted about this issue.  My friend believes all borders should be open and anyone who wants to come here and live should be allowed to do that.  That used to be the way it was.  Think Ellis Island.  So many people fleeing oppression in their native lands came here through Ellis Island.  We are a nation comprised of  immigrants.  We call ourselves Americans and we ARE Americans, but we are ALL, every one of us, descended from some nation other than America with the exception of those who were native to this country when it was taken over by Europeans.

I’m not sure how I feel about the estimated 13 million undocumented workers in this country. Should we naturalize all of them and allow them to become citizens, thereby being part of our tax base? Wait, though.  Most of them would not become part of the tax base.  I’ll talk about that in a bit.

How do they get here if our borders are so well-guarded?   Here’s how it works:  There is a network of LEGAL central and south American workers who came over years ago.  Others did for them what they do for the undocumented now.  They found work, usually at lower wages than American citizens would accept, and usually doing work that has traditionally been delegated for migrant workers.  These individuals do not infuse our economy with their hard-earned (and they ARE hard-earned) dollars. They live 20-30 in a tiny home, usually owned or rented by someone who is legal.  They send almost all their earnings back to their native country to support their families.

Usually one will come, and establish him or herself through a network of “safe houses.”  That person will find work through a network of sympathetic citizens and non-citizens who know the companies that will hire those who are undocumented, even though it is illegal in this country to do so.   The individual lives in this country, illegally, working illegally, being housed and supported illegally, while saving until enough money has been saved to pay herders in Mexico to get the rest of his family and/or friends to, and across, the American border, avoiding Arizona at all costs.  The families come here and are sent through the network of safe houses so they can meet up with their family member who has been working here.

America has long been held as the shining beacon of hope for oppressed citizens of other countries, and in particular, those countries in Central and south America.  There are two levels of society in those countries, rich and poverty.  The majority of the people who come here illegally live at a level of poverty that we wouldn’t recognize unless we went to places in Appalachia or the back woods of Maine, or even just downtown to the worst slums in our inner cities.  I understand why they want to come here.  I understand how they cling to their stories that America is paved with streets of gold.  Hope springs eternal.  It is part of the human condition.  Without hope, we die.

Here’s my conundrum:  My heart and conscience feels obligated to help others with less than I have, regardless who they are.  My common sense says that’s impractical.  I am one of America’s 10% unemployed.  On unemployment, I make “too much” to qualify for other services, such as food stamps, medicaid, welfare, etc.  Unemployment leaves me $77 to eat monthly unless I opt to short-pay a bill each month.

I rely on the taxes I paid into the system ALREADY to support me now, in a time of need. I don’t make ends meet.

I can’t find work.  I’ve been unemployed for 8 months and still cannot find permanent full-time work that will allow me to come off unemployment.  I’m at an age where I cannot do the backbreaking work that undocumented workers do.  Still, there are many who are much younger than I am who CAN do this work.

America is at a crossroads.  We are unable to employ and feed our own, yet we have non-citizens streaming across our borders, being aided by citizens and non-citizens, alike, who are sending money out of the country that could be plowed back into our economy, and that money is being used to bring even more non-citizens to this country who become a burden upon our economy.  Their sheer numbers have created a climate that provides less-than-ethical companies (okay, most of Corporate America is less-than-ethical) to hire workers at a wage that is much lower than the mandated minimum wage for American citizens.  That wage is not a living wage for Americans, but for undocumented workers, who will live 20-30 people to a 5 room house, it’s more than enough to provide food, clothing, and shelter.

I just watched a show entitled “This (Illegal) American Life.”  If it’s illegal, it’s not American.  The reporter on the show interviewed a girl getting ready to graduate from UCLA.  Her father came here first, got work and sent his money out of the country to his wife. When enough was saved, his wife, his three year old (now graduating from UCLA), one-year old and unborn daughters came across the border, came through the network of safe-houses and joined him.  All but the unborn member of the family are still undocumented.  They are all still illegal.

