Do the Undocumented Make American-born Latinos Look Bad?
Conflict, provocation and response: Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez and Richard Y??iguez on patriotism, risk and destiny
Casandra Moreno Lombera, Latin Heat Online / Latinowood
Originally published at Latin Heat Online / Latinowood
Published on LatinoLA: September 10, 2012
Latin Heat Online / Latinowood Editor: We recently read an article in Herald de Paris by LatinoLA Contributing Editor Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez which we found provocative and extraordinary. Latin Heat does not normally dive into the politics of trending social issues (although LatinoLA.com does), but this one is worth sharing especially since film and TV shape and enforce the stereotypes. The intro is contributed by Emmy-nominated producer/writer, Casandra Moreno Lombera.
The article, "Illegals Make American-Born Latinos Look Bad," with reader response, was originally published in September of 2011. I found three loaded cannons, areas of overarching assumptions, within the text of both writings. I poured them into three defining categories: Perceptions of Patriotism, Willingness to Risk Everything, and Destined to Do Anything.
The media (mainstream and Spanish) as well as Hollywood have had no effective, consistently constructive impact on the American comprehension of this roughly half a century old predicament. Readers may find themselves conflicted or provoked as they venture through these perceptions that disrupt a healthy coexistence between the haves and have-nots.
1. PERCEPTIONS OF PATRIOTISM ‘«Ű The undocumented find themselves navigating a minefield of expectations (in varying decibels) to the tune of: Love your native country but, while you're here, love America more. Working in America means working for America only. We expect you to fight for America and show that you appreciate the U.S. better than American citizens by the way you work, speak, and live -- or go home. The rub is that if they actually succeeded at meeting those demands, both Mexican and mainstream Americans who do not rise to the occasion themselves may develop a retaliatory attitude toward immigrants for "making them look bad."
2. WILLINGNESS TO RISK EVERYTHING ‘«Ű The culpable plight of illegal immigrants frequently incites obvious and socially scorned consequences. We have no quantifiable data that reveals any public sympathy levels toward their unappreciated behavior and risks such as: breaking immigration laws to be here; risking their lives to get here; being separated from spouses and children and sacrificing a natural family life for survival; letting someone else raise their children; facing all levels of abuse without legal rights or recourse; and positioning themselves to face deportation and be treated like criminals, at any given moment, for simply being identified.
3. DESTINED TO DO ANYTHING - Do the dirtiest, most challenging, sub-wage work for which Americans do not apply for, covet, or compete. Contribute to America's economy expecting nothing in return, e.g., income tax refunds, social security benefits, disability benefits, etc. Participate in a co-dependently dysfunctional system that exploits them and does not have their best interests at heart nor cares about their future and family. In the last 40 years, employment/economic issues sprouted some ruthless tentacles.
A percentage of unemployed Americans complained about missing out on under minimum wage jobs that they did not pursue and declined to fill. The illegal immigrant has been labeled as "the problem" by this unemployed segment and and lobbied against by certain lawmakers as opposed to being regarded as "the solution" -- contrary to the thousands of American corporations, farmers, and individual employers who would have tailspun without them.
In March 2005, Wal-Mart, a company with $285 billion in annual sales was fined $11 million for having untold hundreds of illegal immigrants nationwide clean its stores. ‘«Ű Deborah White, About.com. The undocumented worker became America's best known, most wanted, sneered at, and most controversial dirty little secret ‘«™with U.S. employers feasting on this illicit fare. Consumers didn't even think about them at the checkout stand when they were enjoying lower food and merchandise prices.
On a separate economical plain, there has been rumblings of "employment envy" concerning the burgeoning success of the monolingual Spanish language entertainment industry which largely caters to Latino immigrant viewers. English speaking Latinos have felt completely suppressed by America's mainstream entertainment industry (completely valid) but some are misdirecting their bitterness toward illegal immigrants.
That said (and still volumes left unsaid about this incendiary topic), the following article written by Latino media pioneer, Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez, and response by producer, actor Richard Y??iguez may further enlighten, edify, or upset you:
Illegals Make American-Born Latinos Look Bad
By Al Carlos Hernandez on September 18, 2011, reprinted with permission, Herald de Paris
Hate to say this, but something Kat Williams said a few weeks ago rings true for me: if you are not loyal to this country and your allegiance is to somewhere else, then get out and stay out‘«™
It is clear, even from an Ivy-League-limousine-liberal point-of-view, that people from around the world come to our country because the "motherland" has failed them in some way. Most focus today is on Mexican immigration. The reason there is such a glaring problem in Mexican immigration is because Mexico is within walking distance and there is no reasonable policy to address that issue. However, recent statistics prove that there has been less illegal immigration over the last few years ‘«Ű and the border patrol has little to do with it. Mexico's economy is getting better. Still, it is rare to hear an undocumented person talk about how badly America sucks. Maybe if bleeding heart enablers understood colloquial Spanish rather than Rosetta Stone, they would know that folks who come here want to work and participate in the "American Dream."
Freedom for this country has been won, and is currently maintained, on the backs of ethnic minority men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice out of love for a country that misunderstands them. Some of the proudest people I have ever seen were those who were participating in a San Franciscan citizen swearing in ceremony. Wonderful people, from almost every country in the world, willfully pledged allegiance to our flag. How many of our citizens are willing to do the same, given today's attitude of entitlement? Okay. So I sound like a knee-jerk Republican (emphasis on "jerk").
