Tuesday, January 10, 2006

a good column on immigrants

read more on the 'connecticut citizens for immigration control' (hatemongers i call them) at hat city blog (a good little blog if i do say so!) and ConnecticutBlog (another good little blog!)

Accusing Immigrants Misses The Point
Helen UbiƱas
January 10 2006
Day One of the Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Control's call to crack down on employers hiring undocumented day laborers, and all is quiet at Danbury's Kennedy Park.Pito arrives first, bundled against the predawn cold in a thrift-store parka.A few minutes later Juan walks up with a smile that defies the cold and the unkind hour.They knew even then, just past 5:30 Monday morning, that the prospects for a day laborer weren't good. Not because of the protest that took place in the park Saturday, but because there's never much work when the weather's cold - unless, of course, it's snowing and people need workers to shovel.But they came anyway, hoping that talk of police arresting day laborers and employers was just a rumor. By daybreak, dozens of men were competing for one job, rushing a prospective employer's car as if it were the last lifeboat on a sinking ship.Work is the reason they are all here. It's why Juan and Pito made the long and dangerous trek from Ecuador, Juan a year ago and Pito just two months ago. "We walked, we ran, we prayed," Juan said. And so, better to be out looking for work, elusive as it often is, then home watching TV. At least out here there's an occasional free cup of coffee from the pastor of a nearby church, and today an impromptu English lesson from a visitor.How do you say un poco? Juan asks.A little, I tell him."I speak a little English."And how do you say sombra?Shade, I tell him. "Please put my lunch in the shade," he says. Please, right? he asks, I don't want to sound like I'm the one giving orders.Please is always good, I tell him. Usually the men come to the park during the week, but Juan came out Saturday to watch the protest arranged by CCIC's Paul Streitz. The so-called "Stop the Invasion" protests were organized in 19 states, but attendance by opponents of illegal immigration was sparse. About 50 showed up in Danbury. It wasn't the first time he'd heard the anti-immigrant rants. But he got a kick out of the folks who came out in support of the immigrants; must be nice to be able to speak out without fear, he said. And he had to laugh at the talk of immigrants taking jobs from Americans. Never once has he competed against an Americano for a job. Would they really want this one, he asks? About the only thing that got to him was the criticism of immigrants' sharing apartments. It's not just to save on the rent, he says, although most immigrants arrive still in debt to the coyotes who smuggle them in. Most times it's just about helping someone out. What kind of people would we be if we turned away a newcomer? Juan asks. .......

what kind indeed, juan?

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