I know why the father came here.  I know why he sent for his family.  But here is his family, one a citizen because she was BORN here, thus, can get a license, a social security number, a birth certificate.  She is enrolled, legally, in a local high school.

His eldest daughter was three years old when she came here, in the trunk of a car, with her pregnant mother and her one-year-old sister.  This daughter lives in a quasi-dormitory set up specifically for undocumented students at UCLA. This girl managed to illegally attend high school in America, has a job as an undocumented worker, and attended UCLA as an undocumented resident of this country.  How?

She stated she could not get student loans, and it was also stated that those who can’t afford to continue their education will take a semester off to work (illegally) for their college tuition, and will go back to school the next semester.  This girl runs a program for undocumented high school students, mentoring them.  Mentoring them, HOW?  How to beat the AMERICAN system?  She was shown teaching one undocumented resident how to write a good resume.  That implies that someone is going to hire this student.  Illegally. It also implies that one more American who is unemployed, and who would welcome a minimum-wage job, won’t get that job because an illegal and undocumented high school student will take that job for a wage lower than the federally mandated minimum wage.

I understand that ALL these people want a better life.  What about our OWN poverty-stricken?  Don’t they deserve a better life?  Are they not willing to work?  I’m not talking about welfare moms who work the system (and I’m not saying that ALL welfare moms do this).

I’m talking about those (and I know quite a few) who are willing and able to work, AT ANY JOB, but can’t get one because their lack of education – citizens of this country, with a lack of education, yet an undocumented can go to UCLA) – leaves them few options but to attempt to find work at the same companies that are hiring undocumented workers for dollars less per hour than minimum wage.

As long as there are companies willing to hire undocumented workers at a wage lower than the federally mandated minimum wage, America will continue to be flooded with immigrants who place a burden on our society in a way THEY can’t see, thus deny, as this young girl did.

She says she gets angry when she hears people protest at the presence of undocumented workers in this country, taking jobs from legal Americans.  She doesn’t see how this can place a burden on our economy, and she’s getting ready to graduate from UCLA.

Let me see if I can put this plainly to her:  Your father came here illegally.  He is still illegal.  He was helped through a network of safe houses and people who found him illegal work.  He sent his money back to your mother, in Mexico until there was enough money for the rest of you to come here.  

You came.  You lived in a small house with many other families and friends, all illegal.  You took work for pay that was considered illegal in this country, thus putting LEGAL AMERICAN CITIZENS at a disadvantage, and leaving them to live in poverty.  

In doing this, you created a tax burden the likes of which this country has never seen, but you can’t see how your presence here, your PRIVILEGED EDUCATION as and ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT may have caused a true American to be unable to feed his or her own family????  How big of a 2X4 do you need to hit you in the head?  What are they teaching you at UCLA that you don’t understand this very simple equation? 

This young lady and her family do not pay taxes.  They do not live as Americans. They live as illegal immigrants, and they enjoy all the comforts of this country, which is more than most truly poverty-stricken American CITIZENS can enjoy.

I’m 50 years old and I have never been able to finish my college education.  I raised a child by myself, always working full time, always making “too much” to qualify for social services.  At 50, I am unemployed, living on a little more than $8 an hour (which is the max unemployment will pay), I do not qualify for food stamps or any other government-run social programs.

My family is too busy taking care of their own families and do not have the money to help me.  My son, who is 22, can’t qualify for Pell grants because he lives with his dad, who can claim him as a dependent on his income taxes.  My son can’t afford to live on his own, either. He could certainly qualify for student loans, but then he’d have to pay them back, IF he could find work once out of college.

The young lady I speak to in this post enjoyed a full college education because her ILLEGAL family and friends worked together, pooled their money, and helped send her to college.  She will be expected to help in the same fashion when it comes time for her illegal sister to go to college.  This young lady’s money will go to support herself, but it will also go to support her illegal family and friends, and much of that money will, in all probability, be sent OUT OF THIS COUNTRY to bring in more illegals.

