By Contributor on August 27, 2010

By Alvaro Huerta

I’m the son of Mexican immigrants, but I ain’t no anchor baby.

My late father, Salomon, first migrated to the United States during the 1950s via the Bracero Program, in which more than 4.6 million rural Mexicans performed desperately needed agricultural work in this country. He worked long hours, six days a week, for little pay and under terrible conditions. Later, as a legal permanent resident, he performed factory work for decades at sub-minimum wage.

Meanwhile, my late mother, Carmen, originally came to this country during the 1960s, securing employment as a house cleaner for mostly white, middle-class families. Lacking formal education, like my father, she worked as a domestic worker for more than 40 years. This did not stop her, however, as a naturalized U.S. citizen, from seeking more clients in her twilight years.

Currently, Republican leaders, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are making a big fuss about the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants. They’re calling for a change in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which stipulates that all persons born in the United States are citizens. According to Graham, undocumented immigrants come to this country simply to “drop a child,” or what he pejoratively refers to “Drop and Leave.”

Republicans don’t practice what they preach. While they endlessly talk about “family values” and the sanctity of the unborn child, when it comes to Latino immigrants, they defame the family unit and attack brown children.

Republican leaders are consciously instilling fear in the American public by scapegoating Latinos (both documented and undocumented) in this country. Let’s not forget that the controversial Arizona law (SB 1070), now held up in court, required police to stop anyone they suspected was here illegally — and that could mean all brown-skinned people.

Responding to the Republican anti-immigrant agenda, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., properly questioned how any person of Latino heritage could be a Republican. Reid should be applauded for calling out Latino Republicans for belonging to a political party that is hostile to them.

Instead of dealing with appalling unemployment figures, high home foreclosure rates and lack of credit for small businesses, Republicans are targeting the most vulnerable population in this country: undocumented immigrants. By doing so, they are no different than schoolyard bullies. Didn’t they learn basic manners, such as treating others with respect and dignity?

I certainly learned those lessons from my parents.

My parents taught my siblings and me to be good and generous to others. They also encouraged us to pursue higher education so that we don’t experience the same hardships they faced both in Mexico and this country.

My late parents came to this country to seek work and a better life for themselves and their family. They sacrificed themselves — toiling in backbreaking, low-wage, dead-end jobs — so their children could pursue better opportunities not available in their homeland.

Instead of praising them for their sacrifice and hard work, Republicans continue to bash and tarnish the memory of my late parents and the millions of others like them in this country.

This is shameful.

Alvaro Huerta is a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley’s department of city and regional planning and visiting scholar at UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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A plea to United States citizens to work for peace

An Indian journalist globally renowned as an advocate for the poor, Palagummi Sainath detailed the detrimental...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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