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Mi casa, Su casa? "Juan Term" Bush and his amnesty offer

By Isabel Lyman
web posted August 6, 2001

Linda Chavez and Jeff Jacoby made it clear: They think the Bush administration's proposal to grant legal status to the 3 million illegal Mexicans who live here is a swell idea.

Linda Chavez

"They clean the office buildings in which we work and bus the tables in the restaurants where we eat," writes Ms. Chavez in a recent column. "They take care of our babies, clean our homes, mow our lawns, repair our roofs and build our houses."

"They fill our enormous demand for low-skill labor -- everything from cleaning houses to picking crops to providing day care," chimed in Mr. Jacoby in his syndicated column.


In my casa, I rocked my babies, and I do all the cleaning. My son mows the lawn and pumps gas at a service station. And the roof repairs? My husband and a fella named Mr. Johnson laid down the red shingles this spring. My family and I entertain a pair of silly ideas. One, doing chores builds character; and, two, it is wrong for employers to disregard labor laws and hire illegals for a pittance.

Linda continues, "Without them (illegal immigrants), modern American life would be more difficult and more expensive." Jeff describes the "gifts they bring" as their initiative, industry, and imagination.

That's all news to me. In fact, modern life got more difficult and less industrious when I befriended a delightful family of Mexican illegals several years ago.

Marta and her son and daughter hailed from Veracruz. They lived across my street with Hazel, who hailed from El Salvador. (Hazel was probably breaking a zoning ordinance or two with all the unrelated folks she gave room and board to, but, um, that's another story.)

I speak Spanish, so I served as the trio's unofficial translator. When the two women got injured in a car accident because they were walking on the road at night in a blizzard, a 911 dispatcher asked me to accompany them in the ambulance. For the robbery that occurred at their home -- the first serious one in the neighborhood -- the cops also had my number. ESL tutors, immigration officials, church members ... I communicated with all sorts of people.

I doubt if every one of us, as Linda notes, benefits from the availability of this ready work force.

Ms. Chavez was tapped for a cabinet position, so she must not be totally clueless, right? But I remained skeptical, so I asked another accomplished lady -- a doctor from Sapulpa, Oklahoma, who attended medical school in Costa Rica -- what she thinks about this idea of granting amnesty to supposedly hard-working, God-fearing illegals. "This amnesty will benefit the Mexicans, but it will be to our detriment. Bush is selling our sovereignty," said Dr. Ivette Prado Farmer.

She passionately added, "Why is it that he (Bush) does not try to see why the Mexicans leave their country, and confront the Mexican president about it? Mexico has to establish social improvement for their underprivileged and not just brush them off to the border."

Shh, Doc. Presidente Vicente Fox's feelings might get hurt.

I then turned to Haydee Pavia of West Hills, California, who is retired from nursing and was born in a Latin American country. I figure a woman with her background would agree with Linda's claim that it's only "sensible" to grant legal status to these folks.

No way, Jose. Haydee shared a letter that she had sent to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

"American workers are losing their jobs to illegal immigrants, and taxpayers have to pick up the tab for more schools for their anchor babies and for social services," explained Haydee's letter.

Caramba! The doc wasn't pleased. Neither was the nurse. What about the butcher, the baker, or the candlestick maker? I couldn't track down any of those workers, so I turned to a lawyer in Ware, Massachusetts. What did Ken Robinson think of the amnesty business?

"It's a slap in the face to those foreigners who were stupid enough to play by the rules and apply for legal immigration and are patiently waiting their turn," thundered the attorney Robinson. "The proposed amnesty reflects the contempt the ruling elite has for the rule of law and the wishes of the American people."

Well, Ken, there is, at least, one elite who is on Team American People. As I was channel surfing, I caught Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado) delivering a speech on C-Span in which he stated that illegals "should not be rewarded by amnesty," considering their first action in this country was to break our laws, and warned of the perils of "trivializing" a serious domestic policy issue.

Three channels away from the thoughtful Tancredo was the Queen of the Trivial Argument herself -- Linda Chavez. She was on Fox News telling Bill O'Reilly that without illegal immigrants, Americans wouldn't have any tomatoes for their salads. Bill looked like he wanted to file her condescending comment under the "Most Ridiculous Item of the Day" segment of his show but couldn't, since she is a "political analyst" for Fox.

Go for it, Bill, and excuse me while I tend to the tomatoes, cucumbers, and broccoli in my garden. ESR

Izzy Lyman, author of The Homeschooling Revolution, can be reached at ilyman7449@aol.com.

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