Her legal sister, who was born here, will qualify for all kinds of social services, grants, etc.  All the daughters of this family a fashionable mode, and the eldest daughter obviously has the money to get her hair and nails done and has the money to purchase cosmetics and skin-care products.  Find me a poverty-stricken family in Appalachia or in the back woods of Maine who can do that.  I can’t do that.  At 50, I cut my own hair because I can’t afford even the $20 to go to a Hair Cuttery.

Some of the hardships I experienced were due to cultural differences between America and other cultures.  In America, families don’t support one another the way they do in other countries.  Mexico is a good example.  Mexicans are used to sharing  – they are used to living in small homes with lots of people, and the most poverty-stricken Mexicans live in squalor – in conditions that mirror those of Appalachian poverty.  When they come here, they continue to live in large communities, creating their own small societies wherever they go, each person contributing to the welfare of the entire group, if possible.   They build families with children born here, mostly deliberate, so they will not be deported.  If a child is a citizen and the parents are not citizens, the odds are good the parents are not going to be deported.  Instead, our tax dollars will go toward creating a legal status for the illegal parents.

So do I believe all illegal immigrants should be deported? No.  I believe there needs to be a huge social overhaul of our nation.  I believe that the “at-will” law that many of our states have for employment should be stricken from the books.  I believe that we need to facilitate education that teaches US how to take care of each other.  Yes, this will lead to a lower standard of living for SOME, but for the most part, it will level the playing field.  I do not advocate poverty for anyone, but I agree that those who HAVE, should shoulder a greater portion of the responsibility for making certain those citizens of their country can live at a level that provides stability.  Currently, our middle and upper-classes live to excess and many live beyond their means.

Our economy isn’t in the toilet just because if illegal immigration.  We must accept our own culpability for creating this situation.  We must rid ourselves of the sense of entitlement that tells us we have a RIGHT to use up 25% of the fossil fuel supply of our planet, that says we have a RIGHT to drive the biggest, shiniest, most ecologically abusive vehicles, that says we have a RIGHT to wear expensive designer clothing, run credit cards to the maximum and not pay the bills and default on our other obligations.

We must lose the image-consciousness that bleeds across our borders and is translated to “America: Our Streets Are Paved With Gold.”  They are not paved with gold and the sad thing is that many of these immigrants come here and are faced with that cold, hard fact.  They see media-generated images and believe that is what America is.  America is fast becoming a nation of lost values.

Do I wish hardship and poverty on  illegals? Absolutely not.  I believe, however, that it is incumbent upon us to take care of our own, first.  I believe it should be somehow MANDATED that we do this.  I don’t know how that can be done without violating our constitution. I don’t have any of the answers.  Do you?

 

7 thoughts on “Illegal Immigration – A Rant, but Not What You Might Expect

  1. Hey Ms C~

    I’m in the same boat as you right about now. My shop closed, so I lost my job & less than a week later, totaled my car. So, am now unemployed (also at 50), car-less, & injured. Here in AU, there is no unemployment for me for 13 weeks- because I saved a bit of money to be used for my son going to uni here next year. Yep- because I scrimped & saved for him, I am penalized…go figure?

    As far as the illegals go- the fix has always been an easy one to me: go after the ones hiring them. It would be easier than watching the borders. Start cracking down on the employers. Eventually, there would be no work to be had…and so no reason to risk life & limb to get here.

    • Trace – I’m sorry! I’m glad you’re okay from totaling your car, though! A car can be replace, YOU cannot! Here, we get unemployment even if we have savings, but the unemployment is so low that I had to go through all my savings just to live and now I’m living week-to-week with whatever contract work i can get.

      No one wants to hire me – I’m 50, which means I’m not considered “corporate malleable” and 25 years experience in IT means I can command more money than a kid straight out of college, so they hire the kid straight out of college. I’m tracking the jobs I apply for now. I want to see how many times an individual 25 years younger than I am, with the same qualifications, is hired for the jobs I applied for.

