The Immigration Debate

This has been a very emotional topic here in the United States of late.  With 11 Million illegal immigrants in the country, it IS  a big issue not just because of the sheer number of people involved, but more importantly, the economic and social impact that number has on the bigger picture.

I am an immigrant myself.  However, I was lucky enough to have come here properly documented, and soon I will be filing for my citizenship.  I know of people who have braved it all, overstayed their visas and gone TNT.  (Tago ng tago)  Friends have sought my advice and I have discouraged friends and family from going that route, only because it is such a bad trade off despite the lure of dollars and a supposedly better life.

The issue at hand is what is America to do with all these undocumented aliens who are now a huge part of American society.  A bill has been filed in Congress that would make it a crime to be an illegal alien, and it makes those who help/employ illegal aliens criminally liable.  President Bush, for his part, has been pushing for a “Guest Worker” Program that will allow more open employment for aliens given certain restrictions.  This is important to the huge corporations which openly employ illegals because they are paid much lower wages and have little or no benefits available.  (See, in this land of milk and honey, a social security number is necessary to avail of employment benefits, and you don’t get a social security number unless you are authorized to stay here — meaning you are a LEGAL and not illegal alien.)

Hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens have taken to the streets all over the country militantly protesting against this move of the government to curtail the continued influx of undocumented aliens, particularly those who walk across the border on the West Coast where certain states share a border with Mexico.  At the same time, many Americans are angered and have resorted to forming civilian groups to “protect their homeland.”  In many cases in those states by the American border, this has become a literal struggle as fences are broken and cattle stray, stretches of land become garbage dumps for the refuse (both human and otherwise) of those who trek to the so-called land of milk and honey.

It’s a very emotional issue — but only in America will you see illegal aliens criticizing the government of their host country for wanting to push them out.  So I was wondering in my Pinoy mind what we Filipinos in Manila would think if, let us say, the Taiwanese came in droves, or our Indonesian neighbors decided to swim across to our southern shores and started taking jobs which are already scarce for fellow Filipinos.  [ ————- Pause for effect ————– esep, esep, esep..]

How would we feel if Mandarin or Bahasa, let us say, suddenly became the second predominant language, with signs and announcements now being done in Tagalog and this second language?  (Flashback to those violent riots against the Chinese in Indonesia..)  Here in the US, you call your bank to get your balance, after the usual welcome comes another voice speaking in Spanish offering you to push 2 to continue in Spanish.

Both sides are poised to fight as a matter of survival.  Why are the protesters shouting this law will break up families?  Because many undocumented aliens have given birth to children here who are by law now American Citizens, but whose status does not confer the same privilege and status to their illegal alien parents.

I agree that America is made up of immigrants from all over the world.  They are who make up America.  But the country is in bad shape, and its economy is taking a beating from all fronts.  When you start disenfranchising the locals, you have a tendency to breed resentment towards newcomers. 

The African Americans are no longer the biggest minority here in the US.  Yet they have been here for centuries.  The Latinos stand to lose the most, and we Filipinos have our TNTs in the hundreds of thousands.. perhaps even a million.  I’m watching how this will go.

You have a president who is ending a second term and he doesn’t have re-election to worry about.  Not exactly the best president this country has had — but his homestate of Texas is one of those who will be gravely affected any which way this bill goes.  Se Habla Espanol?

Good Friday

I started writing a post late yesterday on the essence of being a Christian.. Is it forgiveness or repentance?  I’d like to think it is forgiveness.  Repenting for one’s wrongdoing is easier than forgiving one who had wronged us — it’s human nature. 

One of the friends I had met through my bestfriend, Fe, had once said it was hard to do what is right — it was hard to be a Christian.  But he always chose the Christian way.  It is so much easier to be angry and spiteful even if it is heavier on the heart.  Why then is it so hard to forgive and just let go?

I think of those who harbor so much ill will against me and my family.  After a lifetime of loving, it seems all that is now remembered is the pain gnawing at their hearts.  Every morning, my mother-in-law now shares the decade I devote to my Mom.  I pray that Mother Mary lighten the burdens of these 2 special mothers.  I pray that my mother-in-law’s mourning doesn’t weaken her spirit — I know it has broken her heart.  She would often tell my Mom when she feels down that it she didn’t know it would hurt this much to lose a child.  For all intents and purposes, the daughter she raised is gone.  Even if it riles her up to remember the same daughter addressing her by her first name, deep in her heart she still worries about this daughter’s health and her family.

I would be a hypocrite to say I don’t have anger in my heart.  After all, I was told that I was never considered by them as a part of the family.  My husband was maligned, my mother-in-law hurt needlessly.  I am trying to be forgiving but there is still too much pain.

So on this Good Friday I pray for the virtue of forgiveness.  I am finding it so hard to be a true Christian given the anger in my heart.  I am trying.. without much success, but I am trying.