Published 12:00 am Monday, April 3, 2006
I’m on an e-mail thread with a couple old friends from West Virginia, and some of their new friends. Someone will start an email ranting about some issue or the other and the rest of us will typically pile on, much like this site works. And no, the topics are not how best to cook a road kill possum, or how to get the most of out of your free government cheese and butter.
A couple weeks back, just before the current immigration controversy erupted into conflagration, one of the guys who still lives in West Virginia sent out an e-mail to rest of us that said something to the effect that:
“Can you believe that coal companies are now bringing Mexicans into Kentucky and West Virginia to work the mines? We’re going to be overrun by them.”
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My first response was, “Welcome to 21st century America.”
But later, on my 30-minute drive home from work, I thought of something else. I’m not that quick on my feet and on my way home is when I think, “Gee, I wish I had said this, or done that.”
What’s happening in West Virginia now is no different than what has been going on there for as long as the coal industry has ruled. Coal operators have constantly been looking people who will do the work cheaper than those who they swindled out of the mineral rights to their land.
First, more than a century ago, they brought in blacks, then about the turn of the 20th century it was the Italians and other central and eastern European peoples (which is how my folks ended up there). These guys are always looking for someone they can exploit.
I imagine it’s not much different for other industries. Meatpacking is the best example. It used to be the highest paying, most skilled industrial job there was in America. Now it’s al low-skill, low-paying Mexican immigrants, legal and illegal, who are responsible for that steak on your grill.
Coal will go the same route. It’s just a matter of time. If I worked at the shipyard, I’d be looking over my shoulder.
But whose fault is this? The Mexicans? Or in previous times the Irish? Germans? Italians? Poles? All of whom are simply trying to survive, or is the fault of the companies that brought/bring them here to do the work so they can save money?
And in every case, these immigrants were blamed for any hard times the “native” population had. And in every case, these immigrants contributed to our country and culture, fought and died for America and generally made it a stronger, better nation.
I think the current immigration controversy is a bunch of baloney, cooked up by politicians looking for some fear to exploit for the 2006 mid-term elections. Apparently, “terrorists” aren’t frightening the populace like they used to, so we need a new enemy who is going to subvert our way of life.
Our natural inclination is to make criminals of them, which is what the bill passed by the House of Representatives does. This worked so well with people who drank during probation and our ongoing, never-ending War on Drugs, why not try it with illegal immigrants? I’m sure it will work equally as well. We’ll just be making criminals out of people who are otherwise hardworking and productive.
And, as usual, we’re going to round them up and deport them.
Let’s think about that for a minute. Who’s going to pick our fruit? Care for our kids? Build our homes? Process our Spam? I think it will be an interesting.
The bottom line is that Mexicans, legal or illegal, help drive the growth in our economy, just as the Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians, Poles and Russians did before them. As such, they should share in the fruits of that growth and not driven underground like animals.
OK, now let me have it….