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The Jehoshua Novels


If This Doesn’t Persuade You We Need Immigration Reform STAT, Nothing Will

We hear an awful lot – too much, in my book – about the shiftless, lazy welfare-grubbing, taxpayer mooching undocumented workers flooding our nation, and overwhelming our social services.

And then there’s this guy, who I believe is far more representative of the average immigrant who comes to this nation:

They are busboys, dishwashers, construction workers. They are on their feet at enervating jobs all day and often all night. Many do not have health insurance. Most find it difficult to afford the increasingly hefty fees New York Road Runners charges for its races, especially the marathon, which now costs at least $227.

For [Julio] Sauce, that is half a week’s paycheck.

Sauce finishes first in his age group, 40-49, regularly, despite working ten hours a day as a cook. Recently, he worked from 2:30PM to 12:30AM on a Saturday evening, and grabbed three hours’s sleep before winning a half-marathon in Central Park, a good hour’s ride from his home on Coney Island. Chew on that for a bit: he works 60 and 70 hour weeks (we presume he’s not bound by union regulations) and still manages to find time to train to win races in one of the most athletic and competitive cities on the planet.

I ride my bike a lot in the wee hours of the morning (not as wee now as just a few weeks ago, admittedly). The neighborhoods I most worry about riding through?

Not the wealthy or upper-middle class neighborhoods. Those folks are soundly asleep and I’m white, so the private security guards wave and smile and go back to napping.

No, it’s the immigrant neighborhoods: the Asians, the Latinos, the Caribbean folk. Those neighborhoods are bustling with folks rushing to work, even on Sundays. The buses run frequently, livery cabs zip in and away from the curbs, men and women with backpacks and earphones jaywalk to the subway station across the street. I have to be vigilant, especially in the dark.

Folks work hard. Folks get hurt and sometimes they have to go to the ER, and even Ronald Reagan felt it was necessary for any ER to treat any patient, no matter what the cost and no matter whether they could afford it or not.

Of course, Reagan also inaugurated the whole “welfare queen” lie, by making up an anecdote.

We can all come up with anecdotes about lazy shiftless immigrants. It’s called “stereotyping” or worse. Facts, fortunately, have a liberal bias.

3 comments to If This Doesn’t Persuade You We Need Immigration Reform STAT, Nothing Will

  • Is that article serious? The problem with the way we treat immigrants is that they don’t make enough money to participate in running events? Because participation in running events is some sort of basic need for sustainment of the human condition in some manner? I could point to several thousand people in downtown San Diego who, if you gave them $227, would think of at least 200 things they would rather do with it than participate in some stupid marathon. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of the finish line at a marathon,” forsooth.

    We have an immigration policy. We make it illegal to come here without permission, then we declare amnesty for those who did so and got away with it long enough. Rinse, repeat.

    We could deal with the “too big to fail” banks by having the same policy for bank robbers. Avoid capture for two years and you are pardoned and get to keep the money you stole. Big banks would be gone in less than a year, and enormous amounts of wealth would be redistributed.

  • hvd

    Although I don’t agree with Jayhawk with regard to immigration policy he is right in criticizing your use of language. There is nothing about the “hardship” this immigrant had to suffer meeting the marathon entry fee that would change my mind about immigration policy stat. There is a lot about that article that might encourage a change in minimum wage and or wage law generally. I recently challenged you with regard to another over the top and not clearly thought out argument that you posed. Although I said there that you should be ashamed I am becoming more certain that what you should be is more careful in your use of language and rhetoric.

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