Make Immigration Legal

During the recent raging inferno of the Southern California fires, desperate poor families of color once again had to seek solace from an overwhelming natural disaster by huddling into the home of a professional football team and once again were humiliated by our national government. This time, instead of New Orleans’ Lower 9th Black families fleeing Katrina, they were the So-Cal fire refugees, San Diego area farm workers, and the government agency was the INS, La Migra. Just after midnight on Oct. 24th the Border Patrol and local police began rousting families who had barely escaped with their lives to check to see if they remembered to bring their green cards. Anyone Hispanic looking who did not have IDs was ejected from the stadium as agents harassed and detained legal and illegal immigrants alike, as well as other under-documented suspected Hispanics.

This same week New York state governor, Eliot Spitzer, continued to roast in the firestorm of controversy over his decision to join Arizona, Vermont and Washington in the process of licensing foreign nationals driving vehicles in his state, provided they had valid passports from their home countries. Right wing xenophobes, including CNN’s Lou Dobbs, frothed at the mouth vilifying Spitzer as an illegal alien enabler. (It’s worth noting that Dobbs’ repetitiously repetitious use of “arrogant” as an epithet while belittling Sptizer could not help but remind one of the old playground retort about rubber and glue.)

Also that same week GOP wannabe candidate bottom feeder Tom Tancredo tried to gobble up a little attention by narcing out IL senator Dick Durbin’s press conference on the DREAM act, a proposal to allow immigrants US citizenship for risking their lives in the military. Ever the loyal patriot, Tancredo called in to tip off the INS that illegals would probably be there. Like so many Republican voters have done, the INS simply ignored Tancredo. But between naps second tier GOP sleeper, Fred Thompson, has recently tried to generate some nativist traction by proposing that cities and states be stripped of their federal funding if they allow illegal immigrants in their midst, suggesting that the fugitive slave act is still alive and well in Tennessee. Even GOP stalwarts acknowledge that kind of law would be a tall order.

And so, in a time when the mainstream media would have you believe that the allowable debate on the immigration issue is A) punish ‘em a lot or B) punish ‘em a lot more, let me offer a suggestion that even Bill Richardson isn’t secure enough in his paperwork to suggest. Let’s make immigration legal. Bring on your tired huddled masses and let’s let them breathe free. America living up to its ideals? Sure it’s a harebrained notion, but hey, this is supposedly a comedy column.

Let me open with a story: long ago and far away I grew up in rural south Texas not far from the Rio Grande border. Illegal immigrants were an extremely visible fact of daily life. The border patrol had guards right on the river and then there is a second perimeter of checkpoints about 50 miles in. The town I grew up in was the last town south of the interior border. As an Anglo in South Texas, that is, in general, 80% Latino, I grew up a minority and spent much time in the company of people who spoke a different language than me. You get used to it and I didn’t think to wonder where the people around me fit along the spectrum from full-blooded US citizens for generations since that land was taken from their great-great-great-great-grandparents in the Mexico-American War 1848, down through second and first generation US citizens, to documented aliens, to illegals who had been there for decades, to those who’d slipped across the river that morning.

It was all business as usual UNTIL, one day in my early 20s when I was looking for work and took a job at a commercial plant nursery. The work was tedious, and the pay was minimum wage, but I knew, or thought I knew the owner, a former professional football player who now hustled himself up a living in a variety of ways, including this nursery. Like I said the work was tedious and, as usual with the manual labor jobs I did plenty of in South Texas, I spent most of my time surrounded by people who didn’t speak English to me except when absolutely necessary. Finally, Friday arrived and we gathered ’round for our paychecks. The owner stepped up on a table, and his foremen gathered closely around him. The owner then waved a fist full of envelopes at us and called out that he would distribute the checks to all workers who could show him their social security cards.

A panic of confusion filled the room as the workers gathered frantically to figure out what he was saying. I too was scared, for even though I remembered the number, I hadn’t seen my actual paper social security card in years, but he called out to me and handed me an envelope without pause. Then he went back to explaining in broken Spanish that there was some sort of law that said he only had to pay people who could prove they were US citizens. The foremen were still working at controlling the crowds when I walked out and never went back.