      I’ve heard from a LOT of people my age that they are encountering the same things. It’s hard to track because you have to have a good network of people who know people. You can’t get the info just by calling the company and saying “how old was the person hired for thus and such job?” LOL

      I’m with you on going after the ones hiring illegals. I totally understand why someone believes they can find a better life for themselves and their family in this country. The truth of it is that even at our poverty level, which is $13K/annum for one person, they CAN find a better life here, particularly if there are 30 of them living in the same home, pooling their money.

      I’m told, and my research supports, that illegals will accept anywhere from $3 to $5 USD per hour to work. When you have 20-30 of them in one home, with an average of 20 of them being of working age, that’s an average household income of $166,440 per annum that’s not being taxed and most of which is being sent out of the country.

      While I want people to have better lives, and I do NOT “hate” illegals, I believe it is incumbent upon our country to sniff out those who are employing the illegals, gather up the illegals, assess their situations on a case-by-case level, as some of them, if deported will be executed for political “crimes” and send those who do not have a truly legitimate need back to their own countries. That said, it’s hard to assess a “truly legitimate need.” Who provides the criteria for it? Certainly not the governor of Arizona! Certainly not Sarah Palin!

      If I thought I could find a better life for myself and my family in another country and knew I could enter illegally, live there and work there illegally, and do both at a level higher than I am used to, would I do it? You bet I would, if it meant the survival of my family, an education for my kids, and that none of my kids would die of childhood diseases that are easily treatable and cured in that country. So I get it – totally.

      The problem is that America is in crisis right now. We can’t take care of our own, and we are bleeding tax dollars in unemployment to AMERICANS who could be working jobs that illegals are working at a wage lower than our federally mandated minimum. Our minimum wage is below $8 an hour, but if you work full time and a part time job, or you have two parents working full time and another working part time, and a work-age child working, then you can gather in enough to keep your family sheltered, fed and clothed. There will be no luxuries, but you WILL qualify for foodstamps, Medicaid, etc.

      So I say to any illegal who is working here illegally: Either come forward and attempt to make yourself legal, or go home. You are contributing to breaking the back of America right now. Illegals take jobs at lower wages, and those employers who employ them don’t have to pay benefits for them, they’ve found a way to deduct the cost of the wages by shifty bookkeeping, and they don’t pay employment or social security taxes on the illegals. Why would they create jobs for LEGAL CITIZENS when they can get away with all the aforesaid by hiring illegals?

      There are some illegals who DO need to be deported, immediately. Those who are discovered and whose backgrounds have been checked to the best of this country’s ability, and found to be undesirable (i.e. – criminal) should be shipped back in the blink of an eye.

      By criminal, I mean crimes against humanity, not crimes against an oppressive government. Not too long ago, where I live, a family driving on a major highway was hit by an illegal who was driving a car that was not his, and who was drunk. I don’t know all the details of it, but there were deaths involved and one child was so seriously injured as to need extensive multiple surgeries, is confined to a wheelchair and will need expensive medical care for the rest of his life.

      This happens all over our country.

      Yes, I feel compassion for those living in other countries who cannot properly care for their families regardless how hard they work. I want to help them in whatever way I can. Right now, though, I am not in a position to give money to charities that WILL help, and I’m in that position partly because there are so many illegals already here, taking jobs from legal Americans.

      America needs a huge social overhaul. Corporations should be regulated with regard to outsourcing jobs. Why is it okay for those at the top to make millions and have golden parachutes, while they send the jobs that could employ someone like me, overseas?

      There is only one company I’ve heard about who is doing the RIGHT thing for its employees. That’s my brother’s company. My brother has not drawn a paycheck for 2 years so that he is able to pay his crew, and pay their health benefits. He feels, as owner of the company, that it is his responsibility to make certain these 15 people, who have worked for him for 16 years (one of them his son), are able to feed, clothe, shelter and have healthcare for their families. In order for my brother to meet his own obligations (child support, mortgage, etc.) he has drawn on his savings, and when savings were gone, he tapped his retirement.

