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You Know I’m Right – The Willie Gandara, Jr. Edition

At yesterday’s County Commissioner’s Court meeting, House Bill 12 was being discussed.  According to the El Paso Times, HB12 “would bar cities, counties, and school districts from telling their police officers they can’t enforce immigration policies”.  In other words, police would be given the right to question the immigration status of people they come in contact with.

Needless to say, there was a lot of opposition to that notion from the Commishes.  They said it would cost too much money to retrain officers in immigration law, and County Judge Veronica Escobar wondered aloud why Governor Rick Perry is focusing on a bill she considers anti-immigrant instead of figuring out a way out of the state’s 27 billion dollar deficit.  I agree that the budget should be a priority, but I don’t agree with what Commissioner Gandara, Jr. had to say on the subject.

He said, “We need to remember that America is a nation of immigrants.”  I have one word for you Commissioner. 

YAWN.

That is the oldest, tiredest, and lamest argument in the book.  Immigrants leave their home country for a better life.  They leave because they know their chances of succeeding are better in their adopted country than in their mother country.  They leave because the quality of life is better in their adopted country.  That’s why my great-grandparents left Lebanon.  That’s also why my great-grandparents left Mexico.  When they got here, they continued to speak their native language, but they learned English as well because the country to which they emigrated was an English speaking country.  They continued to honor their culture by observing rituals that were important to them in their native country, but they also observed American rituals as well because they made the conscious decision to come to America and they wished to become American.  They didn’t disparage their home country, but more importantly, they didn’t disparage their adopted country because it was their Land of Opportunity, and they were grateful for the chance to live freely.  They honored it and taught their children to be proud of their heritage, but prouder of their American roots.

Commissioner Gandara, if you were an illegal immigrant, you could not hold public office.  As a non-English speaker, you could not fully take part in holding public office.  In order to make your life better in the United States and be able to help those who could not help themselves, you would have to become an American citizen and learn the language.  If I recall correctly, those are two of the things President Obama said illegal immigrants need to do.  Why would you not encourage people to do that and better their lives here in the States, rather than spout that old, tired line that essentially gives people license to continue living in the shadows?

As an illegal immigrant, life would be terrifying.  There would be no recourse if someone cheated me out of wages, robbed me, or assaulted me.  I would never go to the police because I would be worried that my status would be discovered and I would be deported.  That is a fear that  illegal immigrants live with even without the passage of HB12.  Do you really think someone who is living on the edge of deportation cares about HB12?  They care about making it through the day without bringing attention to themselves.  You said in Commissioners Court yesterday that your district is made up of illegal immigrants.  Well, Commissioner, you do them a terrible disservice by not educating them on how to properly navigate the immigration process and come out of the shadows.  You speak English, Commissioner.  You hold office, as do your family members.  You have assimilated.  Why would you not encourage your constituents to do the same?  Why do you continue to perpetuate the image of jack-booted law enforcement who are out to get illegal immigrants with your opposition to HB12?  Illegal immigrants have been living in El Paso since time immemorial, very often for generations, with no problems whatsoever.  Wouldn’t it be better for them to fully participate in the country in which they live?  Wouldn’t it be better for them to better their lives as your family did, as my family did? 

You know I’m right, Commissioner Gandara.

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