There are many dishonest politicians and right wing groups who try to blame Latinos without papers for everything that is wrong in this country. They call us “illegals” as a way to make us sound like criminals that don’t belong here.
My friends, here’s the truth: Rich people in the United States INVITED us to come here. That’s right! It seemed strange since many of us are Mexicans and our ancestors have lived here for centuries. In fact when you consider our indigenous roots, we have a history that goes back to the beginning of time.
And there’s another important fact that you should know: The United States military seized most of the Southwest from Mexico back in 1848—and they took it ILLEGALLY.
Places like Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas, and, well New México used to be a part of México—a very large part. You know that, right? Did our ancestors one day decide, “Hey, we should just give all this land to the gringos. What are we going to do with it, anyway?”
No, my friends: Half of México was illegally taken by force after an invasion by the US military that ended in 1848.
Ulysses S. Grant, who actually fought in that war, denounced it “as one of the most unjust ever waged,” while condemning it as “a conspiracy to acquire territory out of which slave states might be formed for the American Union.” The greatest US president, Abraham Lincoln, was a member of Congress when the military invaded México. He declared that war “unconstitutional” and bitterly criticized the illegal US military invasion.
See there’s that word being used honestly: “illegal.” It is a word that has much power when used by freedom loving people, though it can also be a weapon to spawn hatred when wielded by demagogues.
But let’s not quarrel about such things. History doesn’t seem to matter to many people: It gets in the way of their opinions.
For the past forty years or so, folks have come to the US to work from all OVER Latin America—México, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.
And most of the workers from those nations were invited, too. Did they get an invitation in the mail? No. But rich people ran Spanish language ads in our countries inviting us to come and work in the US. That’s right! Then when we arrived, the wealthy greeted us with open arms and said, “Welcome! Work hard and you will succeed!”
And we DID work hard—ten, twelve, fourteen hours a day, six or seven days a week, doing backbreaking labor. At the end of the workweek, the rich would ask: “Are there more like you who need work?”
“What do you mean, ‘like you?'” we asked.
“You know—Mexican—or whatever… Tell them to come! There are PLENTY of jobs! And you could even become RICH one day if you work hard enough!”
So others came. And there were jobs—LOTS of them. And we worked very hard, though we were paid less for our labor than people who had papers.
Do you know what happened next? We were blamed for lowering wages! Can you believe that? It’s such a crazy idea. Do you think we said, “Hey, Mr. Bossman, we insist on being paid less than North Americans. After all we are just Mexicans—or, as you say, ‘whatever.'”
The obvious fact is we were paid what rich people wanted to pay us. If we complained to the boss, it always went something like this: “You no-ah like-ah the pay? Okay I call immigration, you go hasta la bye bye.”
Still most of the rich people who hired us LOVED us. As one of my white co-workers would say, “what’s not to love?”
So others came. And there WERE jobs. Lots of them.
Rich people trusted us—they trusted us to come into their beautiful homes to care for their children. And we did! We bathed their infants and comforted them when they were sick; we held their children’s hands and took them to school; we cooked for them, fed them, washed them—heck, let’s face it, we RAISED them. We did everything we were asked to do. And often they said, “Why, you are like a part of our family!”
Except one thing: We were not. We were not even a part of their country, much less their family…
Still they trusted us to plant seeds, to grow and tend crops, to harvest their fruit and vegetables; they trusted us to raise and care for their livestock, to butcher their cattle and pigs and chickens, to package them and ship them to their warehouses and stores. They trusted us to work in their kitchens and restaurants and prepare their meals while they sat back and relaxed, smiling like kings, complimenting our work ethic.
They trusted us to bring food to their table, to wash their dishes, to clean their kitchens and their bathrooms and bedrooms, to do their laundry and polish their silver and china.
And we have done that—and much more. We have done the really hard and difficult jobs—spreading boiling hot tar over roofs we made in the heat of summer, building and paving roadways, digging ditches, tearing down houses thick with asbestos and other stuff that can kill you—without any protection, not even a mask.
We have tended the gardens of the wealthy, built and painted their homes, polished their tile floors and antique furniture, washed and waxed their expensive cars, guarded their property, cared for their parents and grandparents.
Would they hire a criminal to do those things? Of course not! Yet that’s what some of them say. They say we are “criminals.” Why? Again they say we came here “illegally.”