However, I am equally proud to say that I have been given the title of Minister of Information Emeritus by Brown Beret Prime Minister Dr. David Sanchez ‘«Ű an honorary title that I wear with pride. This is what I experienced: during the late 60's and early 70's, courageous young Latinos (when Hispanics were not yet invented) gave it all to help stop the Vietnam war and to make sure that colleges and universities afforded Latinos equal opportunities for education. Because of this overt and unabashed political action by the Brown Berets and the Young Lords Party, Latinos have made many important strides over the last 30 years. Hey, there is a Latina on the Supreme Court!
Illegals, on one hand, make American-born Latinos look bad. On the other hand, everyone thinks that every Latino speaks Spanish and watches Univision. Spanish speaking foreign nationals have stolen access to the airwaves from those of us born here. And those of us born here, many of whom are talented artists who fought the hard battles to get those rights, are cut out of the action. Watch any Latino award show. No homegrown representation . . . ever. Instead, artists like Willie Colon, Little Joe, the bands Tierra and Malo have been systematically excluded by monolingual Spanish speaking nationals. Master TV directors Dennis Leoni and Jesus Trevino, both of whom cannot get a network show, are leaving tens of millions with their stories untold while whack job telenovelas get top national ratings.
If you respect the country, then you have to respect the law. This is not to say that there is not selective enforcement. There is. Those who come to our country illegally know that they are breaking the law, but are willing to take the risk to feed their families. To grant blanket asylum for those who do not respect our laws sets a bad precedent. Seems to me that the simple solution is to keep the people who are willing to become loyal citizens. Send back people who have no respect for this country; a country that we love and have died to maintain. I wish there was a place we could send welfare recipients, convicts, senators, and congressmen who refuse to work. They should be drug tested every week. My Bible says, "If a man doesn't work, neither should he eat‘«™" Every welfare recipient, irrespective of race, should be required to pass the citizenship test. I am most certainly qualified to comment on this issue. As a child, my family grew up on welfare when the system worked for those who couldn't. And also for those that wouldn't.
I am so tired of hearing about how great other countries are. I've gotta say, they are not as great as this country I live in. People wishing to be somewhere else live in a world that doesn't exist. Other countries fail. That is the reason these people are here. People need to channel that love of "country of origin" to this country ‘«Ű a country that is giving them a quality of life they could never have back "home." We need to engender a new patriotism. America is like a baseball team with players from all over the place who have one goal: to win and to keep on winning. How are you going to play for a team wearing some other team's jersey? United we stand. Divided we fall.
It is time for America to stop apologizing. We need to stand up and take back the dignity that we deserve as the greatest country on Earth. Acknowledge the fact that "we" are all the races which make up the American landscape: the bilingual, bicultural, bisexual, bi-ignorant‘«™
America needs to get back to work. Kids need to study hard and get a good education. The days of entitlement are over. Only those who are willing to put in the time to do the work should be eligible to reap the fruits of the harvest. And when sojourners fondly remember the country they came from and sing its songs while eating its popular foods, I hope they never forget the reason they came here and why what they have now is so much better. Thank God for it.
On the real, if you really don't like it here, there are buses that leave every hour. It would be so easy to do a fundraiser for one way tickets. I would be willing to chair such a committee.
‘«ŰDr. Al Carlos Hernandez
Published response from Richard Y??iguez:
I appreciate a lot of what you have laid down in your article [and] yes there are those who come here to take and not care about the country! As you pointed out, they do it out of necessity. They break the law to survive and statistically they are least to take advantage of welfare or emergency services offered to all. They make their money send it home and, when the time comes, go back. I admire their tenacity, persistence, and love of family, of country! If anything they make the American worker (Latino, Anglo, Black, etc..) look bad because they do what others won't‘«™.work at anything!
What we need is a good work program to offer those who are willing to come here and do the jobs our welfare recipients refuse to do! This country would fall to it's knees without their support in the fields, in the streets, the deserts, etc‘«™ To endure what they did to get here is heartbreaking and they survived to work another day! They don't make me look bad! It's all those who do nothing to make this country work, and play politics, and think we're too stupid to see through them and some of us are!
I agree that the Spanish language networks have blurred our contributions to this great nation and media reflects that notion by the lack of Latinos in the mainstream and the lack of stories that prove we are a part of the fabric of this nation. If an alien from another world landed here he would see that dinosaurs must be prominent citizens because they get more air time than Native Americans and Latinos! When it's all said and done we need to support each other because we are family, regardless of where we come from, and help solve the problem!
Hatred toward Latinos is growing in this country. Hate crimes toward us and the illegal should not be tolerated. Crimes against anyone should not be tolerated. I suggest we focus on the positive and put the negative aside and help find a solution‘«™a good start would be a worker program to benefit all in a legal manner. Your article is an open door for discussion and I hope others take advantage and chime in because you touched on so many issues of the day affecting our community! Thank you again Dr. Al and Herald de Paris for focusing on us.
Y??iguez recently added: "I appreciate President Obama's courage in implementing his program for children brought here as illegals without their consent. This will energize our economy and give these young people a chance to a better life‘«™to coin a phrase from a recent movie title!"
In conclusion, the biggest question we have to ask ourselves about high voltage issues like this one is "how well do we educate ourselves on these topics before drawing conclusions?" How much do we allow biased media, movies, and other sources to shape our opinions? This post did not even begin to cover the intricacies of how the U.S./undocumented worker relationship began, evolved, and has affected us as a society and economy in the last five decades.
What are your views about undocumented workers and how much research has led you to your opinions? Whatever your background or ethnicity, we would love to hear from you!
To read the complete editorial, link to: http://latinowood.blogspot.com.
‘«ŰCasandra Moreno Lombera
All Rights Reserved, ?ģ 2012, Latin Heat Entertainment
Edited by: Casandra Moreno Lombera and Elia Esparza