Note: Houston Metroblog is a team, and as such, we each have our own opinions and thoughts. So, this article is what I think and what I feel, not necessarily what the others do.
News sources, blogs and forums all have some pretty interesting things to say about the immigration Issue. The consensus seems to be that an “underclass of outlaws” (Mexican immigrants) are hurting America through job stealing, crime, welfare free-loading and non-assimilation. And that when students rises up against these claims, they get reported on, pundited, made fun of, arrested and cited. Wow. We really know how to roll out the welcome mat don’t we.
The Houston Chronicle quoted a man saying:
“The whole thing just makes my blood boil,” said Bruce R. Wing, a 52-year-old Missouri City resident. “I want them all out of here.”
Unfortunately, this seems to be the sentiment of a lot of people lately. This that statement is not about jobs, that’s not about heath care, its not about assimilation. That sentiment is blatantly racist. Through proposed Immigration Reform, we are exposing a (not so) hidden prejudice against an entire race of people. A race that makes up more than one third of Houston.
It seems that some of the points people are making stem from a lack of understanding. So, maybe I can help explain some things…
Not all Hispanics are immigrants
Shocking, I know. But we aren’t. We have a saying: “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.” Like many many families here, mine has been in Texas and Louisiana for generations, long before this became America. Most of us were born and raised in this country. We contribute to the society, defend the homeland and live the American dream. As much citizens as anyone else.
Illegal Immigrants do not free load on welfare or healthcare
May I stress this point? Illegal immigrants cannot get welfare. They just can’t. You have to be a legal documented resident and go through background checks, fingerprinting, iris scanning and reference giving. There is no way that any significant portion of illegal immigrants can get through all of that. With healthcare, most immigrants are too scared to go to public hospitals out of fear of being reported. In fact, that fear makes sure they stay out of almost all government institutions or do things like call the cops for public disturbances or ambulances for emergencies.
Illegal Immigrants are a drain on the economy because they don’t pay taxes.
Really? What about sales tax? Or gas tax? Or tobacco tax or all the other taxes from buying things. They pay those taxes. And lots of it. Look at the advertising lately, have you noticed a lot more commercials, billboards and ads are geared towards the Hispanic market? That’s because the Hispanic buying power, immigrant or not, is massive. So, with all that buying, all that spending money, they’re building local economy on a huge scale.
What about property taxes, school taxes, etc? Well, they’re poor. If they were legal, they still wouldn’t own property, so they still wouldn’t pay property taxes. Does anyone complain about other low ownership areas of town? Do we need to deport Southwest Houston or Acres Homes or Pasadena because many people don’t own their own homes? No, we don’t.
America is all Immigrants
Save the Native Americans, everyone here are immigrants. Americans ancestors were immigrants. and they were accepted into this country or they founded this country or whatever, but at one point, they came here on boat or plane, with their own culture and identity, seeking a better life, more freedom and to work. Today’s Mexican immigrants come to America for exactly the same reasons everyone’s ancestors did.
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” – Inscription on the Statue of Liberty
Culture vs. Citizenship
Yes, the kids are waving Mexican flags. Yes, they are in America. But understand that the Mexican flag represents something more / other than the country that flies it. It represents a culture, the culture of those kids. So when they brandish the flag, they’re showing support for who they are. This is just the same as going to Boston and seeing Irish flags or going to Chicago and seeing Italian flags. Its about heritage and love for your people.
America was never intended to replace heritage. It was never designed to strip culture and identity, it was supposed to be a place where we can all live in one place together but still be who we are. It is the poor soul who has lost his own culture. So, wave Mexican flags, wave Japanese flags, wave American flags, but most of all be an American yourself by loving other cultures.
To sum this up:
Remember that when people talk about Immigrants, they are talking about people. Generally good people with lives, dreams, children, wants and desires. They aren’t statistics, they aren’t an “underclass of outlaws,” they aren’t refuse. They’re people just like us who want to live and work. Immigrants want to pursue happiness and life and… hmm… that sounds familiar…
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies