In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, waves of Italian and Irish immigrants came to the New World, chasing the American dream of freedom and prosperity. But instead of streets paved with gold, they found only hatred and prejudice. Forced to work in our factories, fight in our wars, and speak our language, their rich customs and traditions were absorbed into American culture. In time, they learned to accept their enslavement and became citizens of the very same system that oppressed them. One of my students, a third generation Irish-American, actually speaks fluent English.
Latino immigrants, however, have El Fuego in their blood! They won’t meekly succumb to assimilation like the Europeans did, and have managed thus far to preserve their language and culture. Often, I will see their beautifully decorated lowriders cruising through Tacoma’s hilltop neighborhood, perhaps on their way to purchase bargain Wal-Mart electronics just as their ancient Aztecan ancestors once did. Their deep connection to their Latin heritage is also evident in the impromptu 2am Mariachi contests held in the hallway outside my door, and the bottomless pile of old mattresses and empty cans of menudo by the dumpster are a testament to their deep sense of family and tradition.
Now, the Shrub wants to take that all away from them. By forcing them to become citizens, get social security numbers, pay taxes and “live on the books”, so to speak, Bush will not only destroy what makes undocumented workers so special and unique, but make them susceptible to attacks from evil time-traveling cyborgs as well. Has Bush’s bigotry completely blinded him to the fact that we need these people to pick our fruit and clean our toilets?
Hopefully, their righteous anger over being forced to become American citizens will give undocumented workers the incentive to vote Democrat in November. If not, I fear what they may become.