I write about my life and life itself seen through my eyes for who can write through the experiences of others if not their own?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

the Land of Benefits

The new amnesty bill has stirred some agitated debate among the community. Almost everywhere I go I hear conversations about the unfairness of the benefits received by illegal immigrants and God forbid what they will get should such a bill pass. One look at Facebook reminds me once again of the perceived unfairness:

"SO LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT ..." claims one Facebook post "If you cross the North Korean border illegally, you get 12 yrs. hard labor. If you cross the Afghanistan border illegally, you get shot. Two Americans just got eight years for crossing the Iranian border. If you cross the U. S. border illegally you get a job, a driver’s license, food stamps, a place to live, health care, housing & child benefits, education, & a tax free business for 7 yrs ...No wonder we are a country in debt. Re-post if you agree".

Recently an irate woman sitting next to me complained about someone she knew who put all her kids through college without paying anything just because she was an immigrant. I sat there thinking about the huge loans my kids are accumulating in spite of being children of immigrants. Makes me want to cross the border again...

The benefits coworkers, Facebook peers and people in general claim are granted to immigrants eluded me when I immigrated to the States.

When my mother, an experienced accountant in Colombia, came as an illegal immigrant, she worked two jobs in the worse imaginable conditions with no benefits, making waaay below minimum wage. It was her mediocre salary that kept those garments low in price for consumers. She cleaned bathrooms and scrubbed floors as I did too. She stood on her feet for hours in steamy hot factories being threatened and harassed by the foremen of the plant. She did not collect unemployment when she was laid off and she did not file an IRS return so her taxes remained with the Government as is the case with millions of immigrants. She did not get food stamps, neither did I, nor any member of my illegal immigrant family. There was no healthcare nor a place to live that we did not pay for with our honest earned money. If there was anything dishonest, it was the conditions in which we worked and the paycheck given to us.

I did not get a free education. I worked a full time and a part time job to put me through school. I worked in places that tired me so much I fell asleep in my car before going home. I worked at a laundry mat that burned the tip of my fingers, and I bought my clothes at a Salvation Army store. I drove a piece of junk that ran out of gas because I  didn't make enough to ever fill it up. I didn’t get anything for free. That glamorous life many talk about that supposedly is granted to immigrants escaped me…and sadly all the immigrants I know.

Political conflict is never been my forte nor I will ever devote enough time to understand it and engage in it, but I find it difficult to believe that it is the illegal immigrants who have the country in the condition it is and not other affairs that have put it at risk.

This melting pot reminds us that it is the diversity of the races, creeds, ethnicity, that has enriched the culture of this nation. It is the new influx of energy that gives an edge to the economy. Immigrants bring new ideas and a new eagerness to do jobs others wouldn't do. This is a
Land of Immigrants. We all but the Native Americans are a breed from another land. And I don't see the Native American complain as much.