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Immigrants, Not Felons

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A few miles from my home in Oceanside, every summer, it is harvest time in the strawberry fields. From sunrise to sunset, you can see the brown people picking thousands of strawberries in the hot noonday sun, backbreaking work that no American-born person would do unless they owned the farm or loved to garden. While all the tourists enjoy the sandy beaches and Lego land, while the yuppies drive their Hummers to La Jolla Cove and the San Diego Zoo, these hardworking people are hunched over hour after hour, males and females alike, until every strawberry is picked. Not many people would be desperate enough to take a job like this but these illegal immigrants are grateful when they are given this brutally hard labor for wages my teenager would laugh at.

When they were very young, my sons would ask questions about the men who stood on the side of the road day in and day out, waiting for work while we were carpooling it to school. “Who are they, Mommy? Where do they get the ten-speed bikes? Do they steal them?” When the boys were old enough, I took them down to Mexico myself to show them the appalling conditions these people live in every day. From our air-conditioned car I explained how hundreds of people risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones to sneak across the borders in the trunks of cars and sometimes boats, crawling through underground tunnels, walking across deserts in 100 plus degree heat, swimming across rivers and hiding in barrels, boxes and modified truck beds like common cargo.

While we sleep in warm beds with running water and electricity, cable television and toasty central heating, these human beings live in inhumane conditions worse than most dog houses. I watched my kids grow wide-eyed as they witnessed first hand entire families living in homemade shacks thrown together with cardboard boxes, discarded tires and trash can lids; mothers and children combing the streets, barefoot and in rags selling tacky homemade trinkets and chewing gum for pennies, just to survive.

It is worse after the rains come, when entire neighborhoods haphazardly built on the hillside, come sliding down and litter the Tijuana streets below. What little shelter these poor souls had is washed away with the mud and debris as if their makeshift lives never existed at all.

I told my boys, “You can bet that if we lived in a cardboard box on a hillside, that I would do anything I could to try and get you kids a ticket to a better life.” They wisely shook their heads and never asked again about the men standing street side and waiting for some job, any job. I meant every word I said.

Now our government is proposing that we label these resilient people “felons.” That anyone who aided an illegal immigrant would be aiding and abetting a felon. These are hardworking people who are mothers and fathers, daughters and sons. These are my eldest son’s grandparents. These are my best friend’s parents. Illegal immigrants are not aliens. They are human beings. They are not felons. They are people, who want a piece of the American dream. Felons are rapists, murderers and drug dealers. Felons are drunk drivers and robbers and thieves.

If illegal immigrants are felons, then every immigrant who came to this country should be labeled a felon. George Washington? A criminal! Betsy Ross? A common crook! Anyone who is not a Native American Indian would be described as a felon under the terms of this law. These felons are the people who wash our dishes in restaurants, baby-sit for our children, clean our bathroom floors and pull our weeds. They are the people who risk everything just for a little chance to make their lives better.

Yes, there are legal ways to enter the United States. But since 9/11, it has become even harder for people to migrate legally. These are people who aren’t able to wait for years to find out if they are one of the paltry few allowed legal entry into the USA. These are people who would die waiting. People of privilege get into our country first; people with light skin and an education. People like our governor, Austrian immigrant Arnold Schwarzenegger, who backs HR 4439 to solve the illegal immigration issue here in his adopted country.

This is the same country that Arnold dreamt of; the country that made it possible for him to marry a Kennedy and become a billionaire. This is the country my great grandparents escaped Ireland for and the country that lured the pilgrims to Plymouth Rock. In this country, we celebrate our diversity, brag about our freedom of religion, and our inclusivity.

We proudly show off the Statue of Liberty, calling out to the huddled masses, the tired and the weak. Today the Statue of Liberty cries real rusty tears of shame down her peeling, grey façade. While we criticize Israel for building a wall to keep suicide bombers out, we build our own walls to keep hard working families in – abject poverty. They aren’t coming over to blow themselves up on our busses and in our shopping malls. They are literally dying to come over just to take a shitty job. Anyone opposed to illegal immigration should have to pick strawberries in the sun for one day and then go sleep in a cardboard box.