I had worked the same hours as the other people and had my pay, but it wasn’t because I had a piece of paper in my pocket with a series of numbers on it. And it wasn’t because I was a better worker than those other men who had sweated and strained. I surely was not. It was because of which side of a river I had been born on and, like the others, that man could have gotten away with cheating me if I had been born just 30 miles more South. I was so incredibly ashamed of being a White, Anglo, American, of even being associated in any way with that guy that I winced for years anytime I even had to pass by that nursery.

Nowadays I teach junior high in Western Arizona where the line between one country and another isn’t even a river, just an invisible stripe somewhere in a desert. The school where I now work is 65% Hispanic, including some whose trip across that line is still fairly fresh. In my classes I am currently teaching about the 1920s and we are learning that one of the leading social movements of the time was called the “nativist movement,” essentially a political reform movement based a rallying cry something like “America for us ‘mericans!” a oft recurring slogan in US history; one which every citizen of color clearly understands to translate out to: White People Only. While that is simplified version of the politics of the more mainstream members of this movement it aptly captures the sentiments of their more strident branches like the then recently revived KKK who reviled not only Blacks, but also Catholics, Jews and immigrants of all stripe. It was essentially the same laundry list Hitler would use a decade later to set up his cleansing of Europe. It is worth noting that the KKK is again managing to revive itself on the immigrant issue with new news stories about KKK justifying their hatemongering in Arizona and Alabama because of the threat of “those durned foreigners.”

Back in America in the 1920s the nativist movement gained adherents of all classes, though, obviously, not necessarily all colors. Politically the movement successfully established strict immigration quotas in general and virtually eliminated émigrés from African and Asian countries. This political movement was in reaction to an as of today still unequaled period of immigration between 1900 and 1920 when up to 20,000,000 immigrants, mostly from non-English speaking countries, teemed up on our tempest tossed shore. Their numbers swelled the population from 70 to 100,000,000. This is important to remember the size of that immigrant wave because, even though the present wave of immigrants is also twenty million, that figure is a ratio equal to more than triple the current wave of immigration we are now seeing. It is small wonder then that the nativists were scared. They were on their way to being outnumbered.

It is also worth noting though, that this was not the first such nativist movement to resort to claims of patriotism to their underlying racism. In fact, former massively unpopular president Martin Van Buren made one of his several unsuccessful runs for the presidency in the 1850s with the “Know Nothing” party which championed expulsion of all foreign born residents in America. The 1860s era of this movement was portrayed in the Martin Scorsese film Gangs of New York. At that time the offending immigrant minority were the Irish, whom like immigrants today, were expected to trade military service for citizenship and occasionally shipped right off of one boat (the freighters from Europe) onto the other (the troop transports heading South).

There should be no doubt that immigrants have always and always will have a powerful impact on the country. Just ask the Awaraks what they thought of the Spanish who moved here with that Italian, Columbus. Or the Powhatan of the arrival of the colonists at Jamestown, or the residents along the Rio Grande of the coming of Zachary Taylor or for that matter you could just as well ask the Alaskan mammoths what they thought about the coming of the cavemen.

I personally feel that the changes to the country are inevitable, but, given that political power in this country is a zero-sum game, I don’t see the transition as ever having been, nor likely to be a smooth one. I am convinced that the forecasts are true that, by the middle of this century, providing there is still an America, the dominant ethnic group will be the Hispanic, largely the children of immigrants, just the latter 20th century population explosion was the result of the children and grandchildren of the immigration wave of the early 20th century. Through my mother’s second marriage; I myself am one of those step-grandchildren of “durned foreigners” who didn’t know a word of English when they washed up on Ellis Island.

Way back when, the dire predictions made about that group of immigrants a century earlier did have some truth to them: They didn’t speak the language and so were slow to assimilate and surrender their cultures. There were pockets of intense poverty and the resultant suffering and increased crime. There was also a moral shift in the country from the agrarian fundamentalist society of the American 1800s to the “decadent” cosmopolitan urban society we see today. I expect that all those things, or this century’s variation on them, are in the offing with the current wave of immigrants.

But in looking back at that movement I also see a rich infusion of ideas and energy, of styles and fashions and foods and the myriad of cultures that make America the interesting place it is and I look forward to finding out what exciting ideas and energies this generation of émigrés will bring. And I hope that like their forefathers they will help promote and perpetuate the comparatively tolerant country people like me depend on to exist. In the nativist all-white all “normal” world of the 1880s per se, an essentially radical personality such as myself would have been either neutralized or eliminated.

Knowing all this, I think that the problem of immigrants coming to the US from Mexico in illegal ways could best be solved by loosening restrictions, not tightening them. If you really want to end illegal immigration, make immigration legal. Surely any rational person can accept that an immigrant would much rather enter the country through a functional welcoming low-cost official border crossing than by spending his life savings to risk life, limb and jail-time trying to sneak in through the middle of one of the least hospitable deserts on the planet. Surely every one accepts that an immigrant would much rather fill out commonsense paperwork in a language they could read to take a job at a reasonable wage than to have to seriptiously take sub-existence wages in a shadow economy, where one error or one objection could lead not just to firing, but deportation.

I further assert that we might as well make immigration legal since there is no legitimate political will in the US to seriously attempt to end illegal immigration. Intentions of the immigrants aside, just like the “drug problem,” it’s the demand that guarantees the supply. And I am not just talking about nannies, gardeners and maids. Too many “legitimate” American businesses “illegitimately” thrive on the cheap labor they enjoy from keeping immigrants under the table. And it is not just the backyard back-of-the-pickup landscaping companies I’m referring to. We have seen somewhat public scandals involving corporate giants like McDonalds, Swift and Tyson; and those are just the ones that have surfaced. As long as corporations embrace the practice of employing and exploiting immigrant workers, we will never see an end.

I believe that Bush is aware of the importance of the underground economy. His uncharacteristic ineffectiveness on immigration in either direction simply shows me it wasn’t something he wanted to have changed. Certainly his constituents, who are quite clearly not the American people, aren’t in favor of reform.

And so our ideals claiming to be to contrary and our national “leadership” (I told you this was a comedy column) opposing action on it, xenophobes can rant all they want, but we are not likely to see further restrictions on immigration, so why not just make immigration legal. Yes, immigration changes things and not in all ways for the better; but no, I don’t believe that that is a reason to stop it, or to waste political energy and taxpayer money to further fail at stopping it. And please can we take action soon so those creeps on our southern border who call themselves “Minutemen” will stop crowing about their so-called patriotism and have to acknowledge that what they actually are, are bigots with guns.

Instead allowing this stalemate to keep going, couldn’t we just legislate it and improve the lives of the people who suffer due to the oppression designed to keep one group of people poor and scared and another wealthy and callous. Free those who feed us from having to fear the midnight knock at the door and all the Tancredos of the world looking to grub a few votes. Not just amnesty from prosecution, but a reprieve from the persecution immigrants face each day simply to feed their families and inevitably, ours.

Mikel Weisser teaches social studies and poetry on the left coast of Arizona. He can be reached at Read other articles by Mikel.

20 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Funny Truth said on November 3rd, 2007 at 8:06am #

    Mikael, You may say its a comedy, but to Millions its LIFE.
    Every Human was created equal by ALMIGHTY GOD, AND SHOULD BE TREATED WITH DIGNITY.
    If we as a nation lose our self dignity and get self satisfaction by blaming others for our own failures, were doomed to lose.


    Tamar Jacoby of the New York-based Manhattan Institute has advised an Austin-based business group, Texas Employers for Immigration Reform, that lobbied Congress this year for tougher borders and a temporary guest-worker plan. The bill failed.

    (Call it even. Last year, Congress defeated a bill to make illegal immigration a crime.)

    Congress’ failure “has shifted the battleground,” Jacoby said by phone. “In the states, it’s becoming much more polarized. Without a bill in Congress and the give-and-take of negotiations, there’s no center of gravity to pull people toward the center. There are only the various sides pulling people apart.”

    State and local officials feel obliged to “do something and appear to be in control,” she said. Meanwhile, “you see people gloating over deportations, and immigrants getting angrier.”

    The Oklahoma law is “like cutting off your nose to spite your face,” she said.

    “Choking the economy and driving workers out — I don’t think that’s a very effective way to improve your state. Calling your opponents ‘racist’ doesn’t achieve a solution, either.”

    In Arkansas, businesses have announced a new Arkansas Friendship Coalition to promote “dignity” for all humankind, call for congressional action and defend illegal immigrants’ $3 billion role in the state’s economy, as detailed in a report by the Washington-based Urban Institute.

    “We don’t want to lose the economic benefits or cultural benefits these people bring to Arkansas,” said the Rev. Steve Copley, a Methodist minister from North Little Rock.

    “If we lose them, then Arkansas loses money. If you use state and local police time and jail time, that’s even more money lost. We need Congress to reform the system. We don’t need a patchwork of local laws.”

    Everybody wants a tighter border. But the last time Texas’ comptroller figured up the balance sheet on spending and tax revenues from illegal immigration, our state came out ahead by $17.7 billion.

    If only we could stop divisive politics at the Red River.

  2. Pablo the American said on November 3rd, 2007 at 8:36am #

    “Make Immigration Legal”

    I chuckled when I first read the title of your article. Immigration IS legal. The US accepteed more than 2 million LEGAL immigrants last year. This is more legal immigration than every other country in the world COMBINED. The American people are very accepting to the people who come here the right way. It may not be easy, but it’s worth it.

  3. Daniel Maldonado said on November 3rd, 2007 at 9:50am #

    My friend,

    Thank you.


  4. Jenny said on November 3rd, 2007 at 9:59am #

    As a Native American, I’ve felt drawn in to the discussion because the history of my people have been exploited to prop up the dishonorable campaign waged by both political extremes who have historically sought to obliterate the rights and freedoms provided to citizens by the U.S. Constitution, and to abolish the United States as a symbol of what both political extremes find so inconvenient.

    The late Doctor Martin Luther King not only railed against those of the extremist right wing, who waged a bloody campaign of divide and conquer, but also those of the extremist left wing, who waged their own bloody campaign of divide and conquer. The same extremist left who were behind the slaughter of untold millions of innocents around the world in their blind lust for power. The Marxist dogmatics, for whom individual freedoms, the right to self determiniation have been a major barrier to their ability to vanquish the hopes and dreams of peoples throughout the world.

    When Doctor King wrote about his studies, he mentioned having read Marx and Engels, and while at first he felt drawn to what was put forward as ideals, it wasn’t long before he saw what lie beneath the surface of the premise put forward. Slavery, feudalism, oppression, exploitation, nothing more. King said as much, and in no uncertain terms, that Marxism is slavery, because without individual freedoms, the right to self determination, there is NO FREEDOM.

    He saw how the legacies of Marx and Engels had been actually worse than all the other political and social ideologies of the past combined, because it was the great deception incarnate. Lies, dogmatic deceptions intent to deceive the most powerless into sacrificing themselves into actions that would ultimately lead to putting themselves, their children and future generations into harness to serve a cold and despotic elite who were parasites.

    All the claims of social justice should be evaluated, because Marxists have redefined for themselves what is socially just. That they be the ones allowed to think and decide for us all. There are no human or civil rights under those coldblooded regimes, because to them we are little more than cattle who need to be put in service to the state.

    We’ve seen their sort in action, in the Soviet Union, in China and in other parts of Asia, in Nazi Germany, in Italy,Spain, in Mexico, Central and South America. If one wants to understand why there exists such corruption in Latin America, despite the wealth, consider the fact that those nations have allowed themselves to be at the mercy of both the extremist right and extremist left wings.

    The United States of America has had two political parties, but both were more moderate, up until the far right and the far left were able to get a toe hold and gradually infect the two. All is not lost, but unless intelligent, thoughtful and truly humane people stop allowing themselves to be duped into the lies and deceit of the political extremes, we won’t survive.