      He sacrificed so that he would not have to lay off even ONE of his crew. NOT ONE. If every corporate bigwig in America would do that, even for one year, we might be able to turn this country around, economically. That’s wishful thinking. There is too much greed and selfishness in America.

      What happened with all that bailout money Obama provided? Not a damned thing. No jobs were created. The corporate entities who received it continued to lay off people. They took the money, shored up their failing finances, and invested the rest. One company even gave the money back, because they didn’t want the government to have any control of their operations.

      George W Bush drilled holes in the bottom of this ship. Barack Obama attempted to furiously bail as the water came rushing in, but he used buckets with holes in them. I don’t like big government at all – but in this situation it is time for the government to step in and FORCE major corporations to cap salaries for executives, mandate a reasonable maximum for bonuses and golden parachutes and demand that those who have more than the mandated maximum plow that money into job creation.

      It doesn’t have to be permanent – but it certainly is time for the government to step in with a HUGE stop-gap measure to ensure we STAY “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” The problem with this is that Corporate America OWNS our government.

      This has long since ceased to be a political issue. It is a ballooning social issue and that balloon is going to pop soon. We are a country with 10% unemployment. If it weren’t so sad I’d laugh whenever I hear a government official or a news caster say “…while unemployment remains at more than 9%…” They are afraid to say 10% because that takes us to double digits. They are living in a fairy tale.

      Our unemployment is MORE than 10% because there are many who no longer qualify for unemployment benefits, and who are still unemployed, have lost everything and have moved in with friends, family, etc., thus placing an even larger burden on those who are sacrificing to help them.

      And we still have a stream of illegals coming into this country daily, making their way through a network of safe houses, being directed to those who will employ them for paltry pay, and who are putting most of their money in their local “illegal community” fund so that they can send that money out of this ailing nation, back to their native land, so more illegals can come in.

      And our government sits around on its fat ass and does nothing about it. Swift consequences are needed. For those companies found with illegals working, there should be a mandate that they replace each illegal with a legal American who is unemployed, and pay that American at least the federally mandated minimum wage. They should then be investigated for tax fraud, and be forced to pay the taxes they’ve evaded. THEY SHOULD NOT BE SHUT DOWN because to do so is counter productive to the goal of job creation.

      What does our government do? They decide to tax the rich, thinking that will help provide money to create more jobs. HUH? How stupid do they think we are? How stupid are THEY??? The rich, when faced with more taxes, get nervous and start laying people off. They start hoarding their money. They start sending it out of the country to places where the money can’t be traced or taxed. They create the illusion of making less than they are making.

      Taxing the rich, or ANYONE will not create jobs UNLESS there is a joint mandate for temporary regulation of executive salaries and bonuses, and a mandate that each corporate entity in this country that meets a size criterion, creates a certain number of new jobs each year, and then is reviewed for the creation and filling of those positions.

      There needs to be a clearly stated mandate to insurance companies that they may not raise insurance costs to these companies, and that they must continue providing the benefits they currently provide for each worker. Companies should be reviewed regularly to see how and with whom they are staffing these positions. I’m not saying these should be permanent measures but extreme economic crisis calls for extreme measures. If Corporate America won’t step up and be socially responsible by themselves (and since they are usually run by narcissists, they won’t) they MUST be FORCED into it.

      They must be forced to allow unions, at least temporarily. We need our unions now more than we have since the Great Depression. They call this the Great Recession, but only because they are afraid to call it a Depression.

      Those who have are not legally obligated to help those who don’t have. They ARE morally obligated, IMHO.

      It’s been proved that the “best” corporate CEOs are narcissists. They are self-serving, they are manipulative, dishonest, and if you’ve ever worked in Corporate America, you’d recognize the corporate narcissistic gaslighting that goes on. It trickles down. Those at the top usually stay at the top and if they don’t, the are “respectfully” asked to leave and handed millions in compensation.