What are we so afraid of?

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About candyekane

  • Welcome to the BC family, Candye! Great first article and lots of food for thought.

    Personally, I’d like to see it easier for those who want to immigrate and who are willing to jump through all the hoops to make the move. I’d like us not to be so suspicious of the men and women who want to make better lives for their families. I know it’s a difficult balancing act – protecting the country from those who would harm us vs. allowing others to pursue the American Dream. I think it can be done, but we need to pull our heads out of our asses and approach this logically.

    It may be a cold day in hell before this happens, but there are plenty of people trying.

  • RedTard

    Answer me this. If all Mexicans are these superhuman hard working types then how come all they can manage to build in their own country is cardboard shacks?

    Perhaps we’re not only the beneficiary of the brain drain but the hard work drain as well. The good workers come here and the lazy ones sit at home in their shacks. Who knows?

    A little known factoid. Although Mexico loves to act outraged at our ‘human rights abuses’ sending their illegals back. They treat central American illegals much worse in their country. Up to two year prison terms and $28,000 USD in fines per offense. Of course, we shouldn’t pattern our policies after those of Mexico but it is something to think about.

  • Anthony Grande

    Heartouching, but we have laws and we are in a time of war where people want to do damage. We cannot have open borders and we cannot have loose borders either.

    I and just about everyone else, except klan members, are all for immigration but illegal immigration is another issue.

    We need to make it a felony to illegally cross our borders or beaches (unless you are leaving Cuba or North Korea). This way people will be discouraged to cross the border illegally. Then from there we need to make it more easier to emigrate here legally unless you are already a felon.

    This will cause a steady flow of emigrants coming here, not only from Mexico, but from around the world.

  • Howard

    C Kane said “If illegal immigrants are felons, then every immigrant who came to this country should be labeled a felon. George Washington?”

    What utter nonsense! ILLEGAL aliens are ILLEGAL. They break the law of our land to come across our borders. George Washington broke no law. Your stance is apparently to accept anyone from anywhere who comes to our country provided only he can breathe when he arrives. Preposterous!


  • Ysidro

    Excuse me…

    You fail to note that every illegal alien has to steal a social security number to get work. Real Americans lives are manipulated by stealing SS#s.
    When an American files for unemployment checks they can be denied because an illegal alien is working under their #. So this American loses their pay twice to an illegal alien, because the government thinks the American is lying.

  • Ysidro says:
    You fail to note that every illegal alien has to steal a social security number to get work. Real Americans lives are manipulated by stealing SS#s.

    CK says:
    This is untrue. Most of the illegal immigrants in our city work for cash only on the side of the street. They dont need a ss# to work.

    Red Tard says:

    Answer me this. If all Mexicans are these superhuman hard working types then how come all they can manage to build in their own country is cardboard shacks?

    CK says: They have limited resources and build with what they have or can find for free.

    Anthomy GRande says:

    We need to make it a felony to illegally cross our borders or beaches (unless you are leaving Cuba or North Korea). This way people will be discouraged to cross the border illegally.

    CK: Our court system is hopelessly backed up with appeals and cases pending. Making them felons will only further back up the system and cause many families to disintegrate when their fathers and mothers are sent away. Doctors who treated illegals would also be committing a crime which would mean that many illegals would go untreated for communicable disease and be unimmunized. Kids sitting in a classroom next to yours with lice or tuberculosis will cause more damage to society.
    Making it illegal will not stop people from coming. People already come over at great personal risk and it is already illegal.

    Howard says:

    Your stance is apparently to accept anyone from anywhere who comes to our country provided only he can breathe when he arrives.

    CK: Actually, my stance is that they must be able to work when they arrive, which they already do! They will continue to come over regardless of the laws. They are starving and desperate. There are ways to solve this problem humanitarily and making them felons is not one of them. How about helping Mexico solve its own social services problems and maybe we can learn to also solve our own in the process? They are far more people who were born here, who drain our social services and give nothing back. Work for welfare is a reform whose time is long overdue. This would also help curb the illegal immigration issue.

