Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More Immigration Chatter

I know--it's so lame when I tease you with DRAMA and then don't come back to finish what I started. But Eamonn informed me that sometimes I have to work at something that actually pays money.


So if you followed along on the Rocky Mountain Moms post I wrote about immigration, you'll know that I'm annoyed by illegal immigration by people of any nationality.

There was an interesting Facebook debate raging last week right before I wrote the immigration post and it started because someone put the following as their status update on their Facebook page:

– IF you cross the NORTH KOREAN border illegally you get 12 years of hard labor.
– IF you cross the IRANIAN border illegally you are detained indefinitely.
– IF you cross the AFGHAN border illegally you will get shot.
– IF you cross the SAUDI ARABIAN border illegally you will be jailed.
– IF you cross the CHINESE border illegally you may never be heard from again.
– IF you cross the VENEZUELAN border illegally you will be branded a spy and your fate will be sealed.
– IF you cross the CUBAN border illegally you will be thrown into a political prison to rot.
– IF you cross the U.S. border illegally you will get:
1 – A JOB,

Only in America!

As you can imagine, people went a little crazy. And I confess, that I forwarded the above as an e-mail to my family and sort of stirred the pot a little.

I don't know how true all of it is--because how can you legally get a driver's license if you're here illegally? Maybe the point is they get fake documents and then can get other social services? I don't know.

Now, to talk about some of our illegal immigration experiences. . .

We have a very high number of foreigners where we live. I think it mostly has to do with the fact that it's a resort area so it attracts an international "audience." We have friends from Canada, Mexico, Australia, England, Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden--it's just a very international population. The highest percentage of people are obviously American, but our second highest population is Mexican.

I don't know who's legal and who isn't. It's not something I ask when I meet someone. Our kids go to school together, play sports together. I just assume they're here legally.

So,that's just some background.

Our first "illegal" immigrant interaction happened in 2003, before we even lived here. We came to stay with my sisters for the month of August and Eamonn was riding several big mountain bike races. One of the races was in Leadville, Colorado--known for the Leadville Trail 100: Race Across the Sky. It's the highest mountain bike race in the world--or something like that. I might be spouting erroneous facts again.

Anyway, it's a big deal and the town is packed during race weekend. In 2003, Eamonn and I left the boys at Tara's and went to Leadville for the race. The evening before the race, we, along with with probably a hundred other people, were in the hotel parking lot, loading supplies into vehicles, working on bikes, hanging out--whatever. There was a very nice, new pickup truck parked nose to nose with our car. I was sitting in our car, probably listening to NPR (nerd). Eamonn was behind his friend's truck which parked next to us.

The owner of the pickup truck came out of the hotel with his girlfriend, got into the truck, and for some bizarre reason--perhaps he needed driving lessons--drove forward into our car instead of backing up. So he hit us. I hopped out of the car and started to walk towards the truck, motioning to him to stop because he was driving away. He stopped. I called out to Eamonn and then I stood in front of the truck (stupid move, I know).

Eamonn went to the driver's side of the truck and they began talking. Eamonn was asking to see the guy's driver's license. I continued to stand in front of the truck and Eamonn's friend came and stood next to me.

And then, pandemonium broke out. The next thing I knew, Eamonn was reaching into the truck when the truck started to drive away. He was shouting to me to get out of the way, people were yelling and shouting. The truck drove forward and pushed against me. I'm not sure if I jumped out of the way or someone pulled me, but suddenly gravel flew and the truck was driving away. As the dust around me cleared, I couldn't see Eamonn and I shouted to Eamonn's friend, "Where is Eamonn?" He pointed. The truck was roaring across a vacant lot with Eamonn clinging to the door. More screaming (from me), people running and yelling, coming to the windows of the hotel. Drama.

Eventually Eamonn jumped down while the truck was still driving and it roared away.

We called the police who came and put out an APB for the guy who, it turned out, was an illegal from Mexico and already had a warrant out for his arrest for sexual assault. The case was scheduled to go to court, but the whole thing was eventually dropped because they couldn't find him. I'm sure he left the country until things cooled off because he just vanished into thin air. The cops actually knew of him and had been looking for him.

So what the heck? You're here illegally, but you can drive a vehicle nicer than mine? You can commit crimes, but not have any accountabilty for them?

When Eamonn and I compared stories after the fact, he said had been asking the guy for his license, and of course, the guy wouldn't give it, because he probably didn't have one. So when Eamonn said he would call the police and let them straighten it out the guy clearly wanted to get the heck out of there--being a wanted illegal and all. Eamonn reached in to try and turn off the truck and that's when the guy started driving forward into me. As the guy drove away across the vacant lot, Eamonn was hanging onto the door with one arm and punching the guy in the head with his other arm. It's my only satisfaction out of this story.

That illegal story makes my blood boil. My other illegal story makes me sad.

Three years ago, Declan played his first season of soccer. Two teams practiced at the same time and you know how it is--moms are there entertaining/chasing after younger siblings and you start talking. I struck up a friendship with a woman who was from Ecuador. While her oldest son practiced, Finn played with her daughter and twin sons, both of whom were about two years old at the time. Eventually I learned that she had spent the first year of the twins' life in prison. She had come to the U.S. illegally, married, and then she and her husband hired an unethical immigration attorney who basically stole $50,000 from them, did nothing to help their case, and she ended up going to jail for the first year of the twins' lives.

