Immigration Protests – WHY?

nycprotestOver the past week, or so, there have been several thousand protests regarding the proposed HR 4437.  I have a question for everyone who is protesting this legislation.


Okay, here’s my argument.  Of the thousands of people who crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, in protest, a good many were carrying signs that said “I AM NOT A CRIMINAL.”  Well, folks, you may very well be correct.  If you came into this country, legally…  If you have a legal visa…  If you pay any appropriate taxes…  If you’re not harboring an illegal immigrant…  Then no, you are not a criminal.

However, let’s take a look at the people who come into this country illegally.  The ones that would be defined as “criminals…”

  • They enter the country illegally (without Visa, permission, etc…), often crossing the border at places where such action is prohibited.
  • That’s considered breaking the law.
  • By breaking the law, one commits a crime.
  • By committing a crime, one is therefore, a criminal.

Let’s review.  If you enter the country illegal, YOU ARE A CRIMINAL.

What about the people already here, legally?  No, they’re not criminals.  I understand that there are some issues with HR 4437 that may make people uncomfortable.  Let’s look at this from the standpoint of someone who was born and raised in America – namely, me.

Say I want to get a job.  Because of the number of immigrants to this country, a lot of blue collar jobs (customer service operator, some tech support positions, yard care crews, and a good many construction jobs) are unavailible to me, because I speak no foreign language.

Due to the large numbers of illegal immigrants, I find it difficult to obtain many jobs at a livable wage because those positions have been filled, often by illegal immigrants who accept a smaller pay rate.  Since they don’t pay taxes, the money may very well be enough for them to live on.  Me?  I can’t get those jobs unless I take them at such a low pay rate, that I couldn’t survive (after taxes).

There’s a big question, here.  Who’s to blame?  The immigrants, or the companies?  My answer? Both.  The companies are to blame, because they hire illegal immigrants to the exclusion of the American work force.  The illegal immigrants are to blame because they are here, in the first place.

Let me ask you another question…  I don’t know the answer to this, so perhaps someone could answer it for me.  I’m willing to place a small wager on what I think the answer is.

Let’s say I go to Mexico.  I cross the border in the middle of the night, running into Mexico, where I meet up with a small group of people who bring me into the closest major city.  From there,  I make my way into Mexico.  I then, speaking either no, or extremely limited (where is the bathroom, is your daughter eighteen, etc…) Spanish, go out and attempt to get a job.

  1. Will I be hired? (Probably not, I don’t speak Spanish.  If I am hired, I’ll likely be working with people who do speak English, or on all-English speaking work crews)
  2. Will I be payed the same as a Mexican national?  (Probably not)
  3. What happens if the Mexican authorities find out I’m living and working in the country, without their knowledge?  (I’ll likely either be arrested and sentenced to jail time, or arrested and deported.)

So, can someone tell me what WOULD happen?  How close am I?  I’m willing to bet I’m pretty close.

Gosh, look at that, that’s pretty much the same as it is in the United States…

Listen…  I don’t mean to be trite, rude, or mean, but immigration – especially illegal immigration – is a big problem in America, today.  It’s impacting the ability for American citizens to make a reasonable living.  It’s also impacting where our tax dollars go.

I understand that conditions may not be the best in Mexico (and other countries), but that is no excuse for becoming a criminal and illegal entering this country.  The United States is not a free-for-all, come one – come all place.  Perhaps we used to be, but we’re not anymore.  Why?  Because we’ve grown, folks.  We’re now having to take care of our own.  That gets pretty damned difficult when we have to take care of everyone else’s, too.

Back to the original topic..  If you’re protesting HR 4437, then please explain to me your reasons.  I can tell you right now, if it’s because you think that illegal immigrants aren’t criminals, I can tell you right now, you’re not going to change my mind on that.  If it’s for any other reason, then please feel free to educate me.

