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A Conversation With An American Citizen

August 17, 2012

Off and on during the past week or so my wife and I had an opportunity to talk with two men who managed to speak eloquently to a hot topic in this country, namely immigration.

We are having a garage built to augment our mountain home.  Each day for the past twelve days or so, two brothers arrived between 7:00 and 8:00 A.M. to get at it, this after driving over an hour to get here. Almost the entire time they worked unsupervised. Our contractor made no bones about it. They are the best construction workers he has ever seen. And he has used them off and on for over five years. Both can do almost anything that is required and both work tirelessly all day. The quality of their work is excellent! To top it off, they are here legally.

At times other subcontractors arrived with their crews. Yesterday it was the “gutter guys.” The day before came a gang of roofers. The day before that it was the stone masons, and so on.  If you called for a landscaper or someone to do tile, it would be much the same story. Almost all the work here, skilled or not, is being done by Mexicans.

The contractors will tell you in a heartbeat that they would go out of business if these men were not here to work! Why? I have been told by at least four contractors that the local guys say they want to work, but they won’t. By and large the local men are looking for a paycheck but they don’t really have a stomach for hard work! There are exceptions, of course, but I really think that you might have trouble finding a white guy around here shingling in the hot sun, high on a pitched roof.

I talked with one of the brothers; he’s bilingual, you see. He is an American citizen by way of birth. Unfortunately his wife is not. She and his American born children live in Mexico. He is involved in a lengthy and expensive legal process to have her and his kids join him here.  While that drags on, he and his brother do nothing but work, dawn to dusk most days, and send their earnings home.  Their thoughts go with them. Both of these men have young children and they miss them dearly. Like us, they want a better life for their kids. They are not “wetbacks” or drug dealers. They are like the guys who live next door. Tell me! Is this man’s story crazy or what?

I know we will eventually bring sanity to immigration policy. It will come because we need these men, probably more than they need us. Unfortunately, we have a tradition in this country. Although all of us, except the American Indians, stem from some other shore, we must pretend that Mexicans and others who wish to immigrate are not worthy and give them royal hell. Bottom line from here in the mountains of Virginia, if they all up and left tomorrow, we would be running around like Chicken Little screaming that the sky was falling. And I believe rather shortly thereafter, it actually would.

2 Comments
  1. Agree, Bob. Being raised in Texas, I grew up with Americans of Mexican descent and waaay back then there was easier movement back and forth which I did all too often to Nuevo Loredo. They are great people with wonderful family, religious and work ethics and make better Americans than many. What I suspect is that we disagree on HOW the Immigration laws should be changed.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Pat. I certainly don’t have all the answers but we should at least do something that makes sense and quit pretending that immigrants are stealing jobs. Try planting, staking up and picking tomatoes! My back hurts just thinking about it.

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