To many people, new developments with bright, shiny buildings means progress. But to others, it means oppression, extortion, and violence. Do the ends really justify these means?
When some anonymous congressmen sent around a draft letter addressed to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) to see if they could get some co-signers to protest the immigration reform bill, a high school teacher decided to make it a teachable moment. Said teacher, now-Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), unleashed his markup pen on the letter to grade the accuracy of the work. This write-up avoids most of the partisanship we see these days and goes straight for the fact-checking.
If you think facts should matter, you could totally share this. Your call though.
Watching the news today, it’s easy to forget that many of our journeys as Americans have a lot in common: a sense of hope and vision and love for our families and our country. Whenever I can be reminded of that, I’m grateful.
Some of these surprised the heck out of me. You?
FACT CHECK TIME:
Myth 2: “Undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes.” In 2010, they paid $10.6 billion in state and local taxes.
Myth 4: “DREAMers affect the U.S. economy negatively.” More like they’d add $329 billion and 1.4 million jobs to the economy by 2030. (FYI, here’s who DREAMers are.)
Myth 5: “Most immigrants are undocumented.” In fact, two-thirds are documented.
Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from The Washington Post, carried a heavy secret: He lived in the U.S. undocumented for most of his life. His grandparents brought him to this country legally at age 5, but he never got proper legal status. As of July 15, 2014, Jose had been arrested and was being detained by the Texas Border Patrol.
Jose came out in the national news, and then he decided to make a documentary about his journey and his fight to get rational immigration reform on the books in the United States.
That’s when he met a self-proclaimed “hardcore Republican” farmer named Lawrence. Lawrence has a very different perspective from much of his party when it comes to immigration. Jose received a handwritten letter in the mail recently. It was from Lawrence, postmarked March 27, 2014, from Birmingham, Ala. It reads:
I realize that you have your story, and I have had some part in it. This, however, is something that I haven’t had the opportunity to tell you. You might say that this is part of my side of the story.
I could put more feeling in this orally. Perhaps on occasion will arise when I can do so. I used part of what I’m going to tell you, when I recently met with my U.S. Representative.
Please excuse my handwriting, punctuation, and spelling. This is the best that an old red-neck farm boy from Cullman County, Alabama can do.
If any of this is of any value to you, feel free to use it.
What follows is that part:
When I start to leave Paco’s and Madai’s (Paco’s wife) house after visiting them, or they start to leave my house after visiting me; their children are saying, “bye bye papa, bye bye papa.” Finally one day, I asked Paco: “Paco, what are your children saying, what do they mean they tell me bye bye papa.”
He said they are saying “bye bye abuelo,” or to translate, “bye bye grandfather.” This made me feel ever so great. My heart was filled with joy knowing that they thought of me in this way.
Paco told me a video his dad sent up from Guatamala, recently. The video was about his dad’s 73rd birthday and the celebration that they had for him. In the video he told me hello, of course, but that’s not really what I want to get at.
Paco told me that as their four children watched the video; they asked him: “Who is this man?” He said the told them:” That’s your abuelo, your grandfather.” He said they then asked him, “Como Papa?” To translate: “Like Papa?”
“Like Papa,” this too made me proud that they would make such a comparison. Joy filled my heart once more.
And then, suddenly, my joy turned to sadness, and my eyes filled with tears.
I had realized that Paco’s children don’t know their own grandfather. All they’ve got is a poor substitute.
They don’t know the joy that they can bring to a grandfather and the joy he can bring to them. They don’t know the pleasure that’s shared by sitting on that grandfather’s knee and talking to him.
I ask: Why can’t Paco take their children to Guatamala to visit an aging grandfather; and then return
here to his home in the U.S.? Why can’t Madai take their children to Guatamala to visit an aging grandmother; and then returnhere to her home in the U.S.? Why can’t you, Jose, return to the Philippines to visit an aging mother; and return here to your home in the U.S.?
The hour grows late. The hour grows late for Paco’s dad, for Madai’s mom, for your mom, and yes even for me. Enough of the delay, it’s time for results.
The cause we share it not a
right or left cause. It’s a right orwrong cause. It’s a cause in which you and I agree.
I have to end with a question. My Latino friends, my Latino family: How could I not be for them in the struggle?
However, there’s one thing further that I will say. You and I may be poles apart politically. We may be poles apart on life style. We may be poles apart on religion. We may be poles apart on other facets of life.
Always remember, though, that we’re together on something far more important than the differences we have. We’re united in friendship.
I’ve taken enough of your time. Thanks for letting me share a part of my side of the story.
May God be with you.
If Lawrence can be this reasonable, surely more people can. They should hear his story.
Detaining immigrants in squalid conditions, without due process, has become a very profitable businesses in America. No wonder, as this map shows, the number of facilities and detainees in America has exploded in the last 20 years.
1981: Here’s what it looks like before we start paying private companies per bed to jail immigrants.
1995: Fourteen years into the privatization experiment, and now there’s 137 times more prisoners in the jails.
2011: Privatization has transformed America’s landscape and entangled a record number of immigrants in the detention dragnet.
Mee Moua from the Asian American Justice Center attended a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing focusing on immigration reform. When senator Jeff Sessions began asking some overtly anti-immigration questions, Mee Moua wasted no time in knocking them out of the park. The senator’s ridiculous hypothetical question at 1:20 sets him up for a huge fall, and Moua’s answer at 1:56 does not disappoint.
All of the fluff that gets passed off as news about “those people” taking our jobs melts away like so much ice cream when you start to pass around stuff like this. Yummy!
I suppose if you’re seeing this, you probably fall in the minority for Internet access. I was most surprised by poverty, shelter, and cellphones.
Correction: The chart’s proportions for North and South America are incorrect. North America (including Central America and the Caribbean) is more populous than South America. That ratio should be around 8 to 6.
Economist Ben Powell makes short work of the three standby anti-immigration arguments, leaving me with a ringing in my ears that sounds distinctly like the immortal “They took our jobs” chant from “South Park.” They didn’t though. They really, really didn’t.
Relevant: If you haven’t seen the “South Park” episode about immigrants, go watch it. Here’s a clip: