By Anonymous (not verified) on September 15, 2009

Immigrants, even those who are here without documentation, deserve health care.

Let’s remember the context of the ugly outburst by Rep. Joe Wilson. R-S.C., who shouted, “You lie!” during President Obama’s eloquent speech to a joint session of Congress. Wilson was reacting to Obama saying, “There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.”

In the aftermath of Wilson’s rudeness, most Democrats and pundits denounced him for his lack of civility and his lack of respect for the office of the president.

But few people grappled with the central question: Why shouldn’t undocumented people get health care?

If we are to believe the written words of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, invoked by the president, that access to healthcare is above all a moral issue, then why should it matter if someone lacks legal status in this country?

Isn’t health care a human right? And aren’t immigrants, with or without legal documents, also human?

As the son of Mexican immigrants, I often ask myself: Where’s our Gandhi who will stage a prolonged hunger strike for the humanity of undocumented workers? Where’s our Martin Luther King with the magnificent oratory skills capable of moving a country in the right direction for those who toil in our agricultural fields, front yards, homes and kitchens?

Americans benefit tremendously from the sweat and labor of undocumented immigrants.

Immigrants have historically contributed to making this nation the most powerful and affluent country in the world. From building the railroads to the freeways, from making the bricks to the buildings, from growing our food to serving it, from raising the children of the wealthy to cleaning their homes, immigrants continue to make a valuable contribution to this country.

What’s more, while these immigrants cannot receive Social Security benefits, they pay into the system.

This is definitely not the time for Obama and the Democrats to try to get the Republicans on board by denying immigrants health care.

It is time for both Democrats and Republicans, along with the citizenry of this country, to acknowledge and appreciate the more than 12 million undocumented workers who help us all in so many ways.

“Los de abajo” (those on the bottom) should be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor with a sense of dignity and respect.

They earn it everyday when they work hard here in the United States.

Alvaro Huerta is a Ph.D. student in the department of city and regional planning at the University of California — Berkeley and a visiting scholar at the Chicano Studies Research Center at UCLA.

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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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