On Immigration

June 20, 2014 § 8 Comments

Earlier this week, I was told I shouldn’t be living in the United States because I don’t “love America.”  Dismissing this comment was easy enough, it came in response to the fact I am not cheering for the US at the World Cup (France, Argentina, and then any underdog, if you must know).  But. Yesterday, at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, a wealthy-looking, white, middle-aged man went on a rant about immigrants (not knowing I am one, he assumed because I was also white and middle-class, I must be American).  Something was on FoxNews on the TV in the lounge, I wasn’t paying attention.  I presume that’s what set this guy off.  He told me that immigrants do not belong in the United States, that they do not bring anything to the country, that they’re a drain on the resources of “this great nation.”  He opined that no immigrants whatsoever should be let into the country.  He didn’t go so far as to suggest they be rounded up and deported, though I have seen that opinion expressed on Twitter a few times.  At any rate, when I told him I was an immigrant, he looked a little confused for a second and then said, “Oh, I don’t mean you.”  I pointed out he clearly did, he said “all immigrants” are a drain and that “none” should be let in.  I walked away, leaving him looking like the idiot he was.

This unsettled me.  It’s one thing for an idiot to get mad at me for not cheering for the US in the World Cup.  That’s just knee-jerk idiocy.  It’s another for a guy to have a well-formulated, if ignorant, argument about the cost of immigration.  And before someone dismisses this as “well, that’s Texas,” let me point out that Texas is an immigrant-rich society, and not just Mexicans and other Hispanics, but also South and South East Asians.  And, for the most part, Texas, at least the cities, have integrated cultures.

At any rate, I stewed over this the rest of the day and on the flight home to Boston.  And then I got a cab home. My cabbie was from Guinea.  He couldn’t be much older than his early 30s, and he said he’s been in the US for 11 years, and made sure to note he has a Green Card.  We talked about the heat (it was hot here yesterday), the World Cup, and Montréal, and we spoke some in French.  I was his last fare of the day, the end of a 12-hour shift, 6am-6pm.  The end of a 6-day run driving a cab around Boston and the North Shore.  Today, he was up at 3am to get to work at 4am, at Dunkin’ Donuts, where he worked 4-12, as a baker.  Tomorrow, he’s back in his cab, 6am-6pm, but he is off Monday.  He works 60-70 hours a week driving a cab, and another 8-16 hours baking at Dunkin’ Donuts for a very simple reason: he needs to take care of his parents, his brother, his nieces and nephews back in Guinea.  He hasn’t been home in four years, but he keeps working to send money home.  Meanwhile, he’s also got a son here in the States, who he gets to see sometimes when he’s not working, though he supports his kid.

We often talk about how tired we are, because we’re always busy, working, etc.  But this guy was exhaustion personified.  He had dark rings under his eyes, and though he was at least pretending to be happy, his exhaustion came through.  And I thought, well, here is the face of immigration to the United States (or Canada. Or Britain.  Or France.  Or Germany).  A guy working himself to the bone at two jobs, partly to get himself ahead a little bit, but also to take care of his son, and to take care of his family back home.  He estimated if he just had to worry about himself and his son, he could quit Dunkin’ Donuts and only work 3-4 days a week driving a cab.  But, he has responsibilities and obligations.

I enjoyed talking to him, though I feel horrible for him.  But I respected his attitude, that he had to do this, it was his responsibility to his son, his parents, his brother, his nieces and nephews.  This is the immigrant life.  It is not, as my Texan friend claims, collecting welfare (immigrants can’t, just so you know, though refugees are entitled to some support), procreating, and being drug dealers, prostitutes, and terrorists.

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§ 8 Responses to On Immigration

  • Immigrants CAN collect welfare. There are two ways for it to happen. 1. Legal immigrants can receive the benefits, but their sponsor who has signed an affadavit of support must pay it back, or 2. Become citizens. Additionally, programs like WIC do not verify citizenship, yet they are government welfare programs.

    My husband is also an immigrant (Scotland), and while I certainly do not agree with the way the man you mentioned said it, I do agree that illegal immigrants are an issue, truthfully, and mostly because I am highly pissed about all the fees we paid to do it legally and the hassles that it causes.

    While not all illegals are criminals ICE has discovered so many illegal immigrants in the Criminal Justice system that they will deport from there before anywhere else. There are large numbers of prior criminals who are deported by ICE, and these are just the people who happen to be captured. http://www.ice.gov/removal-statistics/

    Over 368,000 people were deported last year alone and 82% – 301,760 of those people were previously convicted of crimes. THAT is a BIG issue.

    Ok, I am jumping off my soapbox before I really get going!

    • The affidavit means it is effectively impossible to do so. As for citizenship, that’s an entirely different matter. I doubt many immigrants get citizenship to collect welfare.

      What happened yesterday also had nothing to do with illegals, something I did not mention in my post. There are over 35 million legal immigrants in the USA, all of whom have been vetted by US law enforcement officials.

      • Haha, I didn’t say immigrants get citizenship to get welfare, only that they can!

        I disagree that the affadavit makes it all but impossible. There are enough cases on immigration forms where couples have divorced, and the immigrant applies for and receives welfare…and the person who signed the affadavit is ticked because they in turn have to pay it back.

        When you said he stated “ALL immigrants” I gathered he meant legal as well as illegal. However, if I had to assume, I would bet the majority of his dislike is aimed toward the illegal community. I get downright ticked about illegals, not so much for legals because they have been through the PITA process to move here.

        I am VERY aware of the vetting process. Again, my husband is a Scottish immigrant and I am his sponsor.

        There are ignorant people every where, let it go. You should have heard the crap I listened to every time someone found out I was marrying some “weirdo guy I met on the internet”.

  • If you sign the affidavit, you cannot then be upset if you are called upon to repay any social assistance your now ex- may have used.

    I don’t know what he meant, and I don’t really care. The fact of the matter is that the massive overwhelming majority of immigrants to the US are like your husband, like me, or, more likely, my Guinean cab driver, we work hard. There are ignorant people everywhere, but giving them all a free pass just means the idiots multiply.

  • ejensen says:

    Mended, as I see it, the problem is that too many Americans do not (care to? realize to?) separate the terms “legal immigrant” and “illegal immigrant”. Seems to me that that’s the problem Matthew ran into. Talking about “immigrants” implies “all immigrants”, whether or not you actually emphasize “all” or not. As a legal immigrant, I very much appreciate that you make that distinction.

  • Brian Bixby says:

    Although there is a special animus for immigrants, particularly illegal, non-Northern European stock (hence, your exemption, you prideful devil, you), by and large the attitude toward them and the poor in this country is much the same: they’re a drain on our resources, have no patriotism or self-respect, and really don’t belong here unless they shape up, which by definition they never do, because being an immigrant, like being poor, is a class status.

  • […] response to my post on immigration and immigrants, my friends and I got into a discussion on Facebook, comparing the political rhetoric in the US, […]

  • […] I am doing this research, I’m thinking back to my experiences in June, when I was told by a table mate that the AP Reading I was at that I don’t belong in the […]

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