    At present, extremist zealots like Mike Weiser are striving to convince you that it is unjust and inhumane to enforce our border protections, and immigration laws. Of course, extremist right winger George Bush, and his cronies in the corporatist U.S. Chamber of Commerce advocate for the same thing, it’s not just a co-incidence. Both extremes, the right and the left want the U.S. undermined. Thrown into the same instability as Latin America, where the people and their rights are little more than something to exploit for advantage and profit. In short, where there are no rights.

    The extremist left and right are allied for convenience. Both wish to win, but ultimately have agreed that they need to destroy the U.S. to have an opportunity to do so. Both are working together as parasites to kill the host, so both can do what they’ve done in Latin America and elsewhere. Both extremes view us all as potential slaves.

    Consider how both have abused and exploited power and jostling for power south of the border, and you will see how little respect and concern for the lives of the peoples of those countries. Do not be deceived. They know that the only way they can put the noose around your neck is if you help them to do this. Whether you are a student activist or the poorest of the poor, they will stroke your egos, inflame your anger, manipulate and marginalize you from your shared humanity to make you willing to hate enough to not think about what they are advocating. They will throw you away as easily as you are only a pawn they need to use.

    Think, long and hard. Research the facts, do not be afraid to ask questions, they find that inconvenient and will at first attempt to dismiss your questions. If you still do not bend to their will, they will abuse and attack you. If still you do not bend to their will, sell out your intrinsic humanity, they will demean you to others. But hold fast, because others will ultimately take heart at your courage and question as well.

    This will most likely not remain posted here as he, like his fellow dogmatics are afraid of the truth.

  5. David M. said on November 3rd, 2007 at 10:10am #

    LOL, Immigration is Legal !!

    Illegal Immgration is illegal.

    Dude, saying opposition to illegal immigration is racist, is foolish at best, hateful at worst.

  6. pancho said on November 3rd, 2007 at 10:32am #

    Great article!! I hope the average American citizen reads it. I crossed that border long time ago. I have been here almost all my live, and I haven’t read/hear positive-realistic articles or comments about being illegal in this country.
    I wish Mr. Dobbs reads it and broadcast it on his hate show.

    Thank you from the millions in the shadows


  7. Ed said on November 3rd, 2007 at 8:36pm #

    Mexicans don’t demand citizenship in poor countries south of Mexico because those countries have little to offer them. They demand citizenship instead in the United States because it has much more to offer them. They abandon Mexico, where they could work with fellow Mexicans to change Mexico for the better, so that they can come to the United States illegally and steal jobs and other things of value.

    In other words, these people abandon a country that needs them so that they can go to another country that doesn’t want them and steal a better life from it’s citizens while demanding instant citizenship. This is damaging both to their ‘original citizen brothers’ and their ‘newly-proclaimed citizen brothers’. Probably the biggest problem with demanding citizenship is that they have demonstrated absolutely no loyalty to either country and therefore have no idea what citizenship entails. About the only characteristic that an observer might come away with about these peoples behavior is that they are willing to abandon their own and steal what they want.

    There is a globally understood contempt for people that exhibit this type of moral substance; in English it might best be described as Cowardly Thieving Human Garbage.

  8. Ed said on November 3rd, 2007 at 9:36pm #

    My comments were removed even though they contained no foul language or other violations. This comment section is being censored for favorable content. If this message remains, I’ll try and post my original comments again under the name Ed2

  9. mikel weisser said on November 3rd, 2007 at 11:52pm #

    Thank you all for having such a powerful reaction to this column. In response to Pancho’s request, I have e-mailed the Dobbs Show the link to this article (SEE below). In response to Ed, I found your comments right where you left them.

    mikel weisser

    “I recently wrote a column posted on Dissident Voice which is in small part critical of Mr. Dobbs’ stance on immigration and his treatment of New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s initiative to license all drivers in the state of New York. When i went back and checked for comments, someone said they wished Mr Dobbs could read the column. It seems like a good idea, so here’s the link:

    Happy Reading,
    mikel weisser”

  10. Lee Hall said on November 3rd, 2007 at 11:54pm #

    As the term “illegal” seems to often be mistakenly conflated with the term “criminal” it’s worth considering the term “undocumented [migrant, resident, worker]” which better describes the reality of people’s lives. An then, as suggested here, call for open borders. All conscious beings should have the right to move freely over the face of the Earth.

