Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A great letter on immigration

Name: Alma
Hometown: New York, NY
As a past illegal immigrant, now naturalized citizen, I'll say this: Yes, we do come here largely because Mexico has problems - namely our government (talk about an understatement). Regardless, we come here to work, not for the rule of law. The rule of law makes it possible for people to get ahead here, but understand, most of us have no intention of staying when we cross the border. We stay, in my case particularly, because we come to feel an attachment to this society. We don't stay for the welfare and the food stamps everyone keeps talking about. We stay because our kids join the baseball team, because we buy a house, because we start a business, because we have careers, because we have something to give back knowing that no one will take away what we earn (well, except Uncle Sam, come tax time). I realize most people reading this don't believe we contribute anything to this society. Everyone seems to think the last immigrants who contributed anything came at the turn of the last century. But, please consider that some of us arrived less than twenty years ago and have forged a business, a profession (and a serious resume), a community and a 401(k) and tax contributions at the top bracket. Some of us don't do as well and therefore contribute less. Nonetheless, the question of whether people should be coming and if so, how they should arrive, is largely irrelevant. We are coming and will continue to do so. Yes, Mexico has to take more responsibility for its people, but its people are becoming your people, whether you like it or not (seriously, legislation and a giant wall aren't going to stop the will to survive). The only relevant question is: how do we help those arriving to become the most productive members of society they can be? Are you going to let us get an education, pay our taxes and become a part of your community? No? Then what - you'd rather ostracise us, keep us uneducated in menial jobs where we'll earn next to nothing, send all of our infinitesimally small paychecks back to Mexico and teach us to hate you? We come from a broken country and are attempting to become part of one that is allegedly whole, if you break this one out of hatred towards us, it makes us no worse off - ours is already broken, remember? If you want to divide these United States, so be it - after all, this was your land before it was mine.