U.S. Immigration, Oconoluftee Style

We have a lot to cover today, so ya'll make yourself some coffee and get comfy.

Breakfast this morning is lightly scrambled eggs, fresh hot biscuits and thick slices of tomato. There is something magical about fresh summer tomatoes with hot biscuits on a weekend morning that just makes everything right. It's hard to find a tomato that tastes like it should anymore, the ones in the grocery stores are tasteless, spongy blobs. Normally, I limit my tomato purchases to the little market here in town that sells fresh produce, but at the grocery store last night I found a basket of Grainger County tomatoes. Now, I don't know exactly where in Tennessee Grainger county is, but I know that if you see a tomato with a Grainger County sticker on it, it's good stuff. The soil there must be a mixture of spun gold and horse manure.

As I enjoyed my breakfast this morning, I thought about the fact that most of the tomatoes you find in the area surrounding Frog Pond Holler are picked by migrant farm workers from south of the border. There's been a lot of hullabaloo about immigration laws and the like in the media lately and I've refrained from chiming in with my two cents worth, but the time has come for me to voice my opinion. While I agree that the laws are flawed and are desperately in need of some tweaking here and there, I'm uncomfortable with the way some citizens of this fine country use the inadequacies of laws written by OUR government as a vehicle of hate against human beings of other nationalities. If I lived in a less privileged country, by God I'd be looking for a better life for my family, fighting tooth and nail to fulfill my dreams and doing whatever I could to survive. Hell, it's what got my ancestors here from Scotland, England, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, France and unspecified countries of the Mediterranean.

Yes, the laws need improvement. No one has the right to break the law any more than I do. Should they learn English? Yes, but they should also be encouraged to preserve their native language and teach it to their children. Languages of this earth are being lost and it's a shameful thing.

If any of you fine citizens of our country are having a hard time understanding my point here, why don't you just come on down to Frog Pond Holler. We'll all pile up in the hippy van and go on an educational field trip down to the reservation, where we can tour the Cherokee museum or attend their fabulous theatrical production, "Unto These Hills." Ya'll will enjoy the story, it's all about immigration and how some European folks came to a new land, found some people with dark skin and different ways. The following is an excerpt from the synopsis:

People promised the Cherokee land, money, citizenship, friendship and
protection if only they would move. The Cherokee even argued amongst themselves
as to whether they should stay, move or fight. In the end, the U.S. government
forced their removal and more than four thousand people died from hunger,
disease, freezing cold and relentless heat.

Four Thousand People. A people with links to my ancestors in every branch of my family tree. My great grandmother's people.

The Cherokee have been struggling to save their native language and in recent years have begun teaching it to the students enrolled in the reservation schools. It is now a required subject. Pride in where you came from is not to be unpatriotic. I challenge each one of you to show me how your ancestors came to be in this country if not through emigrating from another.

Yes the borders should be protected. Yes there should be adequate documentation for everyone entering the United States. But, that does not mean that we assume that every person we encounter who speaks a different language, is here illegally. It does not mean that we whisper when we see them in the grocery store. It does not mean that it's okay to yell hate inspiring words at other human beings.

Stop hatin' ya'll.


the gritlet said...

I'll tell you my biggest problems with the idea of amnesty, and it ties right in to what you said about immigration for the purpose of betterment; to me amnesty will just perpetuate the AWFUL inadequacies faced my minority immigrant workers.

Daddy works for a construction company, and he gets the shaft on getting paid because his company is cheap. He works with a lot of Mexican immigrants, some legal, others not so much. Some of them first generation Americans. Many of them have been with the company longer than my dad. Most of them get paid an average of three dollars less than he does for doing the same work.

The problem isn't that "Mexicans are taking our jobs". The problem is the jobs don't pay enough in the first place, so Americans won't take them unless they have to. Recent immigrants who have little understanding of the cost of living, of the currency exchange rate, and of the language are screwed over time and time again. Before we can do anything about immigration, we must punish our companies for exploiting immigrant workers, both in the United States, AND in their own country.

Heh, sorry for that. Just adding my 2 cents. Time has a great article about this. I'll try to send my copy y'alls way once I'm done with it. :)

Tori Lennox said...

Amen, sister!

Mahala said...

Gritlet: Never appologize for adding your two cents!! This country needs more intelligent discussion.

Tori: and Amen :)

Anonymous said...

*clapping hands* that was a great post. Very true and to the point. I live in SE AR, farm land, there are many illegals here working for nothing, farmers are not going broke, they house several families together and pay them next to nothing and work them from sun up til way past sundown. I know many legals that work for farmers also and expect them to support a family bringing home 350.00 a week. Companies, farmers, business ppl, they should live for 1 month what they pay their help.
I could go on and on...