    Thank you for airing this topic.

  11. Robert Dion said on November 4th, 2007 at 4:48am #

    Comrade Wiesless as a sovereign nation we have a right and an obligation to protect our country. I did so in Vietnam, whether you think that endeavor was a waste, I do not care. I felt it was my duty to go when asked by our elected officials. It was for country. For two hundred years men have been doing the same thing (at least most men). What has developed even with many mistakes is the best place to live in the world (as indicated by the numbers of people who want to come here).

    It was a great experiment by some revolutionaries and has endured the test of time. Now the new intellectuals want to change things that helped create what we are today. We have been a secular government but with judeo- christian ideas and some reminders of such, school prayer, god on our coins, god now in our pledge of allegiance and other areas that have not hindered our development. They must think these are positives!

    Immigration over the years certainly has driven our train and will continue to do so but not without our participation. We chose who is best for us. Things have changed so has the type of immigrant that is needed. We had the opening of the west, industrial revolution, and great upheavals in other lands and took in the starving masses because we could. This has changed. I feel environmentally we are reaching a saturation point both agriculturally and energy wise. Unlike many pro illegal immigration people I also do not believe we a have a job crisis, that could not be fixed by automation and a controllable temporary work program!

    Terrorism, crime and increased welfare recipients we do not need, we have our home grown variety. I am not a racist, nativist or xenophobe but believe in my heart we have nothing to gain to permit open borders or uncontrolled illegal alien invasion. The illegals are taking advantage of the American compassion and those that do not see it are looking for Eden…sorry but Adam bit the apple.

  12. erhtsdf said on November 4th, 2007 at 8:36am #

    The freaking idiots are at it again, as usual, turning the entire problem into Mexican bashing demagoguery. Someone accused Mexican illegals of being “thieves”. What an idiot, and what a poor understanding of human actions & behavior. It means spite is the only thing you’re able to relate to. Wonder why…
    If you know how Mexicans can “rebuild” their country, why don’t you tell them how to do it, rather than cowardly accusing them of thievery without even knowing a single one of them, in most likelihood? Even Lou Dobbs has said the Mexican workers he used to work with were very hard working, and that he had respect for them. Yet, that doesn’t even register with these stubborn, parroting “nativists”. It’s clear that their main objective in this is to bash people.

    Illegals are not taking advantage. Many of them are very grateful for every chance they’ve had, but you wouldn’t know since all you listen to is propaganda.

  13. Stephan Geras said on November 4th, 2007 at 7:58pm #

    I have great respect for people who work hard and strive for excellence, no matter what race or ethnicity, or color or belief. I think, however, that the freewheeling unfettered capitalism which has always disguised the “immigration” question in the language of american idealism has recently resorted to a more crude approach. People who choose to come here are willing slaves, not indentured, nor is there even a slight attempt to hide the slavery by claiming opportunity. The language debases work as “low level”, “unskilled”, and the facetious claim that “migrants take work that americans won’t do”. Actually, in my field, migrants take work at lower pay than many in my field get, making them very useful for profit and stifling honest competition. And it’s painfully obvious to me that their usefullness to profit is more important than the quality of their work which is never under scrutiny in this crude environment. It’s not productive to villify the people who come here to live a dream, but I can’t ignore the fact that that dream is pushing everyone, including the migrant who freely chooses to come here, into a downslide which is like an avalanche. And I do fall prey to anger directed at individuals, particularly ones who fatten their coffers in their homelands where american money is worth more. It’s the same crude capitalism at bottom which informs the whole process.

