Monday, October 29, 2007

My blood boils

Reading in the New York Times about the fates of many of the illegal workers caught in the fires in Southern California, I can't believe people can be so heartless and so exploitative. Let me rephrase that: I can believe it, but it makes me want to scream.
Immigrants from south of the border, many illegal, provide the backbone of menial labor in San Diego, picking fruit, cleaning hotel rooms, sweeping walks and mowing lawns.

The wildfires, one of the biggest disasters to strike the county, exposed their often-invisible existence in ways that were sometimes deadly.

Maybe these fires will do what the hateful rhetoric and the racism and the wall and the stupid policies of this administration have not been able to do (although it is working). Maybe Mexicans will figure out they are not wanted here and they will stop coming. Maybe they will start demanding a better life in their own country. I seriously suggest none of you holds your breath while waiting for this to happen. Mexicans would rather literally go through rings of fire and find dignified work somewhere else, than stand up for their rights in their own country. That they are paid for their hard work, both at home and here, with such callous disregard is tragically unfair, but I wonder when will they finally refocus their energies. To fight hunger, these Mexicans don't beg, they don't steal, they look for work that will feed them.

Ms. Trujillo and others who help the immigrants said they saw several out in the fields as the fires approached and ash fell on them. She said many were afraid to lose their jobs.

“There were Mercedeses and Jaguars pulling out, people evacuating, and the migrants were still working,” said Enrique Morones, who takes food and blankets to the immigrants’ camps. “It’s outrageous.”

Some of the illegal workers who sought help from the authorities were arrested and deported. Opponents of illegal immigration, including civilian border watch groups, seized on news that immigrants had been detained at the Qualcomm Stadium evacuation center as evidence of trouble that illegal immigrants cause.

The Border Patrol also arrested scores of illegal immigrants made visible by the fires.

I know this sounds like a broken record, but I just wish that one day that freaking state would find itself without all the hired help.

Some people have speculated, including on the Web, that immigrants might have set some of the fires, as has occurred with campfires lighted in fields. The authorities have not given any causes linked to immigration.
And why would these people want to do such a thing, when their livelihoods depend on those houses and those gardens? Out of frustration and hatred? That is what people who have a nasty conscience would think.

“San Diego likes its illegal migrants as invisible as possible,” Mr. Cornelius said. “So whenever something happens that calls attention to their presence, it is fodder for the local anti-immigration forces.”

For the immigrants, the fires may have dried up some work. But some speculate on strong work prospects like cleanups. By early afternoon near a heavily damaged neighborhood in the Rancho Bernardo area, four men stood on a corner, waiting for work offers.

“It is a shame what happened,” said a man who gave just his first name, Miguelito. “But we think there will be jobs to clean or build.”

That is right, Miguelito. In New Orleans, after the spectacularly coordinated and efficient services of the federal relief agency, the natives wore t-shirts that said:

FEMA: Find Every Mexican Available.

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