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Latino Leaders and Congress Ashamed to Admit Laying of Big Immigration Egg

Dec 30, 2007
When I was a teenager I went to Mexico and ended up marrying my wife in the state of Veracruz. I adopted Mexico and it adopted me. Over the years we have lived there off and on and know many people well.

Down the street from us lived Marcelo. His wife and two kids still live there. Marcelo was a carpenter but in our little Veracruz town there was never steady work. With two young babies and a wife to feed, Marcelo felt he had to go to Texas to find work.

Marcelo crossed into the Rio Bravo or the Rio Grande as we know it, just west of Brownsville. He never came out. He drowned. Each year we see pictures of the turbulent, swirling waters and the bodies that are pulled out. Marcelo's was one of those bodies.

From the border town of Sonoyta, Sonora, Mexico going west along the border between Arizona and Sonora, is the Pinacate Great Desert Natural Park. What is surprising to the road traveler is it appears as if one were in a southwestern cactus garden in Phoenix. A veritable Garden of Eden.

That is, if one is driving through. I last drove through it in February and it was cold. But in July and August and September this area has some of the hottest temperatures in the hemisphere. It is along this stretch of road to San Luis Rio Colorado and Yuma, Arizona that thousands of Mexicans and Central Americans cross the desert trying to get to the Promised Land.

But the desert is unrelenting, especially in the summer. Each year hundreds die of dehydration. Thousands and thousands are caught and returned to Mexico. Most try again. Sometimes they work to get enough for bus fare and return back home broke.

The Salinas Valley in California is known as the vegetable basket of the U.S. The figures are impressive as the area produces the most lettuce, broccoli, and artichokes in the world. Although much of the labor required to farm scientifically is mechanized, much of it is not. The farmers rely on immigrants to do this manual labor and especially pick the crops.

The problem is the farmer can get no American to do the job. Even the children of most farmworkers will not do the job...they didn't come to America so their kids could pick grapes and lettuce. Each year the scarcity of workers gets worse. Each year farmers have to plow under more acreage since they have no labor to harvest it.

Michael owns a restaurant in Gilroy, California. He serves mostly American fare and has lunch, breakfast and dinner every day. It's not gourmet, but the food is hot and served with a smile. The waitresses are all Anglo and what we used to call in the Deep South 'honeys'; a sweet term of endearment. They know everyone by their first name.

Michael has no trouble finding a new waitress because the tips are good and the turnover low. What Michael can't find is an American to cook, wash dishes or bus tables. Like many, many other restaurants Michael hires illegals because he has no other choice. If he can't find someone to cook and clean he has no business. Period.

This isn't rocket science. Michael can't run his restaurant unless he has Mexican workers. The Salinas Valley will stop being the world's greatest vegetable producer if farmers can't find farm labor. Good people like our neighbor Marcelo will continue to drown in the Rio Grande or die of thirst in the Arizonan desert. Why?

Because in all our wisdom and advanced thinking and fancy systems of government we can't find a way to connect the worker to the job. In the process we hurt our economy, our farmers, our entrepreneurs, our families, communities, state, nation and world. And ourselves.

Marcelo wasn't a criminal. He had a family to feed. Some farmer or restaurant in Texas needed Marcelo to work for them. But Marcelo had to drown in the river and leave a wife and two kids behind because we simply didn't have the guts to hand him a permit allowing him to go legally pick vegetables or bus tables and not have to swim that river.

Shame, shame, shame. By fighting over the merits of amnesty and paths to citizenship our leaders have dropped the ball and left the most important and easiest piece off the table: get these people work permits!

Negotiations? We don't need no stinking negotiations. As long as it isn't "our people" drowning in that swirling river and dying in that beautiful desert?

For shame, for shame, for shame...
About the Author
Jack D. Deal is a resident of Quintana Roo, Mexico and California, USA. He is the owner of Deal Business Consulting. Related articles may be found at http://www.jddeal.com and http://www.freeandinquiringmind.typepad.com
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