  14. CaliforniaCaucasian said on November 5th, 2007 at 10:30am #

    I do feel that Mexicans from Mexico are smart, hardworking and good natured. The problem these immigrants don’t see is that American Mexicans are and always will be a better mix then Mexico Mexicans, just like American French Canadian Irish German Polish American Indian Americans, or as I’ve been labeled “European”. What a joke. I feel we are all Americans and having grown up in Southern California (Anaheim) I was the only “European” around, in fact my mother couldn’t get job because she didn’t speak Spanish only English, turning discrimination on its head. I had plenty of close friends who where children of Mexican Immigrants, only difference was that they spoke English and their parents (bless their hearts) encouraged them to represent and embrace American values.
    Unfornutely, that was only 10% of my peers growing up, the rest of my “latino” “hispanic” “chicano” friends were proud Mexicans and waved Mexican flags and joined Mexican gangs all on American Soil (Sorry Mexico Mexicans America paid your corrupt country for this land long ago and your people wasted that too). It was cool to be a Mexican in SoCo and I must admit I liked having some Latino soul in my culture, but most only used their “Minority” status as a ploy. Mexico Mexicans would use the Spanish language to play the ingorance card in class while waiting to jump a lowly “Caucasian” after class, adding insult by slurring their threats using perfect English.
    The problem is that the American people have been convinced that diversity should out way unity and how can a country be uified when our English language isn’t even respected. Bottom line, Mexico will continue to send us thier tiered masses through the backdoors of liberty. Mexicans will never know freedom like Americans and hence will never rally with the courage to clean up their own country. All Americans want is respect for the Red, White and Blue and a plege to speak and use the English language. The rest will sort itself out. America is strong because it is a melting pot, and I am a proud product of generations of real “Diversity” a true American Mutt.

  15. mikel weisser said on November 5th, 2007 at 10:37pm #

    In response to the Cali Cauc’, i also am American and what i want is to follow the model Canada has adopted in response to their French speaking min0rity: require schools to teach ALL students both languages.

  16. CaliforniaCaucasian said on November 6th, 2007 at 9:31am #

    Mikel I do agree that the opportunity to learn another language is highly respectable, but what your are saying is that Americans should be forced to learn Spanish and for what, this is our country. Mexico has always been their and only now with millions of undocumented Mexicans (meaning they never had to learn English) in our country Americans should change our language? Should we become more like Mexico as they have set such a high standard of living that all there people flee to our country?
    The issue is that Canada has always had problems with the language barrier as the French Canadians use this as a way to distinguish themselves from the rest of Canada, true discrimination and social divide. Although I agree with you about learning a new language the Good Old U.S.A speaks English, we always have and always will. Do think that if American’s had to learn every language of every immigrant populous that ever migrated to this nation that we would be any better off today? We would be in shambles. And to now have to learn Spanish for lake immigrants who won’t repay this country is an insult to every other ethnicity that has every set foot on our shores. English unifies this country and allows all citizens to communicate in equal understanding.
    You do realize the cost that is involved in supporting multiple languages; printing Spanish along with English on every package just to be fair. If Americans are to learn another language why must it be Spanish? What about all the other thousands of languages that are represented in this country, are they no more important because the immigrants that brought them here actually learned to speak English instead? If it aint broke don’t fix it. To discredit English as our official language is to choose ignorance and claim the right to NOT communicate with your fellow Americans? It is the responsibility of the immigrant to change and integrate to our culture not foster ignorance and dissension. And the terrorists will love this. Just think how easy it will be for them to infiltrate our country if no one speaks the same language. I know personally that the minute I hear someone speak I can tell if they are an immigrant and I have the right to know what they are saying in public. Don’t give immigrants an excuse to speak any other language it will only divide this country further!
    For example, a kid was lost in the store the other day. I saw his mother across the way, but when I went to help him the boy could not understand my English, his mother only spoke Spanish. As a citizen I was concerned for the boy’s safety but because the mother only taught him Spanish I couldn’t help. Does this mean that I am wrong and that I am a bad American? Or do you think I should learn every ethnic language in this country just to be fare and not have to force a poor mother learn to embrace the language of her new country? Mikel you need to realize that what you suggest with forcing Americans to learn Spanish is anti-productive, backwards and sends the wrong message to an already growing dissident populous of confused Americans of Mexican decent. We must all be Americans regardless of color, religion or ethnicity and English is our language, to compromise is to destroy the sole attempt at a global community of truly diverse people communicating on the same level. THINK ABOUT IT!

