Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hi Mom. Glad You’re Here.

I’m laying my cards on the table here.

I’m not wanted in the state of Arizona. 

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I were despised.

If the mere fact of illegal immigration inspires the kind of mean-spirited nastiness we’ve seen from that state, then the logical conclusion is that the consequences of such immigration would inspire similar nastiness.

Thank you Arizona, for laying your own cards on the table.  That trip to the Grand Canyon shall not be near in my future, if ever.

See, in the middle of the last century, my mother came to this country without the formality of work papers.

Of course, she eventually did get a green card and a work visa and eventually became a citizen.

By the time I came around she was married to my gringo dad and fully invested in her life in El Norte.

If Governor Brewer had her way, none of that would likely have happened.  I would not have happened.  My two siblings would not have happened. 

I understand how the anti-immigrant bias is fueled by our current economic uncertainty.  I also think a lot of it is cultural bias borne out of ignorance and bigotry and failure of imagination.

It’s easier to pass a grandstanding, anti-immigrant law than to confront employers who exploit the cheap labor the immigrant community provides.

It’s easier to make noise and announce your intentions to bully and intimidate than to advocate for a federal policy that would confront the failures of NAFTA and our failed “war” on drugs.  It’s easier to placate the howling classes with hollow house bills on a state level than to address class division and the inequitable distribution of land that sends so many citizens northward.

It’s easier to expose your bigotry than your humanity.

It’s true that we can’t make policy for a foreign nation yet we seem pretty good at attempting to do so when we want something out of that country, like oil.  Hard to believe we couldn’t influence foreign policy in Mexico to bring about a win-win for the citizens of both nations (albeit to the likely detriment of the oligarchs.)

It takes a lot of courage to leave your family and country behind and travel on your own to a new land, a new culture, with limited means and language skills.

It takes a lot of daring to face such a big unknown.  It takes a lot of determination to create a life plan so different than the one you were handed at birth.  It takes a lot of imagination to place so much faith in such an uncertain future.

I have relatives on my gringo side of the family who never left the small Texas town in which they were born.  They never explored a world beyond their birthplace.

They never risked, never imagined, never rolled the dice.  But because they are of Northern European descent and generations removed from those same Europeans, the state of Arizona would welcome them and likely never ask to see their papers. 

It makes me think – which type person should we really want populating our country?

Thanks, Mom, for making the trip.

I’m glad we’re both here.


NV said...

Great post! For what it's worth, i'm glad you're here, too!
Words can't express how dismayed I am by the Arizona law. I am SO DAMNED SICK of white people that it makes me almost ashamed sometimes to be one!

But, I find great comfort in knowing that while none of my ancestors came on the Mayflower (that I know of) some of my ancestors were already here and always had been! (And I think we all know how much good it did THEM ...)

Beatnheart said...

boy you said it all in a way that I was thinking but could never and perhaps would never put down on paper...Its a big hot mess...this and a lot of other stuff...God help us all...

Bear Chick said...

And let's remember, this is the state that took over 15 years to acknowledge Martin Luther King's birthday...