I appreciate you sticking with me on this, Houston…  I know this post is fairly poor quality, and tends to jump around a bit… I’m upset, and I’m probably not thinking my straightest… But I had to get some thoughts out.  Perhaps in the coming weeks, I’ll attempt to make some better sense out of my thoughts.

12 Comments so far

  1. John (unregistered) on April 2nd, 2006 @ 9:22 am

    You’re ignoring the relevant questions.

    1. Why do illegal immigrants break the law by coming here? It’s not like it’s a fun thing – you get to be separated from your loved ones, risk your life to cross the border, pay someone lots of money to get you over here, and then have to hide from the law. Why would someone do this?

    2. What is the actual measuable impact on the economy, positive and negative? You assert that it’s a net negative. Show us the numbers. “Everybody knows” doesn’t cut it; over the years “everybody knew” that the earth was flat, that the sun rotated around it, and so on.

    3. The language thing is a red herring. Spanish-speaking immigrants of all stripes learn English relatively faster than immigrants of previous generations acquired langage abilities.

    There’s a lot more heat than light in this discussion. I always find looking for root causes (think: disparities between the US and Mexican economies) and factual information helps.

  2. L. Allen (unregistered) on April 2nd, 2006 @ 9:28 am

    It is about illegals not immigration.
    I am appalled that we are having to fight to fly our flag, follow our laws, practice our Christian religion, and express our moral beliefs without being persecuted or called prejudice.
    Hello!!!! Has everyone forgotten we live In AMERICA. One nation under God.

    It seems everyone who comes to our country from another country has more rights than we do. We mustn’t offend anyone. Well, let me tell you as an American I am offended.

    When I travel to other countries,including Mexico I am expected to follow their laws, have proper documentation, learn their language or get someone to communicate for me and adapt to their culture. Signs and communications are not written in English. The countrymen who live their do not have to push one on the phone to hear their language.
    I am not allowed to protest their rules/laws. And guess what !! if I have a baby there, it is not a citizen of that country.
    If I get sick well, I have to pay for my health care or fly home fast.
    America is the land of the free. Freedom to worship, pray out loud, read what we want including the Bible, express our opinions, uphold the constitution and fly our flag with a great since of pride and patriotism while remembering and celebrating those who gave their lives to protect it. We have the freedom to put those in office who uphold these freedoms for Americans, oh yeah and pay taxes. We are US citizens…. This is our country.

    It is not the land of the freeloader and anyone who wants to change it to become another country. If other countries, their laws, their culture, their beliefs are so wonderful then why does so many come to America?

    I am so tired! It is time we stand as American Citizens, be heard. and demand those who come to this country, come the legal way, abide by our laws, and adapt to our language. If they want to see their country’s flag flying and speak their language then they need to go home.

    I have to wonder how many of the students who walked out of the public schools (which are supported by US citizen’s taxes) disrupting classes and even putting others at risk of danger are here legally?

    I have to wonder how illegals can stand on our corners, urinating in public, shouting obscenities and disrupting communities, committing crimes, drive around even drunk sometimes with no insurance are not picked up and deported.

    I am so tired of our rights being infringed upon. Illegals do not do the jobs Americans want do. They take away jobs that high school and college kids need to help pay their way through school, because guess what!! we don’t get that free either. They take away many construction jobs which are needed by blue collar workers.
    They are taxing our public health care system, our jails, our emergency providers and hospitals, our law enforcement, bringing in disease, our educational system and now our children in our schools are in danger from protesters who are subject to become violent. And lets not forget the terrorist who can walk right across the river with them.

    Oh yes and by the way, I am tired of supporting those who CHOOSE not work, US citizens or not.

    What is wrong with us… For peaks sake quit sitting around the kitchen table griping and stop this before it is to late and we are no longer in America.

    L. Allen

  3. Steelsun (unregistered) on April 2nd, 2006 @ 10:50 am

    They hate the conditions in their country, so they come here. Illegally.

    When they don’t like what’s happening here, they protest.

    Why the hell are not they protesting in their home country? Change their own home countries first before they try to change ours!

  4. Eric Scalf (unregistered) on April 2nd, 2006 @ 10:28 pm

    TO L. ALLEN:

    You stated: “I am appalled that we are having to fight to fly our flag, follow our laws, practice our Christian religion, and express our moral beliefs without being persecuted or called prejudice.”

    Welcome to my side of the fence, son. I’ve been persecuted for years because I am Pagan, as opposed to Christian. From the very people that swear up and down that this country is the greatest and we should fight for our freedoms. Yet, I am told I shouldn’t be what I am – despite the freedom giving me the right to be so.

    That’s another post for another day, and another blog… I just wanted to make the point that I know precisely what you mean, and that – believe me – this ain’t a new concept in this country.

    (As for your comments on immigration, I rather agree with you.)

  5. Eric Scalf (unregistered) on April 2nd, 2006 @ 10:36 pm

    1) Because they believe they will have a better life in the United States. Our immigration laws, however, I believe, only give people a certain amount of time to find a job, and if they enter the country legally and attempt to find a job paying “legal” wages, they will likely fail, as their illegal counterparts are taking the jobs at reduced wages. Therefore, it makes more sense for them to enter illegally, than it does legally. (This is opinion. I don’t think there are any hard facts for this one, unless we start asking illegals, and I don’t speak enough Spanish to do that.

    2) I don’t have this information, and I’m not sure where to find a single resource of it. If I find one, I’ll either back my claims up with data, or I will retract. Until that time, let my claims stand as opinion.

    3) You mention “The language thing is a red herring. Spanish-speaking immigrants of all stripes learn English relatively faster than immigrants of previous generations acquired langage abilities.”.

    Unfortunately, there are still a great many Spanish-speaking immigrants that either refuse to learn English, or refuse to speak it.

    When I was a cab driver, I used to have a LOT of Spanish speaking customers. Several of them spoke no English, despite their English-speaking companions stating that they had been in the country well over a year. By that time, they should have at least learned a couple of words.

    Let’s add to this the guys that spoke only in Spanish to me, and when I said something in English to them, I was responded to with “Que?” Then, when they get out of my taxi, I hear them greet a friend going “Hey esse, what’s up?” in almost perfect English.

    The language thing is two-fold. One, some (a good many?) are refusing to learn it. Two, some are refusing to speak it, even if they do learn it.

  6. Oscar (unregistered) on April 2nd, 2006 @ 11:46 pm

    I stand aside as I see people of my color walk the streets in protest of this immigration reform. I am American but the blood that runs through my veins is Mexican. I see both views on this issue.

    I understand the United States of America is getting crowded and in danger as it is, and some action needs to be taken in order to take control of our borders and security.

    But I also see and “understand” the views of those Latinos protesting. You have to see and “live” the life of a Latino to “understand” their illegal action of coming into the United States which believe me is not easy. Let me change that sentence… “You have to live in the conditions of that of a Latino or any immigrant to understand their reason of why”

    Look up the number of people who die at the crossing of the river and the endless desert walk.

    Why would they risk so much? What could make YOU risk so much?

    What could make you leave your family?

    To go into a country you know nothing about and don’t even know if you’ll make it through the day.

    To go into a country where you know you are not welcomed and even yet hated.

    To “walk” across a river cause you do not know how to swim for there are no pools in Mexico.

    To walk a heated desert without water.

    To dodge bullets of ranchers aiming at you.

    To run from the “migra” as they hunt you down. To try again even after getting caught.

    To wake up at 5 in the morning to stand on corners waiting for that one white man needing help with work.

    To jump into his truck not knowing what job your going to be asked to do.

    To jump into his truck not knowing that at the end of your hardwork your actually going to get paid.

    To work hard and try to impress this whtie guy so hopefully next time he needs help he can call you.

    To wake up and do it all over again.

    Answer my question please! What can lead you to do all of this?

    The love you have for your family and knowing you have to go against all odds in order to feed them, cloth them, and shelter them.

    The fear of raising your children in poverty knowing the life they will expect as they grow in their country.

