The subject of illegal immigration and undocumented workers has dominated the political conversation for years- even before Trump made it the bread and butter of his presidential campaign (remember “When Mexico sends its people they’re not sending their best… they’re bringing drugs… crime… their rapists,” ad nauseam.)
If one would believe Trump and his brethren on Fox, the caravans of benign people seeking asylum and refuge across the border are in fact an insidious infestation; they are instead a savage horde of machete wielding bandoleros; crotch busting M-13 thugs crazed on drugs and hell bent on doing unspeakable things to our nubile young women- and, perhaps, even our nubile young men.
Do we need to protect our borders? Of course- without borders a sovereign nation cannot exist. But I would suggest that the people from south of the border do not represent an existential threat- au contraire. They are in fact the life blood of our economy.
A couple of weeks ago on a Tuesday morning I experienced an epiphany of sorts. The H.O.A. in my townhome community decided our aging roofs should be replaced. Work began a few months ago. The sturdy men who did the work- men appearing to be from their late teens to mid-forties- had one thing in common; they were Hispanic. Every day as I would watch them performing back breaking labor (carrying heavy tiles on their shoulders as they climbed up ladders; bending and squating as they tore off old tile and nailed in the new, etc.) I scrutinized the entire crew and saw nary a White, Black or Asian among them. I could not help but wonder how long I would last doing this work, even in my prime (whenever the hell that may have been.) Not very long.
And on that fateful Tuesday an eye opening convergence occurred. Tuesday is trash pick-up day, and the trash collectors- all Hispanic. But there’s more. The annual tree trimming was scheduled that day, and looking up amidst the branches there were men toiling with chainsaws- Brown men. And I’m certain that a substantial number of all these men were undocumented. And I bear witness that not a one of them was doing drugs, or being lazy or engaging in criminality. And I also bear witness that there is a Browning of the work force that performs the hardest, most dangerous and undesirable jobs in our society.
And as a rejoinder to Mr. Trump, I would say, “They’re sending their construction and farm workers; their maids and nannies and warehouse workers and truck drivers- and if all of them disappeared in one fell swoop, our economy would vanish along with them.”