A Christmas Tale of an Illegal Alien
On a late December morning in 1982, he pulled into the vineyard, jumped out of a broken-down station wagon filled with seven kids and asked the farmer if he could do some work in the vineyard until he could find another job. He looked exhausted—red-eyed, unshaven, in dirty clothes. The farmer detected an air of quiet desperation about him. The children looked like they might not have eaten recently. So although he really needed no help this time of year, the farmer gave the Mexican what work he had, even though it was only for two days.
Years later, the farmer saw el Mexicano viejo again and he still didn’t look good. Now over sixty, with white rather than raven-black hair, he had continued as an occasional farm laborer and now walked permanently stooped. He speaks not a word of English. None of his children graduated from high school. He has many children and grandchildren (anchor babies), some on various forms of disability, welfare and unemployment, others successful and gainfully employed, and a few who had been jailed.
When the Mexican left his homeland many years earlier his government wanted him and others like him to be gone lest they agitate over their poverty or the bleak future looming for their many children they never should have had, given their desperate circumstances.
On the other side of the border, American farmers and businessmen, eager to exploit this source of cheap labor, offered them jobs with substandard wages, poor living conditions and no health care benefits. This laid the ground-work for liberals and ethnic activists who wanted the Mexicans and their families as future “progressive” voters or as statistics in their loyal ranks of needy constituents.
Other Americans didn’t think about that very much. In some locales, the Mexicans came, helped with the harvest, and then disappeared. There were no headlines in the media. Anglos who worked with them or in similar jobs saw no threat from their temporary presence in the community. Then, the numbers of such families began to seem like a flood or an unarmed invasion. Some of them opened businesses catering to their brethren and stayed year round instead of returning to
The Americans assumed initially that the children, at least, were learning English and staying in school until they graduated, offering the prospect that they would eventually become socially integrated and culturally and linguistically assimilated. However, the media soon began to report stories about the high drop out rate among these children, including those who were birthright instant citizens and had never been in
El Mexicano viejo was typical of these migrant workers. He had always planned to die in
Scholastic achievement in the schools plummeted. Although there were new signs of material wealth—newer cars, cell phones, color TVs, CD players and VCRs, there was also much more anger that “aliens”, even if their fortunes had greatly improved in the
The government-subsidized housing just down the street in many cities was full of small children, baby carriages, and pregnant women who have no skills and are wholly dependent on government largess and the minimum wages or less their drop out husbands are able to earn.
Those who managed to escape this fate found themselves in the clutches of ethnic and social studies faculty whose main interest is to secure tenure and assure a continuing supply of pliable minds for their ethnic activism, separatist rants, racist student organizations and later, their adult counterparts.
In a nation beset with new enemies, since 9/11, who wish to destroy us, do we have common values and ideas that unite us more than divide us? If our fundamentalist adversaries see us Americans of all colors, ethnicities and religions, without exception, as infidels deserving of death simply by virtue of being Americans, do we likewise see ourselves as a united people? Is
If snipers, suicide bombers and poisoners wish to kill indiscriminately black, brown, yellow and white Americans because they are alike, why do many professors, journalists and politicians claim that we are and should be different and separate? Sounds like a recipe for disaster rather than a prescription for a unified nation under God, doesn’t it?.
It is folly to emphasize our differences over our similarities, to champion separatism and toy with the principle that the rule of law matters only according to the circumstances and particular interests of those involved.
Christmas 2007—25 years after el Mexicano viejo arrived at the farm in 1982. Merry Christmas.