“America the beautiful”

The best way to learn anything about America is to talk to someone else. Having breakfast in a diner in Greenport, Long Island, I talked to the cook. After making the eggs, he was outside to wash the windows. The young Latino’s teeth were spaced and crooked, his right arm covered with some fine Aztec tattoos. Since his English was as good as my Spanish, we went back and forth between the two languages. I always ask people like this kid the same question. Do you get to go home? The answer tells us a lot about ourselves.

No, he hasn’t been home to Mexico City in ten years. That’s how long it’s been since he has seen “his Mami.” That’s the word he used, “Mami.” He began his perilous journey when he was seventeen, now he is twenty-seven. If he were to go back to visit, it would cost him $15,000 to pay a smuggler to get him back across the border, and return him to Greenport. This is where he cleaned the toilet long enough until they gave him a job cleaning windows and he did that long enough for him to get a job cooking eggs. He wanted to show me the Lady of Guadalupe, which was tattooed on his back. A friend runs a shop in Greenwich Village and did it for free.

So this illegal cooks eggs in Greenport, takes the Hampton Jitney into Manhattan ($42 round trip), and returns to cooks eggs for people like me. He has never committed a crime, in fact I am sure he is a much more law abiding citizen than I ever was, but he has not been able to visit his “Mami” in Mexico because if he did, he could not return. He is illegal. He is an illegal person.

How can a person be illegal? He has zero rights? He doesn’t exist? He lives constantly in a shadow like a dangerous animal or insect that we step on if he peeps out of his hole, only we need him to clean the toilets the windows the tables and cook the eggs, over easy. Last week in Los Angeles the Obama administration put pressure on a downtown clothing employer and they were forced to fire payroll 1,800 workers. Some of these people had been working there for ten years. They all paid into the social security system. Ten years! Most of them were women. What do they tell their children when they come home? I got fired from the place I have worked in since you were born and now I’m going into hiding and will ask if I can be a maid and clean houses? What kind of country is this? These out of control right wing people haters that keep repeating the mantra “everyone must obey the law”; where did they come from? Who were their ancestors? Lakota? Lenapes? Pueblo Indians? Where was their grandmother, or grandfather, or great grandmother born? Didn’t anyone ever give them a helping hand? Our treatment of illegal immigrants is plain disgusting. Nothing is more shameful of us as a people, not any war we make, not any lack of medical insurance, nothing. The right wing position is simply a matter of saying “I’ve got it, and you can go rot as far as I care.”

Immigration is a simple issue. It is an issue of caring about people. You either care that this kid can go home and visit his “Mami” or you do not. And of the people that do not care; there is something seriously wrong with them. I suggest counseling. Meanwhile, politically, we had best move forward without them.

3 Responses to ““America the beautiful””
  1. Doug Rickard says:

    Yes, of course it is simple, grant them all citizenship, hire them legally, tax them, let them have our benefits as citizens and make them Americans. The only caveat is that you would want to screen out them “bad apples”, those that would do us and each other harm. You know the one’s, the rapists, the child molesters, the murderers, the armed robber’ers, the drug dealers and of course, the terrorists. Skin color has no boundries when dealing with “bad apples” so you wouldn’t want to single out by ethnic group or skin color type… you just want to get rid of the bad apples.

    After all, human nature is a mother fk’er and you have to account for it and it’s ugly side. Try to minimize the downside of the mass immigration influx.

    As long as we get all of the “good ones”, we have plenty of room here.

    • dektol says:

      I have a lot of trouble with this. I grow apples, and I don’t spray the trees. Commercial farmers usually do, and of course the poison they use is passed on to everyone that eats the apples.
      The first thing that makes me jump is that your comments repeat (as in Media Brainwashing) a lot of terms that have made a rational public discussion of the issue almost impossible. The man that delivered me in 1942, the doctor, was my uncle, who in 1905 came to NYC as an illegal immegrant. Among other things he was wanted for “murder one” back home in Russia, as his son,who became a lawyer, later put it. So send him back. My father, a German, who immigrated about thirty years later, told me he “smuggled in some diamonds” by coring an orange, and pushing them inside. So lets deport him too. But then I wouldn’t have become the the asset that I am to America, because I wouldn’t be an American — they would have refused entry to my ancestors, the “bad apples”. Maybe we should deport some of the Publo, Navajo and the Lakota? Some of them do bad things. But where would we send them?
      Danny Lyon

  2. Barry Thomas says:

    There are good people lke Mother Teresa, W. Eugene Smith, your daughter, my son, and there are bad people. The bad people, some of them, have an area of the brain that doesnt function, an area which is alive for sympathy,empathy, and love in others. The bad ones are often psychopaths. There are degrees no doubt in these people and degrees of good in peole of course. But there are simply bad people and they cant help it, I think.

    For me you shouldnt kill anyone. No one. But there are things like the holocaust and what do we do then? Pacifism? Not if you can stop it.

    We should give your Mexian friend citizenship. And the illegal immigrant employees of Smithfield should have the right to be come citizens. In fact all of these people. They are here working cheap.

    Unrelated to this, I deplore the diminishment of photographic film supplies. Black and white prints, using light and silver, cannot be equalled in beauty by digital means. But people cant see this, or want things fast and easy (digital is so easy). We dont care about quality, although when it comes to food, we better because our current production of food is killing us.

    You know, I think I should try praying even though I think I have no knowlege of God, because man is not going to save himself.

    Barry Thomas

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