It made me sad to think she spent the first year of her children's lives in prison, but it was a circumstance that began with her own choice to enter the country illegally. She is a lovely person who I still see frequently and enjoy talking to, but I do feel the outcome was appropriate. And to her credit, while she blames the corrupt attorney for what happened, she served her time, she is now here legally, and she works hard and contributes to the community.

So two different stories to demonstrate a little more about where I'm coming from on the topic of illegal immigration.

I think something further that is really bugging me lately is the amount of our tax dollars spent on translating documents for people who can't read English. Why are we doing this? Again, if I went to live in France, I certainly wouldn't expect anything to be translated for me. I'm just annoyed by this. If you want to live here, shouldn't you know the language? Why should our schools be burdened with children who cannot speak the language? Truly, I'm just baffled.

And I was also thinking back on the whole Facebook status update hullabaloo from above and how several people (they were in the minority, believe me), that really, all of us are descended from illegal immigrants. What? They made comparisons to how Europeans came and pushed out the Native Americans or how early Ellis Island immigrants got here. How can you even compare the immigration then to the immigration now? And then someone printed the whole "give us your tired, your poor, you huddled masses" blah blah blah. So we should just open our borders and let anyone in? How would our economy even support that?

And another thing I just thought of. Did you hear the story about the students in California who were sent home for wearing shirts with American flags on them on Cinco de Mayo? Wow. Where is the AMERICAN Civil Liberties Union on that one? So annoying.

Have you ever noticed a lot of things annoy me?

It's so annoying, I know.


The Professional Bag Lady said...

I think most of us have stories such as yours... and it only serves to prove the point that we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to this issue... When we continue to subsidize the education, medical and income of the illegals we are just asking for problems. It all starts with employers who need to stop hiring them... and the States need to stop enabling them...

Lauren said...

Hmm, I think I'm going to mostly pass on this discussion, but I don't see why it seemed so far-fetched that someone pointed out what happened when Europeans first came to this country. Really, that doesn't seem like a fair comparison to you? At least worthy of consideration? You can argue back about the inappropriateness of the Statue of Liberty saying if you like, but then we probably should remove/rescind it since it is no longer true, rather than celebrating it just when we feel like it.

We appear to have an economy that utilizes low wage illegal immigrant labor. We appear as a nation to have a drug problem that makes it worth the risk financially to drug traffic at the border. We appear unwilling as a nation to address the root of these problems rather than the symptoms. Illegal immigration is an issue; I agree. But there are many ways of approaching it.

Stepping down now...

in a world surrounded by men said...

I'm with you Nat. How can you even compare the creation of a country two hundred years ago and illegally entering an ESTABLISHED country with laws and a process for citizenship.

Yes, I agree that our system needs an overhaul, but not by saying, "oh well, our ancestors did it (maybe), so it is justified for anyone to do now." Slavery was acceptable years ago, should I go whip a few African Americans into submission?

Just sayin' it either applies or it doesn't.

I'm sick to death of the people in far off parts of the country who are openly critical of Arizona's law. Do people in Illinois or Maryland have to deal with the huge problems that the droves of Mexican illegals are bringing with them? Are their kids sitting bored in public school because two thirds of the class can't speak or understand English?

They should worry about their own state. States have individual power to address their individual needs and circumstances. That is another genius idea (genuinely, I think it is wonderful) of our founding fathers.

And the point on natural consequences... I'm a huge believer of natural consequences.

deb8able said...

I agree with everything you said Natalie. I'm sick of illegal immigrants.

KirstyB said...

So...I followed a link over here from Not Quite What I Had Planned...and I realized I had also read your post over at the Rocky Mountain Moms blog too...I couldn't agree with you more! I came here from England...slugged my way through the long immigration process and am now a US citizen. I say we should welcome anyone that wants to come here with open arms...as long as they go through the proper channels! Kudos to you for speaking out!

Kim said...

I am just reading this post late but wanted to share that as a person living in Washington State, it is VERY possible for illegal immigrant to get driver's licenses-and talk about scary drivers! They also get subsidized housing, free medical care and free interpreters at school and medical appointments. As an overtaxed, hard working, middle class white woman, I must say I too am sick of it all. In fact, I very non-pcey support Arizona's laws--not a popular opinion among my very liberal fellow Washingtonians!!

Personal story: A family was driving to an evening church service (at our church) last year. A truck crossed the center lane and hit them head on. The mother was pronounced dead at the scene. When the truck came to a stop and the police approached the vehicle, the driver was trying to climb into the passenger side to pose as a passenger. His blood alcohol level way WAY over the legal limit, there was an open container in his front seat and he had no license. He had no insurance. He was here illegally and had been deported back to Mexico once. Oh, and there was a warrant out for him for drunk driving previously.

I don't know what happened to him, but probably not much... but I do know a family that no longer has a mommy and a husband who no longer has a wife.

Anonymous said...

Also coming into this late... The Statue Of Liberty was what people saw as they came into the US to be processed LEGALLY. So YES we should celebrate the saying on the Statue of Liberty. It is not saying we will take everyone with open borders. I interpret it to mean you are welcome as long as you are legally arriving and not here to be a strain on our country. This is a hot topic for me. I have relatives who are here after becoming legal citizens. I agree with you. Unfortunately I don't have the answers but Arizona is on the right track. A few weeks ago my husband told me that because of the Arizona law many illegals and their families are moving to....you guessed it COLORADO.