Recently, while in the break room, two of my coworkers were discussing a scandal involving two border patrol officers. Apparently, they had been pursuing a suspicious man driving a van with nearly 100 pounds of marijuana. After abandoning his vehicle, the man was shot dead by the officers after supposedly brandishing a weapon at them. They are now facing hard time for murder.
This part of the conversation did not bother me. If those two men were following proper procedure, I feel no sympathy for a drug runner threatening officers. It was the tirade that followed that got to me.
“I don’t see what the big deal is,” one said. “Seriously, shoot one of those suckers when they climb over the fence and see how many come up behind ’em.”
I resisted the urge to remind him that we do not live in fascist Germany – at least not yet. No point arguing politics with strangers.
“Yeah, maybe if we’d start rounding ’em better, the ones here would learn to keep the floors clean,” said another.
At that, I lost my restraint and jumped from my chair, accidentally pummeled my doughnut with a newspaper and stormed out of the room. I was angry all day.
It got me thinking about how all over the nation, politicians yammer about “illegals” roaming the streets, committing crimes, taking jobs and wasting taxpayer dollars. Spin as they may, it is not hard to see their rhetoric is more about votes than crime, economy, or even the American taxpayer they feign to care so much about.
According to the Bureau of Justice, the percentage of Latinos incarcerated has remained relatively stable for 15 years, while the numbers of white and black inmates are increasing. Therefore, it is clear that Latinos are not the biggest cause of crime.
As for taking jobs – give me a break. Americans thumb their noses at most jobs immigrants take. It is not the American dream to wander the country looking for crops to pick, or to take dead-end jobs that pay little and require virtually no skills. If these workers were taken out of the country, I sincerely doubt citizens here would be jumping to get their jobs.
Granted, the American taxpayer may have a gripe. There are many people in this country who use services funded by taxes, such as AFDC and food stamps, but they have to be legal residents. These same citizens who do not add much to the tax pool and are still encouraged to file tax returns, even though they know they will not have to pay. They do it so they can get a return called the Earned Income Tax Credit – another thing immigrants can’t receive. The bigger drain on taxpayers is not undocumented workers, but rather our homegrown poor.
However, even the taxpayer complaint is shifty. Most people here illegally work for legitimate companies that don’t pay under the table, so they have to file W-2s and have taxes automatically deducted from their pay. The kicker is they have to use fake social security numbers, so they are not eligible to get any of the money they pay back. According to a Houston Chronicle report from January, every year the Social Security Administration receives a 10 percent surplus from these nonrefundable payments.
The sad truth is we are bothered by Latino people for no other reason than perceived differences. They’re easy to identify, and we want them to speak English. We should be ashamed of ourselves. The United States was conceived and built by men born in other nations, but now we’re targeting an entire ethnic group, citizen or no, under the guise of physical and economic security. This is a great American shame. We claim to be a country founded on the ideals of equality, yet we now only accept our northern neighbors. We’ve rolled up the welcome mat on the south side.
Sean Reed is a junior political science major. His column appears every Wednesday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent firstname.lastname@example.org.