  17. mikel weisser said on November 6th, 2007 at 10:39pm #

    Actually, while i appreciate all the discussion this column has generated, i don’t want to dally on this issue too much longer since today the Kucinich impeachment move has hit the airwaves and i need to get to working on a new column. However, I would like to spend a little time to respectfully refute a couple of points in your assertions.

    1) English the langauge of this country
    Going ahead and discounting the first 10-30 thousand years of occupancy for this land, in the US history era German was often more commonly spoken in the territorial US than English. Not surprising since nationality-wise there are more US citizens descended from German immigrants than any other country of origin (check out the histories of bilingual education). In the mid-1800s it got to the point that there was serious discussion of making German the official language.
    2) And i am not intending to bait you, but … i think more rightly it should be our ideals espoused in whatever language personally chosen that unite our country. The belief in honesty, integrity, hard work, compassion, a hope of fair reward for honest effort, a faith in ingenuity, respect for our fellow man, a willingness to help those less fortunate than ourselves, a willingness to stand up and even, when absolutely necessary, fight for what we believe in and most importantly a celebration, a championing of inclusion and diversity, THOSE ideas are what unite us; and they can be espoused in any language, or denied just as easily. As a teacher i see hatred, insistent ignorance, self interst, greed, and manipulation come in all colors from students, who haven’t been taught these ideals in any language.

    Growing up on the border of Texas, i too experienced ignorance and racist from some Hispanics. I was jumped beaten by gangs of toughs merely because i was a “bolejo”who wandered into the wrong neighborhood. Yeah, I hated it. But i was also abused and ostracized by white kids too.

    I am SURE you have met some Hispanics guilty of your accusations, but i betcha if you think about it, you’ll know that there are plenty of anglos who would embarrass you along the same lines as your disappointments with some of the Hispanics you’ve met.


  18. CaliforniaCaucasian said on November 7th, 2007 at 11:15am #

    Well put Mikel. As you have requested, this will be my last communication on the topic. As a fellow American who has experience the “Majority Minority” you speak with wisdom and hope for the continued success of the American experiment. However, I must insist that although there have been other languages in America’s past English has long been our prevailing language. As much as I agree that diversity is the spice of life, you have to admit that without English unifying such a diverse land we would never have made it to today? There would have been civil wars! From the wars we have fought to the social precedents of being the first nation in history to challenge many long standing status quos (slavery, we abolished it, women’s rights, yea we made that happen too) America has done it all using English to communicate. And I do believe that this unifying language has and always will be the key to our Melting Pot success. Other than that, if we ever hope to get off this planet, generate free energy, recognize all people as “Humans” and colonize our galaxy I can’t imagine there being a competition among languages, not unless it’s some alien species (and I don’t mean undocumented). The future must hold that one language will bind all others for the growth of humanity and sake of the human race. America has long since figured that piece of the puzzle out it’s just that we’ve never had to explain ourselves or defend the foundation of this fading truth and now must organize to defend the strength that one language has granted our diverse country for so long, the most diverse country in the world. Then again there is always Spanglish? Beam me up Scotty me duele la cabeza.

  19. stephan geras said on November 7th, 2007 at 11:46am #

    oh irony irony that makes a rose look like anything but a rose! The idealistic naieve slope Mr. weisser is sliding down leads to more totalitarian control than he can see. Isn’t everyone fighting for what they “believe” in? Isn’t justice and the public debate rigged to favor the rich? Isn’t institutionalized racism a secret on the block? Is the “word” mightier than the sword?
    As I say, “arbeit macht frei”…delicious irony.

  20. The rawest G ever said on April 22nd, 2009 at 6:42am #

    illegal immigration i wacked out