Juan and Jose a Fairy Tale

Section 8 a crime against the working poor

By Alberto Marrero Salas
Published on LatinoLA: October 22, 2007

Juan and Jose a Fairy Tale

A long time ago in a place far away known as California Juan and Jose arrived from their native lands.

Juan immediately started to work. He took whatever job was available as long as it was honest. He worked in the fields in construction and as a bus boy in high end restaurants.
In time he saved enough to pay the "coyotes" to bring his wife and his child to California. He settled down and had a second child this one born in the USA.

Juan and his wife Marta worried about their kids studies. The boys did well in school. Juan and his wife would attend PTA meetings, back to school night and made it a point to meet their boys teachers. This in spite of the fact that they were dead tired after having worked all day. Even though they really couldn't help much due to lack of a formal education and their poor English Juan and Marta always checked to make sure that the kids did their homework.

With hard work a lot of sweat and sacrifice Juan and Marta saved enough money to buy a lunch truck. In the summer temperatures would reach over 120 degrees inside the lunch truck in the San Fernando Valley. They worked and worked and worked.

They feard for their boys as their neighborhood was infested by gangs, drugs and firearms. Finally after a few years they were able to save enough to buy a modest home in Lancaster California. Their home was not a palace but the neighborhood was good. No gang bangers, no drug, no guns.

Jose on the other hand always thought that work was for chumps. Jose would work for a few months, claim that he was injured and file a workman's comp suit. He also hustled a little bit of weed, a little bit of coke and a little bit of crack. He forgot his wife and child back home.

In due time he shacked up with Maria. He got her pregnant. Her third child by as many fathers. She then filed for welfare. She got cash, food stamps, medical and all of the goodies that go along with it. (Don't the rich taxpayers owe us a living?) Jose would leave the home for the day when the Social workers was scheduled to visit.

Jose and Maria had no interest in their sons schooling. After all time would be better spent watching Jose Luis sin Censura. Homework, help with the homework? After all they could not speak or read English and after all they might miss a sizzling chapter of the latest novela "Amor Sin Fronteras".

Pedro the son of Jose and Maria grew up. By the time he was 13 he was arrested for selling marijuana. He shaved his head, wore baggy clothes and got a tatoo. When neighbors asked Maria if he was a gangster she would say "no its a fashion statement".

A year later Pedro (now known as Sleepy) was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon. Since he was 14 he was released back out to the streets.

Meanwhile Juan and Marta kept working, struggling and were able to make some improvements on their home.

One day after visiting her social worker Maria tells Joae of this wonderful program called section 8. She tells Jose as he sips a beer while watching Jerry Springer that with section 8 they can rent a home in Lancaster. Section 8 will pay for 70% of the rent. Now we too can live in a home withoug a down payment, without having saved or worked. Our virtue is that we lived on welfare for all of these years and this is our reward for having done so.

A few days later poor Juan realizes that his new next door neighbor doesn't have a job and has no intention of getting one. That his girlfriend Maria is on welfare. Soon articles start missing. Bicycles lawn furniture anything that is left unlocked. A few nights later Police arrive and arrest Pedro for selling narcotics. Guns are also found inside the home.

Juan has his reward. Hard work, sacrifice and blood sweat and tears have yielded his reward. A home next to gang banging, drug selling low lifes. End of story.

How sad. I was under the impression that all fairy tales ended with "and they all lived happily ever after".

About Alberto Marrero Salas:
Cuban American. Partner Nacara 2000 practicing immigration law. e-mail:

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