What an immigrant (sin papeles) could say to a rich man

You invited us here.

It was strange since many of us are Mexicans and we have been here for hundreds of years.

But let’s not quarrel about history just now. Anyway history doesn’t seem to matter to most people. It gets in the way of their opinions.

Yet I must tell you that many of us have ancestors that go back nearly to the beginning—the first human migration to this continent, long before there were any borders or states or territories.

Let’s not quarrel about anthropology, either

In the modern era, we came to the U.S. from other parts of America: Not just México, but Central America, South America, the Caribbean. We came to the United States of North America because in our countries, when we tried to change things, well, there you were…

Yes, in our own countries, every time we tried to change things—to make things fairer so we can feed our families and live in peace—there you were. Well not you exactly. But your government: the Army, the Marines, the CIA, etc.

Since the proclamation of the “Monroe Doctrine,” every time our people tried to solve our own problems in a manner that did not meet the approval of the big US banks and corporations, U.S. military advisers have been sent, blockades have been imposed, coup d’etats have been launched, and troops have been deployed.

Oh. Sorry. I said no history.

Still, if you think about it, if the rich people of the United States had left us alone, we probably never would have needed to leave our homes and come here in the first place.

But the rich always interfere. They must have everything their way.

So what choice do we have?

What would YOU do if you could not feed your family or live in peace? What would you do if the government stole your land, cheated you out of your pay, put your leaders in jail and executed them?

So we were forced to cross a border—a border that, if you want to know the truth, was created after land was stolen from Mexico. (Oh, sorry, I did it again—no history!)

We left our homes, our families, our friends—we left everything behind and suffered through great hardship to come here. We put ourselves at great risk to cross a border you can cross whenever you want. We came looking for work.

We did this after your government interfered politically, economically and militarily in our countries and made it impossible to live there.

Did we come here to steal your natural resources? Did we come here to take your land? Did we cross the border with troops and canons and airplanes, marching into your capitals and seizing control? No. We came here empty handed. We came here to work.

And you know what? We were encouraged to come. That’s right! The wealthy among you greeted us with open arms and said, “Welcome! Work hard and you will prosper!”

So we did work hard. But you know what? It seems like even here most working people never seem to prosper. I’m not exactly sure why, but it sure feels like someone is picking my pocket.

We have a saying in Spanish: mucho trabajo pero no mucho dinero—a lot of work but not much pay.

Well at least here we can feed our children, clothe them, and, for the most part, provide them a fairly decent place to live—most of the time.

Yet there are those who run entire families out of town. They run us out of town and they usually appear just before payday.

Then there are those who are like demons.

Let me show you… can you see it? Close your eyes for a second so you can see. There he is!

(A gun-toting sheriff appears, confronting a young immigrant couple, man and wife, who shield their two small children… The sheriff’s face is red and purple, skin stretched and thin as parchment. And behind him is his posse, a group of angry men armed to the teeth. In their eyes there’s a raging fire and a dead man hanging from a lynch mob’s rope…)

Did you see that? They do that to entire neighborhoods. They arrest you, separate men from women, put you in a jail. And there you sit, sometimes for weeks, for months. Then they deport you.

They say I am a criminal for coming to their country “illegally.” Yes they say I cannot live here, not even in places like Colorado and New Mexico. That seems very strange to me. Those names, they are Spanish, you know. Why do you think that is so? And why do some people think I’m an alien in such places but believe they belong there?


(to be continued…)