Immigration is a multi-faceted issue; How are we going to deal with it?

By Scott Anthony

We stopped at Taco Bell for lunch yesterday and while in line, we saw the girl behind the counter chatting with a customer about a coin she received in payment from a previous customer.

When I got up to give my food order, I asked her what it was, a Russian coin?

‘It’s a centavo, I think’ she said. While we ate, I told my friend that a centavo is worth about 1/10 of a U.S. penny, and we considered the event together. Not uncommon to get a foreign coin in your change, as we have been getting Canadian coins in our pockets for many years, and they used to considered it legal coinage in this country, though now some businesses will not accept them if they’re found. I asked the girl about whether the coin was Russian because I had learned recently about the influx of Russian currency into this area as well. Mostly, it’s counterfeit $20s and $100s, according to a guy I spoke with at the auto parts store.

This is why they use those marking pens to discern whether a bill is legal or not. The sophistication of fake U.S. currency has gotten very good recently and holding one up to the light is no longer a dependable way to ferret them out.

But the upshot of this, to me, is the influx of immigrants as opposed to the money they might bring. Later in the day, I helped my friend install a door on a mobile home. The residents are workers on a local farm. They show up as we are about half way done. Two males, about 25 or 30, two females of similar age, and at least three children under 6 or 7. I learn that these people, who are hispanic and speak no english at all, are ‘family’ of the other group of mexicans who live in another trailer on the same property.

My friend tells me that their boss does not like the men in this family, since they don’t follow orders well due to the language barrier. As I work the screws into the door latches and clean up the mess, I notice the little kids scuffling around near us. They’re cute, and they’re dressed neatly in new clothes. The men in the family try to communicate with my friend, offering beer and water (‘agua? muy caliente, amigo’ ) but this is about all I can understand, and my spanish is better than my friend’s.

The family is friendly enough, the house is neatly kept too, compared to some homes we have worked in, and I consider the ramifications of so many people coming here from other countries and how it impacts those of us who live and work here. I happen to know from a previous inquiry that the bulk of these individuals are not here legally, as my friend is dating one of the ladies who is part of this extended family of perhaps twelve or so people.

His girlfriend speaks about as much English as he speaks Spanish and they jibber jabber back and forth on the phone until he gives up in exasperation and just hangs up on her. Still, they seem to get along, mostly since my friend is such a generous, good natured person, and when I ask him about the legal aspect of her presence here, he just shrugs it off. He is not the type of person to think much about the larger aspects of immigration issues, and would never persecute anyone for simply coming to our cities and towns to make their lives better, and mostly, he just likes having a girlfriend.

In the early days of the formation of this country, the immigration process was quite different, as people from all points of the globe came from very difficult conditions to follow the path to citizenship, mostly through Ellis Island, though I’m sure there was a problem then with illegal immigration as well. The difference is perhaps more in the concept of what America stood for then, as opposed to the current view that seems to be prevalent.

In the twenties and thirties, during the peak of immigration through the east coast of the United States, it would have been unthinkable for groups of immigrants to protest governmental edicts or laws, even if it might have been a just reason, and for Hispanics in particular, the idea of burning U.S. flags and marching in the streets declaiming a policy that has been the rule of law for many years is even more dismaying.

Those early refugees, who came from deplorable lives and uncertain futures, while still scrambling to survive, did so with the glint of hope in their eyes as new Americans. This attitude is key I believe, and as opposed to the problems we have now, where whole villages of people come into our cities and make no attempts to assimilate or even learn the language but simply recreate their previous lives on American soil and seem to have little interest in reasons that the United States of America gives them such freedoms and opportunity. This is not the worst of it, however. The criminal aspect is troubling, and we see evidence of it bubbling below the surface of our everyday lives, in our neighborhoods and streets. In my own neighborhood, we have three or four Russian/Ukrainian families. They drive fast and have sullen expressions, attending the huge Ukrainian churches in late model BMWs, SUVs and souped up Honda cars. Two of the families have big tow trucks with generic markings on the doors. ‘Fast Tow’ and ‘Yuri’s Towing’.

It is understood by the neighbors and by the cops that ‘chop shops’ run by these recent immigrants are in operation in nearby homes, their backyards all fully fenced and with temporary shelters erected to hide the torch work and disassembly of the models that are most desired and easiest to steal.

The Hispanic communities are less inclined to behave as brazenly, and from their multi-family houses they supply the labor force for every landscaping company within every area code in the phone book. The upshot of this influx of cheap workers, is that they displace jobs for the people who were here before them, working much cheaper than minimum wage and also working for cash, thus paying no state wage tax. The other issue, particular to the Hispanic immigrants is the use of social services and medical treatment. It would be wrong to not treat someone who came to an emergency room with a serious injury, but the new trend for illegal immigrants is what is being called ‘birth tourism’, where Hispanic women will time their pregnancies so as to come to term the very week that they can covertly cross our border, to give birth in a U.S. hospital, and thereby qualify as a ‘legal guardian’ for their new American baby.

The US Department of Health and Human Services is now on the verge of approving JBLM (Joint Base Lewis/McChord) to house 600 unaccompanied Central American children. Lakewood, Wa. Mayor Don Anderson is wrangling with the DHHS about the impact of these children on the local community there, raising concerns about communicable diseases.

Anderson is not objecting to them being housed and humanely treated, but “We are concerned about what happens next; what burdens are going to be pushed on state and local government; and how are we going to deal with that.”

With ever increasing drug wars and unchecked population increases south of the United States border, this is a situation that is unlikely to abate. What would you do to help in this area of immigration concern? 

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