  • Nancy

    And not having SS#s or legal drivers’ licenses, yet they still require & even demand social services such as subsidized housing, medical care when they’re sick, food stamps, free schooling for their kids, information & services having to be translated into their languages because they can’t be bothered to speak or learn English, etc. Then there’s increased police & fire services because these fine upstanding people persist in settling their differences the way they do at home: via gangs, violence, & mayhem, and ignoring the laws whether there or here. Oh, and let’s not forget the cost to the public when they cause accidents because they can’t read traffic signs, or more commonly, don’t care what red light/green light means; or when to make extra money, Mama makes papusas but doesn’t keep the kitchen & cooking areas any cleaner than she did at home, thereby spreading disease just like back home, meaning higher costs for public health….

    I could go on, but the list is too long & my time too limited. Illegals are NOT the saintly, hard-working people you try so hard to paint them; they are illegal, they are the scum of their own countries – or else they’d be back there making a living, and they are a verminous burden to all US citizens and legal immigrants.

  • WE have a strawberry festival here in Virginia Beach every year…you can see all kinds of white folks piking strawberries in Va Beach!

  • Buck

    I’d pick fruit! But I afford to live on minimum wage! I wouldn’t even think about working fast food. I’d work on an assembly line… for like a year. I used to work construction but all the foreigners made a complete mess of the Porta-Potties… then they started shittin’ in the woods. Screwed evra-thang up Guddammitt! The pissers are a freakin’ biohazard and evra-time I go back behind the bushes I step in latino shit. Ma dawg eats it… it’s full of sugar from all the gud-damn sugar they put in their gud-dam 7-11 breakfast coffee.

    Now I dunno’ what the heck I would do. Maybe a Home Depot job, or wud-da-fah…

    Crapola’ I hear the Border Patrol is hiring… Ah still gut ma youth! I can run a dog, or hop onna ATV and run a greaser down, good as anybody. Shitfire!!!

  • Buck (again)

    I just had me a revelation!

    Let’s tell the Prezident to contact Prezidente’ Fox and pass on to his royal highness to “fix his own gud-dam wagon and to quit exportin’ his people up here so we can take up HIS slack”

    Hmmm… I don’t have to explain nothin’ to my kids except the facts of political life and the hassell that piss-poor corruptable guv-mints can extract upon those folks that they are paid to serve!!! That’s the root freakin’ cause… savvy Hombre’?

  • Benedictine

    “Yes, there are legal ways to enter the United States. But since 9/11, it has become even harder for people to migrate legally. These are people who aren’t able to wait for years to find out if they are one of the paltry few allowed legal entry into the USA. These are people who would die waiting. People of privilege get into our country first; people with light skin and an education”

    The truth of the matter is ….. that in Mexico you need MONEY to grease a shitload of palms….

    That’s the fact. It’s called corruption. Don’t skirt the truth.

  • Root of the Divide

    Mexicans don’t come here for a safe haven or to experience equality. Their goal is to return women’s rights back to Mexican women’s “rights”.

    The biggest conflict & the origin of American dislike of the Mexican culture comes from how Mexicans disvalue women. Mexicans don’t even know what rape is.

    American women have had to adapt. We have rape prevention tactics to deal with Americanized men and then an opposing set of tactics to deal with Mexicans.

    For example, a woman is supposed to look a threatening Americanized man in the eye to show she is not passive to prevent an attack.
    However, looking a Mexican in they eye is considered a sexual advance. So, rape prevention is now a gamble.
    *Even if you don’t want to learn how to speak Spanish, if you are an American woman you HAVE to learn how to speak Mexican when it comes to body language.
    I have no problem with immigrants but this can’t continue to be the best democracy in the world if we force American women to adapt to a backward Mexican culture. It’s the equality America allows women that creates the thriving economy more than any immigrant labor force working below minimum wage.

  • TA Dodger

    Their goal is to return women’s rights back to Mexican women’s “rights”.

    Yeah… because the pro-life, anti-contraception, anti-woman movement isn’t primarily composed of white men.

  • Culture Clash Denied

    Evangelicals and Catholics don’t make up the majority of white men in America. Mexico is primarily a pro-life, anti-birth control, anti-abstinence society.

