I grew up in a town where 90% of the people were farm workers; another 3% were unemployed; and 7% owned the farms where the workers worked.* Nowhere was this division clearer than in school, where 60% of the students were the children of the 7%. When I graduated high school—because I did, after all, graduate—all my friends, who had not and could not graduate, were not allowed into the stadium were the graduation was held (because of their respective “affiliations” and their status as unwanteds). The stadium was filled with the 7%ers and their children, friends, and others; my friends, dozens of them, leaned against the chain link fence which kept the haves inside the stadium—they cheered when my name was called. My friends made up the 3%, above.
The 90% (mostly illegal aliens who immigrated from Mexico) were hard-working people who had been coming and going for decades, working the garlic and tomato harvests, paying taxes, supporting large families back in Mexico, all the while struggling to raise their children according to American customs which they didn’t really understand. Those that failed made up the 3%, who, confused and marginalized, took to gangs, drugs, and guns to assert their role in American culture, even if that role was the one reserved for those who justify police presence and prison funding.
Ultimately, the 90% kept that town alive.
I heard Rafael Anchia speak not too long ago. He’s an impressive politician from Texas—a Democrat from the 103rd district. Some have high hopes for him. He called illegal immigrants “entrepreneurs” who must raise “venture capital” (the money it takes to cross the border) in order to fund a “start up” (the journey to find a job) which they hope will thrive in a difficult and risky economic environment where death is very much a possibility. Speaking to a large group in the Silicon Valley, Anchia’s message resonated with everyone there. He asked: in these times, wouldn’t it be better to have more entrepreneurs rather than less?
Republicans, when they stop inhaling glue long enough, have begun to see the economic benefits of illegal entrepreneurs. They question the value of less illegal aliens on the very foundations of our free market system. I hope this kind of thinking continues. But there’s a lot of glue!