A Country Of Immigrants
Bianka Diza - Individual Project - 5/17/2015
from New Worlds of Literature by Jerome Beaty & J. Paul Hunter
"So Mexicans Are Taking Jobs From Americans"
by Jimmy Santiago Baca
"O Yes? Do they come on horses with rifles, and say, Ese
gringo, gimmee your job?
... Do they mug you, a knife at your throat, saying, I want your job?"
Americans condemn immigrants for the lack of available jobs in the U.S.,
and accuse immigrants of stealing jobs meant for Americans.
But exactly how could they take away jobs?
Jobs are not forcibly taken, they are given.
Immigrants cannot be blamed for America's inefficiencies.
Baca's poem blatantly challenges American ethics while emphasizing the rapacious nature of the wealthy.
"An asthmatic leader crawls turtle heavy, leaning on an assistant, and from a nest of wrinkles on his face...
[to] cameramen, rasping
'they're taking our jobs away.'"
America's leaders and politicians are of the most influential, outspoken,
and wealthiest in the world...
but their sense of reality is distorted.
Their idea of America is outdated, excessive, and ignorant, as
they are driven every day by chauffeurs,
told exactly what to say by editors and assistants,
and are cared and shopped for by servants:
politicians do not share a reality with their less affluent public.
They consistently prioritize trade, globalization, corporations, and deficits
over education, health coverage, or job creation.
They're taking our jobs away?
Congressmen make $174,000 annually; Cabinet members make about $200,000
while the US median household income is almost $52,000.
Politicians are the last people in America to worry about immigrants taking their jobs.
Have they forgotten who built America?
Nobody is full red white and blue.
America was literally found by immigrants,
and immigrants literally built it from the ground up.
Pilgrims emigrated from Britain in an effort to find freedom,
leading to the founding of America.
Africans were forced to emigrate into slavery, where they built America's economy and geographic expansion.
The world followed...
British, German, French, Irish, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Italians, Hungarians, Canadians, and many more...
In just over 30 years, approximately 20 million immigrants traveled to America.
America's infrastructure can be attributed to immigrants,
and America clearly benefited from the influx of people.
From these immigrant entrepreneurs and craftsmen:
businesses, railroads, buildings, factories, canals were created;
production in automobiles, garments, textiles and steel flourished;
and overall geographic expansion progressed.
The situation was a WIN-WIN!
America undoubtedly benefited from the increased population, cheap labor,
and overall economic gains.
At the same time immigrants could benefit from working in America:
They made the liberating escape from poverty, drought, and/or famine;
They could prosper with freedoms exclusively found in America;
Paid work was abundant and needed.
Today's immigrants want the same things as the first founding immigrants.
"The millions and millions of people fight to live,
search for pearls in the darkest depths"
These billions "hold their breath for years trying to cross poverty to just having something."
There are billions of people suffering relentlessly in foreign countries.
How can they be blamed for wanting to leave a destitute country to
instead be in the affluent, free, safe country of America?
Most Americans do not understand the concept of having nothing,
of living in a country that does not allow basic freedoms, or provide for basic needs, or even have a basic, functioning government or infrastructure.
Americans must understand that their ethics are mistaken,
that immigrants are not to be blamed for America's inefficiencies.
Is it "the poor marching for a little work" that steal American jobs?
Americans continue to feel entitled to the very land and economy built by immigrants,
continue to deny refugees of a humane life
because it might undermine a "true American."
The question remains: how can immigrants be blamed
for wanting a better life?
The social stigma advocating that immigrants steal American jobs is unwarranted, unethical, and unfair.
So Mexicans aren't taking jobs from Americans... where do the jobs go?
"I hear only a few people got all the money in the world,
the rest count their pennies
to buy bread and butter."
Keep in mind Baca's poem was written in 1977, yet here in 2015:
The wealthy have a stake in
"All the money in the world,"
yet the billions (10 figures!) that multiple corporations make yearly
do not help the paying consumers earning just 5 figures.
RAPACIOUS: Aggressively greedy.
Indeed, it seems accurate to characterize the
actions of the wealthy as rapacious.
"Small white farmers selling out to clean-suited farmers
living in New York, who've never been on a farm,
don't know the look of a hoof or
the smell of a woman's body bending all day long in fields."
Baca calls these clean-suited buyers "farmers,"
but clearly these businessmen are not laborers.
They succeed in buying out their competition simply because they have
the funds to buy out the only competition: small businesses.
Of course, no one is forcing the small farmers to sell out, but the amount that the wealthy can offer makes it seem sensible to sell out.
In the long run, the big businessmen paid a tiny sum to
further conquer American land and money.
"Below that cool green sea of money, millions and millions of people fight to live."
These millions and millions include natives and immigrants
of all genders, ethnicities, and history.
America alone has 45 million people in poverty; that's 14.5% of the American population.
These people are stuck in poverty,
so why do the poor fight to survive while the rich bathe in excess?
Stop blaming immigrants!
There are considerable alternatives to improving America
besides restricting immigrants:
Raise minimum wages! This would lift many workers out of poverty while reducing the need for government welfare/assistance programs.
Support local businesses! Locally owned businesses create jobs, make the market more diverse, and boost competition- which further encourages innovation and low prices. By shopping local, consumers can be sure that their products are not from a foreign, underpaid sweatshop. Perhaps most importantly, buying local supports regular people in the community, rather than a CEO buying another vacation home.
Improve education! With better education, more opportunities would be available to students. The uneducated immigrants that Americans are so worried about would not have access to the jobs American students would have. Furthermore, education can improve knowledge and health, overall improving the quality of life.
Improve health care! People with lower incomes consistently have worse health, which negatively effects income and out-of-pocket spending. Improving medicine and vaccines and establishing preventative health plans would lead to a trained, healthy society more likely to survive and thrive; families can regulate reproduction by planning, which helps to curtail the poor population.
These are just a few alternatives!
These alternatives allow poor people and immigrants alike to be more productive and increase their income.
Increased earnings could be spent on essential purchases like food, clothing, housing, and other services that will improve a family's quality of life.
Increased spending in turn would lead to a stimulated economy,
creating jobs and increasing both supply and demand.
This also allows opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses to create
more jobs and financial security.
And perhaps most notably, corporations won't absolutely
conquer the American economy.
Low-skilled immigrants can hold lower-skilled occupations, pushing educated Americans to hold higher-skilled (and higher paying) jobs.
Right now, "on TV, in the streets, in offices, [people] should be saying,
'we aren't giving the children a chance to live.'
Mexicans are taking our jobs, they say instead.
What they really say is, let them die, and the children too."
Immigrants can live better lives in America,
and improve American lives!
Until then, corporations will continue to own more and more of America
while foreign and American children alike "aren't [given] a chance to live"
as their consumption and entertainment will be to their own demise.