    “Rapto”, a Mexican practice where a man kidnaps a woman not for ransom, but to satisfy his sexual desire or to marry-her-by-force has been called “romantic” and harmless by the Oaxacan state legislature, which argued to reduce the penalty for this crime to a minor infraction. It’s ironic that this kidnap-for-sex practice occurs just south of the United States yet the Taliban and Arabs are seen as so backward.

    Personally I’d love to see the Mexicans invade Iran.

  • gonzo marx

    ummm…the problem here is just the kind of plantation owner Romanticism that the original Poster is spewing where it concerns there workers…

    2 simple facts…

    most are here illegally…meaning they broke US law…i don’t care how many there are, both the illegal alien and those that hired them knowing have broken Federal Law and should be prosecuted…we ARE a nation formed and governed by the Rule of Law, yes?

    second…the Idea that if we did not have these indentured servants to do this back breaking work, it woudl not get done is pure bullshit….it is just cheaper for the plantation owners, excuse me, farmers, to hire illegal immigrants than it is to gather their crops legally , either by hiring legal workers at normal wages….or to design/purchase machinery to do the work instead

    and please don’t try and say such machinery cannot be made…when was the last time someone picked corn by hand? or any other number of crops?

    yes, there ARE some crops that DO require hand picking…and these woudl be made more expensive by using legal workers….

    is that not free market capitalism, the Law of Supply and Demand?

    far too much do we see the business owners scream and whine and want it both ways….sorry to tell them, but they must adhere to the Law

    nuff said?


  • Joey

    Darn it Gonzo, that’s one of the few comments you have ever made, that I agree with… are you up to something?

  • gonzo marx

    nah Joey…just doing my thing, thinking out loud to a keyboard…

    glad ya liked this Thought, and the part that’s gonna really scare ya is that i use the same Logic with the rest of my screeds

    ya freaked out yet?


  • candye kane

    Gonzo, you are right. Many mexicans come here illegally. Have you ever broken the law? ran a red light? downloaded music without paying for it? exceeded the speed limit? smoked some killer bud? jaywalked? drove after drinking alcohol? walked your dog on the “no dogs allowed” beach? These are all laws also and I submit you don’t deserve to be labeled a felon unless someone dies as a result of your lawbreaking.

    There are many laws on our books that are outdated and should be revamped. Sodomy laws for one, although rarely enforced, are archaic laws that should be omitted from the books.

    We don’t need another law to clog up our legal system by labeling desperate people “felons.” There is a better way to address this problem and labeling these people felons is not the solution.

    Our economy is in trouble. Gas is almost $3 a gallon here in California. Chinese workers can create products for American consumption quicker and cheaper than ever before. Americans cannot afford to pay $10 for a basket of strawberries so that American field workers (if there is still such a thing) can be paid $10.00 an hour with benefits and union rights. Most Americans wouldn’t work for this wage anyway in the hot sun all day. Would YOU take a job like that? We need cheap labor. They need the income. Labeling them felons is not the answer.

  • gonzo marx

    candye..i NEVER said to label the illegals as felons

    my point is to enforce the Law….by fining the employers who hire the illegals

    as to my own law breaking…oh yes i have..and i take personal Responsibility for each and every infraction

    so should they

    i do NOT begrudge someone the desire to come here and BE an american citizen….but do it legally

    as for the false postulate about cheap labor, that is the talk of the plantation owner…my Answer….by a cotton gin

    nuff said?