We suffered great hardships to come here, crossing continents and seas, deserts and mountains, hunted down like animals as we tried to cross a border that you can cross anytime you want.
And here’s something important that I hope you will think about: we came to the United States of North America because in OUR countries, when we tried to change things, well, there you were.
Well not you EXACTLY, but your government—the Army, the Marines, the CIA. Though acting on behalf of the US billionaire class, the armed invaders cynically claimed they represented “democracy!”
The simple truth is that since the proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine, every time our nations tried to solve our OWN problems in a manner that did not meet the approval of big North American banks and corporations, U.S. military advisers have been sent, blockades and economic sanctions imposed, economies demolished, coup d’états staged, and troops dispatched. And all of these things were ILLEGAL.
Oh. Sorry. I said no history.
Yet if you think about it, if the US government left our countries alone, most of us never would have had to leave our homes and come here in the FIRST place. And yet to this day the US military industrial complex STILL interferes in our affairs: They STILL use all their dirty tricks to weaken our labor unions and political organizations, to topple our governments and put people in power that THEY control.
The fact is the US government has directly interfered in our countries for almost two hundred years—and not just by trying to sway an election but by actually OVERTHROWING our governments. They sponsored coups in Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, and most recently in Honduras (to name just a few examples); sent in troops and occupied Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Grenada, Cuba, Panama. If you looked at history you might think that the US owned México since they invaded there MANY times. In fact there is not one country in Latin America that has escaped the direct, brutal, ILLEGAL interference of the US billionaire class!
There I go again, talking about history.
Still I am curious about how some people use words. After all what is legal one day is illegal the next. Slavery was legal once. Sometimes I think some people would like to see slavery be “legal” again. As it is the way most undocumented workers are treated in the US is very much like apartheid.
Yet one thing I have learned after working here all these years is that MOST of the working folks in this country are GOOD people. The problem is that some believe what evil people tell them—even if it makes no sense. Sadly many have fallen under the influence of the hateful propaganda constantly pushed by fascist billionaires in the newspapers, radio and television networks that they own—like Fox News, for example.
What do these very rich right-wing people want? They want to become even wealthier! They want to have MORE political power, to gain complete and total control over what everyone does, believes and even THINKS. And to achieve that, right-wing billionaires like the Koch Brothers want to divide the working class—they want us to fight each other for the crumbs.
You see if working people DID unite, if we got organized and together demanded our rights, the rich would at the LEAST have to pay good wages and make sure we ALL received quality medical. If workers joined hands—White, Black, Latino, Asian, ALL of us— we could ALL gain access to good and affordable housing; we could ALL breathe clean air and drink good water, build more schools and parks and clean up toxic dumps. We could stop ALL those endless terrible wars! Heck there’s a million things we could do! But instead the billionaires, especially fascists like the Koch Brothers, they will do what they can to keep us fighting against each other.
That is the reason the billionaires try to blame immigrants without papers for each and every problem, especially the problems that THEY created. Think about it: a billionaire has over a thousand million dollars. Why did Trump—himself a right-wing billionaire—push for a huge tax cut for these extremely wealthy people? Did he do it because they might use that money to create jobs? Where ARE those jobs? Driving a taxi, delivering packages for the richest man in the world, flipping burgers, is that his idea of a good job? And now right wing politicians are saying there’s not enough money for Medicare, for Social Security, to build new roads and clean up toxic dumps. Where did the money go? To tax cuts for the rich!
See how it works?
Yet as long as Trump and other fascists can keep working people blaming each other for the lack of good paying jobs, affordable housing, the soaring cost of medical care, well then the rich need not worry. They can continue to make billions of dollars off of our hard labor so they can live like kings, have fleets of their own personal jet planes, huge estates, even sprinkle gold dust on their caviar. As long as we fight one another, the rich can continue to buy elections, spy on all of us, send working people off to fight endless wars fought for oil, fought so the billionaires can control other nations and their resources, sell more bombers and missiles and guns. Meanwhile, they sell us spam.
There is a way to make things better, my friends. And that is for working people to unite and organize. But first we must overcome all the things that divide us. We must together fight for what is best for all working people, fight the racists and others that promote hatred, and join together as sisters and brothers. If working people join together and organize, we can change things in this country and around the world! It’s not as difficult as it sounds, brothers and sisters. But we must start somewhere, sometime. Why not today?