Saturday, September 09, 2006


My father said he is tired of having to press “1” to hear an automated system in English. And so opened the door to the topic of illegal immigration. He didn’t disagree with a local politician who promises that, if given my vote, he’ll see that a wall is built along our border to stem the flow of people sneaking over in the night.

And whom, I asked him, do you think will build that wall? The Mexicans, of course. No one else would work for low wages in the hot Texas climate doing thankless work. And did he think that the builders wouldn’t know every inch of it and tell their friends the best place to cross over?

Does he think a wall will stop them? An image flashes of National Guardsmen atop the wall with vats of boiling oil. These people are willing to cross the ocean in a boat made for half the number of people on it to get to our shores. They are willing to risk death in the back of a hot truck. Come to think of it, when did a wall stop anyone? The Appalachian, and later Rocky Mountains, natural walls, did not stem the flow of white settlers into Native American territory even at the risk of a deadly attack.

No, the wall is a breadcrumb thrown from our politicians’ tables to appease us, make us think they have a plan. At the same time, their gardens and houses are kept by Hispanic people. They clean our barns and build our fences. They become part of our community.

Until and unless we admit our need for such workers, and try to become part of a solution to the problem that makes them leave their own part of the world to support their families, they will come.

Dad thinks they’ll take over “the world”, his world. And maybe they will. Maybe, hundreds of years from now, everyone in this part of the world will speak Spanish, just as hundreds of years prior, no one spoke English here. In the meantime, I’ll try to learn a few Spanish words and bring a smile to the face of someone far from home.

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