This I Believe

Enrique - Indio, California
Entered on October 21, 2006

This I disbelieve

It is for me an undisputable fact that institutions are made of men and women. Whoever should deny the laws are upheld by anything except the citizens themselves would be plainly wrong. All my life I have heard, and believed, that Americans are a God-fearing, law-abiding bunch. The temptation is great to look upon my former country, Mexico, with pity at its corrupt-ridden institutions. That pity turns into doubt when I lift my eyes to the news denouncing with heroic Americanism the rampant illegal immigration besieging the nation.

That doubt turns into outright disbelief when I go to the local Anna’s Taqueria in Brookline, Massachusetts. For a Californian, the sight of a successful Mexican restaurant in the very heart of America is an odd sight. Yet I cannot mistake the fact that I find behind the counters a mirror of myself. Most surely, illegal immigrants will hand-wrap my cheese-laden, over-sized burrito with American briskness and efficiency. I will relish on it. And so will all the law-abiding, goal oriented, up-right American customers on the other side of the counter. They are, for better or for worse, the mirror of my soul.

I cannot deny, I will not deny, illegal immigrants have broken the laws of this most democratic of countries. I also refuse, I cannot, I will not deny that small and large businesses alike all over America have also turned a blind eye to the authority of the law. Millions of illegal immigrants make a living in America simply because Americans are giving them jobs. It is Americans who are also breaking the laws. Not at a small scale, not in a spurious manner, but at unprecedented levels. One cannot walk into a restaurant, bite into an American pie, go into a college, and sit in a movie theatre, without finding at least one illegal immigrant facilitating the realization of the product or service.

Americans, that law-abiding bunch who reclaim my soul, give illegal immigrants jobs, take advantage of their cheap labor, and then blame them for breaking their laws. This I disbelieve: that Americans can allow an underclass with little privileges or rights, take advantage of them, and blame that very class for some of its social ills. Minutemen of America: don’t guard your borders, guard your countrymen.

I know, for I do not lower my face in shame in saying I too was an illegal immigrant once. Through no fault of my own my parents brought me to this country, which is now my country. Through no fault of my own I went to the university as a student with questionable legal status. And now, I assume the responsibility of turning to my countrymen: You are breaking the law, not a foreign group, not an unguarded border, not an indecisive government. This I believe, illegal immigrants make a living in America because Americans give them jobs.