I wish people would stop sending my mother hate-filled email “forwards” about immigrants to the U.S. What kills me is that most of these tracts come from her Irish acquaintances who apparently have no appreciation for what our own people went through as newcomers to America.
Laboring immigrants come to America because they are poor and because there is work. It’s human nature. Sick of living in a hovel? Sick of watching your children die of avoidable disease? Pick up and go. Do what ya gotta do. The fact that your own country is politically and economically screwed up is not a problem the average starving person can solve. The fine points of contradictory and bureaucratic U.S. policies are lost on you. You go.
Just like the Irish and Italians who came before them, Mexicans are largely hard-working, church-going, family-loving people. And they send their money back home to support their poor relatives. They may be happy to find work cleaning your swimming pools or picking your apples, but they are also heartbroken for the land they love. And they just might be angry — angry at how their own country is screwed up by corrupt politics and angry at being portrayed as lazy, dirty, thieving animals by the very people who enjoy buying the cheap strawberries they picked (cheap because the farmers paid illegals a fraction of the wage they would have to pay to unionized Americans).
My message to the people to insist on circulating bigotry-filled emails: get off your high-horse about being in the “rightful majority” and do something that is helpful. Advocate for good immigration and labor policies that balance both our economic and humanitarian interests. Advocate for more effective policies around drug trafficking and law enforcement. Advocate for corporations and politicians to play fair. But don’t just strut around huffing and puffing about impoverished brown people — it makes you look like an asshole.