I got my haircut this morning–one of my favorite things to do! When I get my hair cut I usually just sit there and let the person cutting do their thing … I'm not a chatty haircut-ee. As I've been on the road, it has been about three months since I've been to the Fantastic Sam's where I get my (meager) locks trimmed and in that time, R., a woman who has cut my hair for almost ten years lost a ton of weight so I complimented her on her accomplishment. That got us chatting about changing her diet, cooking her El Salvadorian cuisine in more healthy ways, and feeding her family more fresh fruits and veggies. In the course of our conversation it came out that yesterday, R. took her oath of citizenship and is now AN AMERICAN!!! Her pride and the sense of achievement was wonderful to see and it got me thinking about the immigration stories the we hear all the time.
If all you ever listen to are people like Lou Dobbs and others of his ilk, you'd have no chioce but to conclude that all immigrants to America were "dirty brown people" (okay, I know that he and is ilk would never actually "say" such, but it doesn't take much to decode the thinly veiled language …) who want to come to America to suck off the teat of the American nanny state, get free health care, and buy lobster with their food stamps.
Are there a lot of illegal immigrants in the U.S.? I'm sure there are and living in California has made me realizet that, this obviously is an issue that the U.S. must deal with, but there are many many more legal immigrants to the U.S. who work hard, make the U.S. a much better place, and who's stories don't get any air play so people in the middle of the country (where there likely are far fewer immigrants) can see that there's probably a lot less to fear about immigrants than they think.
R. cuts hair for a living (okay she's not the best stylist I've ever seen, but she works hard and gives me a decent cut for the right price), she's raising three sons (the oldest of whom is in college), and her husband (a U.S. born citizen if it matters to you) works in maintenence. They are the embodyment of the American dream, right?
There is the family who live next door to us who are immigrants from Mexico. E. is a chef at California Pizza kitchen, his wife I. is an office clerk, their daughter S. is an honor student in an LAUSD magnet school for students who are academically gifted, and their youngest daughter Y. is entering the second grade and gives her mom fits because she only wants to speak English and her Spanish is, apparently, horrible!!! They are also the embodyment of the American dram, righ?
Finally, S/O and I went to an open house where we met a young man named, L., who emmigrated from Guatemala with his family when he was fifteen. He is now 26 and owns a place of his own and a second rental property because he "worked his a** off since he was fifteen doing anything he could like construction, recycling cans, and going to school." He also, "keeps a raincoat on" when he is with his girlfriend so he won't end up with "five or seven kids" like some of his friends (who where born in the U.S.). L. saved his money, doesn't drive a nice car, and has basic cable and a basic cell phone plan because he wants to save his money in order to invest in another place. This kid is the embodyment of the American dream, right?
Now, IMHO, American's who are willing to work hard and do what it takes to be competitive have nothing to fear from any of these immigrants. If, however, you didn't study when you were in school; spend your money on leasing a BMW and an iPhone even though you don't own your own place or pay off your credit cards every month ; or you can't save money for a down payment because you NEED to have a designer shoes, wear jeans that cost $200, or you just spend all your money on beer or are just lazy (each one of these stories are from American born people in my gym) … Then you have something to fear, but that really is your own making isn't it???
I don't reall blame Lou Dobbs and his ilk. He's selling a product … news … And he's getting rich doing it … But as American's let's start being a bit more honest about who we are and stop scapegoating … It'll be painful to do, but it'll also be a lot healthier for all of us in the end …