Wednesday, February 01, 2006

X-Men And The Aliens

Little did I know that Sundy as I started my shift, I would be visited by one of my favorite comic book characters. Wolverine came in ... or a reasonable facsimile. Squat and powerful, I could easily see this female version easily shredding through a bag of Funions as easily as a hot knife through butter. Watching her rummage through her fake Louis Vitton bag, I witnessed an exercise in futility. At least Wolverine's claws were retractable, which would be an assett given the task at hand. Despite her probable superhuman strength she could muster vs. a Whopper Value Meal, I think I'll stick to the X-Men for inspiration.

Now, Time magazine has a cover story about immigration. This is such a touchy subject for Americans right now. Most Americans feel immigration is a serious problem and I agree but for different reasons than the alarmists. I feel the problem is that many of these aliens probably get a raw deal with working with no benefits, especially when they're working for a huge corporation like Tyson or a poultry farm. The alarmists tend to argue that the immigrants are taking jobs away from Americans. I think they're taking jobs no one wants to do. How many Americans are lining up to shovel shit out of chicken coops or remove the innards of cattle in a rendering plant? Probably not too many.

It's a fundamentally easy issue: if companies would'nt hire illegals, then they wouldn't come in such numbers. But let's be honest, we see them working fast food, construction, landscaping, and in the fields. Trust me, I'm frustrated when I have a Jurist Doctorate unable to find work and pulling up next to me is some guy from Chihuahua with a sweet $20,000 F-150. BUT I know that when I score my next job, I'll have benefits like insurance. AND he is probably doing work that I honestly would never consider doing. This guy in next to me at the light won't collect Social Security that he has paid into (and if he hasn't, then his employer is paying him under the table and that is illegal and a main reason why so many come here in the first place ... employment that bypasses the legal process).

Anti-immigrationists say that illegals are a drain on public services. They'll often cite the fact that illegals will use emergency rooms because they don't have health insurance and can't be refused treatment (not necessarily true but we'll assume it to be true). Immigration proponents will say that illegals pay way more into the government services than they will ever collect (again, not necessarily true since many of these illegals get paid in cash with no taxes being taken out). As with most things, the truth lies somewhere in between.

My mother is an immigrant. She emigrated with my grandparents when she was only 3. Now before any right wingers decide to call Nazi security ... err, um .. Homeland Security, my grandparents emigrated legally. They luckily learned to speak English because of folks at their Catholic parish who took the time to work with them. Which is another point: I think that if you intend to reside in a place for more than a vacation, you should learn enough of the language to interact. The problem is that there aren't many public services that assist these folks. I volunteered at a literacy project back in Ohio which had immigrants who wanted to learn English. The list of immigrants waiting for a tutor was staggering. Easily over 200 and waiting for over a year. They were so anxious to learn, so anxious to fit into American society, so anxious to become American in some sense. We definitely need more programs for these people. In the interim, we should provide ballots, public documents in every possible language. WHY? Because the right to vote is so key, so fundamental to a democracy, that a citizen should be able to make an informed decision and if they need to read a ballot in their native language to be informed, so be it.

This is truly America's strength: It's diversity. We're not all of the same mindset. We're all different. During law school, Bono came by to talk about debt relief in Africa. He made a comment about what America is that will forever be with me. He said "America is an idea." He is so right. It is an idea, a belief that we will take people from every corner in the world and give them the opportunity to succeed. I'm not saying to assimilate so much so that you give up your culture and ethnic identity. Please don't!! What is more American than a neighborhood where you'll see a Thai restaurant next to a Chinese grocer across the street from an Italian deli where the Irish pub owner eats lunch with his Mexican friend?? Now that is truly what America is about.

17 comments:

jennifer said...

very thoughtful commentary. i really enjoyed hearing your perspective.
@>-->>---

A. Estella Sassypants said...

Amen to everything. The Devil's got it riiight!

And the Wolverine thing cracked me up, but I was going for a comment on the thoughtful part this time since I seem to chime in on the funny stuff only. Very thoughtful! Very fabulous!

DCNats said...

I agree totally with what you say... the issue that reallt gets to me is the language aspect.
The complaint I always hear the most, at least from people in my area, is "I just wish they would learn to speak English... We're in America."
Well guess what, THEY just wish they could learn to speak English as well... I've known and do know A LOT of people who have come here within the last 5 years and every single one of them WANTS to learn English. And they buy the stupid tapes and the books and they do all that, but it's not so easy. They don't have the time or money to go to school to learn, and they're often ashamed to use their broken english... So they never really get to improve. But not because they don't have the desire.
It's just like you say- they're anxious to learn and become a part of this country but have nowhere to turn.

unforgiving b*tch said...

I agree with you...

I currently help out with an ESL program here at the college...and yes there are tons of people. I try to do what I an outside of work, but it's hard when there are so many people who want to learn English, yet so many people who are unwilling to volunteer their time to teach it.

sonrisa morena said...

damn!!! i don't like reading things like this and not being the first to comment becuase by time i get to it, everybody pretty much has said what i wanted to say!! anywho, i definetly agree with you. i used to volunteer for an ESL workshop and let me tell the amount of people we used to get there was overwhelming!!! AND we didn't have enough volunteers!!!

sonrisa morena said...

oh yeah, and those are some scary fingernails!!!!

deeesguy said...

Devil, while I agree with everything you've put forward in your always elegant prose, my hatred for you has nonetheless been rekindled as you have reminded me that you got to see Bono in class whereas I went home that fateful day.

jennifer said...

deeesguy -
that sucks.

sounds like you guys have boy crushes on bono.
i don't blame you. he's hot. even though he's getting old.
way hot.

NML said...

We have exactly the same issues here. The very jobs that people moan about immigrants doing are the very jobs that we can't fill for love nor money with citizens. Comapnies are happy to hire immigrants because they can take the mick with how they treat them and not have to play by the rules that they would normally have to. More profits, less hassle. It's different though in the US because I think that what is often forgotten is that America is a nation of immigrants or ex ones. Everyone had a relative that emigrated to the US in search of prosperity and a better life.It's what makes your country so diverse and the place that it is. Great post Cincy :-)

Cincysundevil said...

Jen-
Thank ya kindly!

Cincysundevil said...

Andi-
Hey, I'm just glad someone finds me funny and not just funny looking!

Cincysundevil said...

Dcnats-
So true; it would be great if we had more programs out there to help newly arrived immigrants learn English. The issue isn't one of not wanting to learn, rather it's an issue of not having the opportunities to learn.

Cincysundevil said...

Unforgiving-
We totally need more people like you; volunteering to help out there willing to learn. You're awesome!

Cincysundevil said...

Sonrisa-
I'm just happy that you volunteered and did what you could. Sometimes it might feel like you're trying to hold back the ocean but every little bit helps.

Cincysundevil said...

Deesguy-
I told you to stay! Instead you went back to the Marmet house and watched One Life To Live instead. How could you?

Cincysundevil said...

Jen-
Man crushes? Us? No way!

Cincysundevil said...

NML-
Isn't it amazing that it often takes someone from a different country to remind Americans that we're a country of immigrants? The irony is lost on those sorts of folks who need to be reminded ...