    The impossibility of being able to afford your family alive in a country that is so expensive and where your monthly salary is what you can make in a weeks work in the US.

    Yes, I guess my parents are criminals. They are in the United States illegally. But if that makes them criminals and felons… THEN I am a PROUD son of criminals. And I am very thankful to them for sacraficing their life to bring me into the world of the United States which I know is alot better than their home country. Yes, I have seen my father work hard daily going from different job to different job. Jumping from one crew of workers to another… I have seen my grandmother cook food in order to sell to get enough income for our rent and expenses. I myself can still remember our fun weekends going into trash cans looking for aluminum cans to sell. Ha ha… competing with my brothers and sisters on who had the most cans. Then going to the park and eating my moms “tortillas con sal” and playing with my father.

    Can you tell me how many American families either black, white, or whatever race you would like have done this? Look at the percentage of the races in government housing. What are the percentage for Hispanics compared to others? What are the percentage of hispanics compared to other races on getting government help?

    Why do they come illegally and not the legal way?

    If I told you “You could have a better life for yourself, your children, your wife, and your family but you have to cross that river and that desert”

    Can you honestly tell me that you could wait and AFFORD to do it the legal way?

    The process is very long up to 2-5 years. Can you tell your family to wait that long?

    The process is very expensive… VERY… Would you rather feed your children with that money. Or make them starve and invest it in something that MAY OR MAY NOT pay off at the end.

    Please look at the requirements of coming into the US Legally. If it was the same requirements for us to go into Mexico most people wouldnt even qualify to do so. And in Mexico most people do not.


    Would you rather take the fast track, even though its dangerous but more likely to be a success. But you have to risk your life in the process.

    Umm.. so much to think about. And so much I wanted to respond to.

    One comment I found disturbing is the following:

    “I have to wonder how illegals can stand on our corners, urinating in public, shouting obscenities and disrupting communities, committing crimes, drive around even drunk sometimes with no insurance are not picked up and deported.”

    I dont see how this could be directed to just immigrants. I know immigrants are not the only people out there doing this I see lots of broken Americans doing this. And if you look into todays ghetto communities I dont think you will just see immigrants but most Americans.

    I understand both sides and I see what both sides want out of this…

    But if I had to choose between having my parents or staying in this country… I would choose my parents as the criminals that they are…

  7. shawn (unregistered) on April 3rd, 2006 @ 6:04 am

    Hi Oscar,

    You raised some interesting points. It’s indeed of a lot of value to understand what motivates someone to cross the river and desert for nothing more than a chance at something that might or might not be better.


    A man leaves his family in Reynosa to cross over to McAllen or somewhere close. He takes the “coyote express” and illegally makes it to his destination and starts living a substandard version of the “American Dream”.

    What we have to ask in this scenario is:
    1. Is he really better off?
    2. What impact is he really having?

    Based on this scenario, I would totally support any legislation that would make it more difficult to cross the border illegally as I hope it would save lives. People run too much risk when they cross the border and for such a great risk there is hardly any return value.

  8. Maria (unregistered) on April 6th, 2006 @ 5:55 pm

    Please allow me to answer Shawn’s questions:

    Q- Is he really better off?
    A- Yes. Most definitely. Although he will sacrifice being with his family as they grow, he will be able to give them food and clothing. Build them a house; possibly provide an automobile. But most importantly, give his children hopes for an education. An education that, in many instances, he wasn’t able to get himself as a child because he had to work for miserable wages just to help his family get by.

    Q- What impact is he really having?
    A- What part of feeding and clothing his family are you not understanding? That wouldn’t impact you? Oh, or did you mean what impact is he really having here in the U.S. economy? Good question and one that I am excited to answer. Let’s see…

    If he’s getting paid through a payroll system (even with false documents), they are still deducting Social Security, Medicare and Income taxes. He more than likely won’t be claiming any kind of return so he’s not entitled to a refund from the get go. So where does the deducted money go?

