Aren’t We All Immigrants, Really?

My father is a genealogist. He spent about 25 years researching our family history and eventually published a book on it. I am quite lucky to have this and to be able know everything about my family roots going back generations and centuries to the Tudor era of the 1400’s. I am a mutt of European descent. Mostly English with some Scottish, Welsh, German, French… The list goes on. I have ancestors who came to America on the Mayflower. I am of immigrant descent. My family is not of Native American descent. And chances are yours isn’t either. Chances are you are born of immigrant ancestors also.

Immigration reform is real hot button political issues right now. And let’s be honest about it, we’re talking about immigrants from central America, really Mexico. I don’t think there is a lot of concern about immigrants from Canada, Asia or Europe. So, my question is, why is this such a sticky issue? I think there is a really basic, simple solution to this. A fairly easy way to resolve folks being here illegally. And no, it isn’t ‘self deportation’.

I live in Texas. There are many industries here that I see dominated by Mexican workers.  In college I worked in the restaurant industry, mostly as a bartender. Most of the folks in the back of the house, line cooks, prep cooks, dish dogs… were Mexican. And they worked hard, they took pride in doing their work well. I remember a handful of non-Mexican guys, white, black, whatever. But they never lasted. Maybe it was the low pay. Maybe it was the long hours. Maybe it was the nature of the work.

There are lots and lots of jobs in the US that immigrants fill. Whether it is in construction, restaurants, farming or cleaning. Take the recent law in Alabama that outlawed immigrant workers. The farmers couldn’t fill the jobs with anyone else. Non-immigrants would not do the work for the pay. My assumption is that these employers were paying at least the federal minimum wage. I personally think it is sad that we have to have a federally mandated minimum wage, it says to me that employers all think “I’d love to pay you a lot less, but the law won’t allow it.”  I am not going to get into a debate on the minimum wage here. That is another topic for another day.

It is a fact that there are lots of jobs in the US that are filled with immigrant workers. Let’s be honest about that. White kids aren’t going to fill these jobs. So my opinion is that we make it easier for immigrants to come do the work. Yes, I said easier, not harder. Why don’t we have a guest worker program? These workers are going to come here, we need them to come here. If a guest worker program was easy to apply for, was processed quickly, cost little to money to get into, kept track of these workers and allowed them to pay income taxes and social security, I think it would benefit everyone. Say there was a guest worker program. Then the authorities could focus on the businesses that hire illegals as opposed to the individuals, any business using illegals could be fined. Any worker in the program that broke the law would be removed. And if the folks working under the program worked here for a certain period of time, say 5 years, then they could have a path to true citizenship, providing that they did not get into any trouble with the law during that time. What is so wrong with that? We are a nation founded by immigrants. That history is part of what makes the US such a strong nation.






  1. An IMMIGRANT, AN IMMIGRANT! Aren’t we ALL immigrants in one way or another.

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