      Those at the bottom are simply fired. “Laid off” or “downsized” are politically correct terms for FIRED. Those at the bottom are FIRED, usually with very little or NO compensation. They’re cut loose – “So long, see ya, sorry, can’t help you, gotta pay out some more golden parachutes so you get nothing, sucker!”

      They’re cut loose with no notice – no time to look for a new job. I worked for a company who continually told its 500 local employees that everything was fine, their jobs weren’t in danger, that they shouldn’t worry, that they were needed and would not be “downsized” even though this company was firing people left and right nationwide. Some of us saw it for what it was and found new jobs in the nick of time.

      Others, mostly the ones who had worked there for 10-30 years and had never experienced the truth of Corporate America, refused to believe that this company, to which they’d given their lives and loyalty, would come in and in one day, FIRE 423 people, all at once, and give them NOTHING but an armed escort out the front door.

      ONE person in that local office was taken care of and that happened only because her husband was on total disability due to a car accident, and his wife (who was my boss) was the sole support of the family which included two teenagers. If they had cut her loose with nothing and with a COBRA “offering” that would have cost her almost $1,000 a month, they knew they’d be headed for a major lawsuit. So she was given two years salary, and 5 years of health insurance at no cost to her. They figured her husband would die before the 5 years was up. He didn’t die.

      After more than 30 years of marriage, this woman had to divorce her husband so she could get health care for him – so she could turn his care over to the state, because after she was cut loose, she managed to find a new job, at a greatly reduce salary, and she stashed her two years salary from her old company. Her new company would not allow her to add her husband to the insurance policy because of “pre-existing” conditions. So she was forced to divorce him so he could get the health care and medication that kept him alive.

      Welcome to America as it is today. We need reform, badly.

  2. Yeah, losing your job & crashing your car in the same week is pretty ridiculous…I also had (have) a GF visiting from Canada- lol…Luckily, had friends who went away on a holiday when she arrived & I had use of their car for the first ten days. Now, we’re using bus/train to get around. I know I need transportation, but want to wait till the injuries are better. Trust me- I know I’m lucky to have walked away from that accident- and that my kids weren’t in the car. Things will be all right- I’m fortunate to have saved all of my life (& on min. wage a lot of the time, it wasn’t easy)- and this is what that’s for, I guess?

    I’m also IT (self-taught) & my work here has been in IT sales, for the most part. I’m considering starting a home-biz of repairs, etc…as the only work I’ve seen lately involves standing for the shift- and I just can’t handle that any more. I don’t mind sales, I’m good at it- just not the standing for 8 hours & the weekend/late shifts.

    You’re correct about the “fat-cats” in big business- problem is they have their hooks into the politicos pretty deep. Don’t forget the massive golden parachutes currently afforded to the elected officials, as well. Lifetime pay & they never have to worry about their social security running out, do they? Yeesh!

    Eventually, there will be another revolution…

    • Something will give, Tracy, and it’s not going to be pretty when it does. “Government OF the people BY the people FOR the people…” —Abraham Lincoln: Gettysburg Address. Currently the status quo is government of the people by huge corporate entities whose money pays lobbyists and controls legislation and it sure ain’t for the “people.” Far as I know, I’m a “people.” I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. I think, too, that the 10% plus who are unemployed in this country are “people,” too. I see nothing happening here that is “of the people, by the people and FOR the people.” We get bones thrown to us every now and then, and politicos bank (literally) on the fact that the average voting American gets their news from television. That’s a sure way to make certain the REAL issues are deflected. Media spin is the most valuable tool a politician has.

      Honesty, integrity and compassion are not traits you’ll find in too many politicians and they each have a self-serving agenda.

      If I had the means to do it, I’d go live in a cabin on a mountain, away from the madding crowd. And now I’m off to bed. 🙂

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