    If he does file his taxes and has applied for an ITN number that the Internal Revenue Service is HAPPY to give him to do so, then he’s doing his share. Either way, he’s paying taxes. Anyone who says illegal immigrants are getting a free ride is seriously, no grossly, mistaken. Besides income taxes, they pay taxes on everything else they buy that is taxable.

    When was the last time you saw the Anderson’s or the Jackson’s picking fruit? Or working with hoes in the tomato fields for as long as there is daylight? It’s not going to happen. Ever! And if it does, you will remember my words every time you go to pay $10-$15 for a pound of (produce of your choice). That’s if there are any farmers left to grow the fruits/veggies once the lazy Americans realize that it’s too hot, too hard and too poorly paid to work like that.

    Ever clean a toilet that someone else crapped in or bloodied up and didn’t/couldn’t flush? I have. It’s nasty. I hated it and I especially hated it because the entire time I kept telling myself that I’m a citizen and shouldn’t have to do it. I’m “better” than this, I’d think. Someone else can do it; I’m outta here! And for 5.15 an hour? Don’t think so.

    It is a great risk to illegally pass the border; I agree and I lived it first hand with my own father. However, there IS a great return value for those who are successful (and, like it or not, that’s in most cases). The value is in the HOPE where there otherwise would be none.

  9. Colette (unregistered) on April 10th, 2006 @ 9:10 pm

    I am an immigrant. I was originally born in Greece. I legally moved here many years ago. When I moved here, I worked as an au pair. I didn’t enjoy it very much, but did it whilst studying English. I do not understand the arrogance of the latino immigrant. He/she comes to this country and demands rights and priviledges, yet refuses to learn English and cries foul (racism) when someone refuses to accomdodate him. I don’t have the luxury of having people learn Greek, so I could feel at home. I believe that if you CHOOSE to move to a country, you should be respectful of their laws, but above all, be thankful. I now have a good job and vote. I vote for candidates based on their platform, not their etnicity and not because they’re my kind of people. I am proud of the Greek flag, but I most certainly respect the American one. I believe that if Mexico is such a terrible place, Mexicans should fight the system. They should vote and be more active THERE. If I moved to Mexico, I doubt that I would be allowed to be so arrogant as to be so demanding.

  10. Eric Scalf (unregistered) on April 10th, 2006 @ 10:25 pm

    Colette, thank you! You not only took the words from my mouth, you put them in a way I never could, with an authority I never could.

  11. Oscar (unregistered) on April 13th, 2006 @ 12:32 am


    I have to respect your opinion as an individual. But I see a different view to what you are saying.

    Yes, you are an immigrant, but did you sacrafice your life comming into this country? Were you able to come into this country legally? And if so how long was the process and how much did it cost you? Did you have family here in the United States or did you come here empty handed and started from scratch as most latino immigrants do?

    Once again I have to say that you have to be a latino immigrant in order to understand. Yes, you are an immigrant and yet do not understand the life of a struggling latino immigrant. And if it was so easy to fight the Mexican system then belive me, Mexicans would not be here. Read their history and tell me what else could they have done to fight the system? Tell me how Cuba could fight their system?

    We are so easy to criticize another race but before we do so we should read their history and try to understand them… something most people have not done here?

    Yes, you learned English. Answer me this, How were you able to work two full time jobs or maybe just even one full time job and learn english? Most latinos have to work two jobs in order to pick themselves up in the US while still helping their families im Mexico. But dont get me wrong, as you know Houston has many free English classes. I myself tutored many at the community college. And I have to say that I felt bad for many because a few worked grave yard shifts and yet still managed to come to class, and others brought their children to wait in our lobbies as they went to class.

    You feel latino immigrants are “refusing” to learn English. But I am going to have to ask you to go out into Houston and walk into these classes and see how full they are. It might seem like they are not trying, but that is because their are so many latinos here. If there were such as many Greeks here as their are Latinos, I am sure they would be just arrogant as you say and demanding rights. But I myself have not seen Greeks around Houston since they come in low numbers.

