4/26/2010

Gracias!

















"Do not oppress the alien in your land, for you also have the heart of an alien: you were once aliens in the land of Egypt." (Exodus 23:9)

Three Mexicans are repairing my roof. They work hard from dawn to dusk. When they arrived in their old truck, I didn’t check their visas.

Across the wetland, other Spanish voices, men building new homes for middle class Americans: they send their daily earnings back to wives, parents and children in Mexico.

Driving to the airport, I see Latinos caddying for pastel-sweatered golfers. Others manicure the fairway, or deliver truckloads of beauty bark.

I fly over America, gazing down on farmlands where countless Chicanos harvest our food. We eat from their hands, and never think of them.

In Pennsylvania, my family home, I drive through the little town called “mushroom capital of the world.” In dank bunkers, low-wage immigrant workers pick mushrooms, sustaining the whole local economy.

Nearby, in the lovely horse farms and steeple-chase fields of Chester County, immigrants are ubiquitous, exercising thoroughbreds, mucking out stables, pampering lawns. In old Colonial homes, they wash, iron, make beds, and baby-sit the children of privilege.

Now, perhaps you complain that I don't distinguish between legals and illegals. Neither do you, my friend! Whether you admit it or not, we all participate in a Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell immigration policy. Our economy depends on it! We desperately need these immigrant workers them for agribusiness, hotels, meat-packing plants, and all manner of labor that pays very low wages, with no benefits, for what the rest of us won't do.

If the U.S. government expelled undocumented immigrants (I prefer to call them that, because no person is "illegal" and "aliens" are from outer space), our lifestyle would collapse. Nearly every apple or French-fry passes through their fingers, in orchards and bean-fields, in meat-packing plants and stock yards and steaming restaurant kitchens. Invisible hands feed us - the hands of strangers, the hands of the poor.

Gracias to our Latino families! I pray that they may share our dreams, for we all share one Spirit, the Spirit of the real America.

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