    Crying out racism? Please tell me when was the last time you saw that in Houston or in latino communities? If Latinos do not know English in the US we feel guilty because we feel handicap… but we do not blame others for not understanding us… much less call it racism. And even if we were victims of racism we suck it up and keep fighting… we dont have time to cry over it… we still have families to support.

    We too respect the American flag and still hold pride in our fallen country’s flag. Many complained of Latinos carrying their country’s flag along with the US flag. There was a purpose for that… this country is made of immingrants… and the flags you saw were just a few of the many.

    Well the protest this past 10th was pretty peaceful as we expected. But to my surprise Ms. Sheila Jackson made an appearance and was there walking with us. Then I saw the Black Panthers dressed in nice suits also walking with us til the end. It was such a great feeling of unity. But my favorite part of it all was this small section that we walked by in which white and black Americans were holding up signs that read, “America would not be America without Immigrants” and my favorite one,

    “To all immigrants: America Thanks You!”

  12. Eric Scalf (unregistered) on April 13th, 2006 @ 1:15 am

    It’s not a matter of understanding the Latino immigrant. It’s a matter of understanding the situation. This isn’t a race, or even culture thing. It’s a situation thing. People who are not Latino sometimes find themselves in the same situation, and do everything they can to immigrate to the United States.

    When I was in elementary school, a kid I went to school with was from the (then) USSR. He had been in the country only three years. His family had managed to get a tourist visa to the U.S. (how they managed to get out of Russia, I don’t know), and used every penny they had in savings to get here. They then did whatever they could as work, until the father got lucky enough to find a company who needed his unique skills, and was willing to not only sponsor him, but pay the legal fees involved in his illegal status case. Certainly, he came out on top… but had he not gotten that stroke of luck, he would be just like a lot of Latino immigrants… struggling.

    The reason people are so hot on the Latino immigration issue, is because of the massive numbers – comparitively – of Latinos that are pouring into the United States.

    As for Latinos refusing to speak English, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Two instances:
    I used to be a taxi driver. I picked up a guy from a Latino bar, and took him home. When he got in, I asked him where he was going, and he said “Weert” (Wirt, meaning Wirt Rd). He did not understand my asking him which apartment complex, and he actually ended up living off of Wirt, in a neighborhood. He attempted to give me directions in Spanish, and when I shruged and apologized, saying I didn’t understand, he simply said “Aqui” and pointed. When I dropped him off, he paid and got out. I had my windows down, and I heard him greet a friend in perfect (although accented) English (“Hey, what’s up man? How’s your baby?”). He had simply refused to speak English with me.

    Another example. I worked for a GNC at one time. When working there, I was coming out from the back room in time to catch a woman asking my manager if anyone who worked there spoke Spanish. My manager said, “no, I’m sorry, we don’t have any Spanish speakers on staff, right now.” The woman began yelling at my manager, asking how she could not have any spanish speakers, and what would happen if her mother – who only spoke spanish – wanted to come in, how would we serve her, etc.. etc.. etc.. When my manager asked how long her mother had been in the country, and could she suggest a good place that has free language lessons, the woman said her mother had been there for seven years, and claimed she was too old to have to learn a new language (this woman couldn’t have been over 25, herself. It’s possible her mother was quite older, but in general her mother would probably be between 40 – 55).

    I’m sorry, but in my experience, some Latinos refuse to speak English, some refuse to learn English, and some believe WE should be the ones to have to learn Spanish.

    Look, all I’m saying is that the United States has too many immigrants coming in. The majority of immigrants are Latino, so of course thats where the government is looking. Is this the only place they’re looking? No.

    I hate to say it, but we have enough trouble taking care of our own. Why should we have to take care of someone who comes here illegally, too?

    By the way, did you know that if I attempted to cross the border into Mexico, illegally, the Mexican border patrols could shoot me on sight?

    yeah. That’s still illegal, here. People who are found to do it, are prosecuted.

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