  • Nancy

    I say to label them felons, and the reason why is #1, they are here ILLEGALLY. They violated our sovereign laws, our borders, and our immigration policies. #2, In order to stay here, they have knowingly & deliberately bought or employed false documents, including Social Security numbers, a data so vital it forms the basis for everything pertaining to an individual in this country, from birth to death and everything in between, literally. #3, a great many of these forged or false documents are stolen IDs. The consequences of this both for the individuals who are the rightful owners as well as the US government/economy at large, are enormous. So yes; in every point these illegals are indeed felons: thieves, procurers and receivers of stolen properties & identities, and the source of demand for an entire underground, illegal economy parasitizing off the legitimate one. Adding insult to injury, they drain resources paid for by US citizens & legal immigrants to assist themselves and other legal residents, by being
    ‘entitled’ to schooling for their kids, medical care by hospitals & clinics, food from food banks, etc. etc. etc. They are stealing these things from those who are entitled to them, because they themselves are NOT. Consider this: how many US citizens, kids, spend hours of useless time in school each day, not getting the education they’re entitled to, because teaching resources have to concentrate instead on trying to work with illegals who can’t speak English. Millions of dollars are wasted on these scum for just such reasons. And they do NOT pay taxes, except for the token of sales taxes, which is minor. That’s why Mexico & other nations encourage their trash to come: these losers are the bottom of the barrel in their own countries, which don’t want them, so they foist them off on us. And these maggots have the consummate gall to be DEMANDING – not even requesting – their ‘rights’ because they’re already here?! I’d give ’em their ‘rights’ all right: right between the eyes, every single one, if they didn’t hasten back where they came from post haste.

    As for that trite crap on the statue of liberty, that was maudlin garbage by that fool Emma Lazarus, who really should have been shot for Bad Poetry & mawkish sentiment, and it was certainly never intended as national policy.

  • derica


    stop trying to convert the sane to your rip-off-the-illegals scheme. “we need cheap labor,” you say, but at a price that is below what a person should be ethically paid for back breaking work. it’d be different if we were paying a group in mexico to pick strawberries for $2/day, but here where illegals have to pay higher housing costs and grocery costs like normal americans $2/day ain’t gonna cut it!
    this ‘our economy doesn’t work without slaves’ crap is what caused the f’n civil war! and instead of working your ass off like a mexican to afford to pay your health insurance you’re gonna get all whiney for a sale on strawberries.
    maybe your f’n health insurance would be cheaper if all the illegals receiving free health care weren’t driving the premiums up! and you know why they need that free health care, because $2 don’t pay for band-aids!!!

  • candye kane

    Again, everyone seems to be hung up on the illegality of it and no one seems to notice what the possible fall out will be from such a law. People will continue to illegally migrate, regardless. It is illegal now and they still do it by the thousands. Whether you think it is a “slave labor” mentality or not, is not the point. In San Diego, they come here by the droves and $2 an hour is better than what they make at home (although most make far more than that.) They live in fields or bushes and they send money home to starving families. Why does this offend YOU? They are starving. Until people start having some compassion for the have-nots, we will continue to see the middle class disappear. God forbid if some of you couldnt feed your children or clothe or house them properly. You would do anything to save them and that is the point.

    HEALTH INSURANCE? dont make me laugh! I cant afford health insurance now! If you think illegal immigration is making your health insurance premiums rise, wait until doctors cant treat them anymore because its a crime. All kinds of infectious diseases will spread through their children to yours. Then your insurance will really go up as you struggle to pay for all the unnecessary illnesses you are exposed to.

    BTW, with response to Nancy, my identity was stolen and it wasnt mexicans. It was a black woman from Detroit who ran up credit cards in my name. Identity theft is usually done by people who are computer and internet savvy. Not people working in fields who can barely speak english.

    The death penalty doesnt stop murder. The war on drugs has not stopped drug sbuse. The three strikes law has not stopped robbery. Labeling immigrants felons will not stop immigration.

  • gonzo marx

    the Question here, candye is….

    are we a Nation that follows the Rule of Law….or not?

    you seem to think the answer is not

    myself, i am all for LEGAL immigration, according to our Laws…but see no need to reward criminal behvior, no matter how desperate the criminal is

    also….many of those worekers you cite, are in far better conditions than you espouse…and many in far worse

    is this not Mexico’s problem first and foremost?


  • derica

    There are far more deserving immigrants than mexicans. Mexico is not Sudan, nor Bosnia, nor China. Other foreign immigrants have life or death reasons to enter the U.S.

    This new Save the Mexicans policy will discriminate against women fleeing genital mutilations and men seeking religious tolerance, etc. With so many Mexicans, these other immigrants have to wait longer or are turned away.

    I guess some Americans can relate to screwing the system. Cheating in schools is how someone like Candye can’t understand the basic concept of health insurance. The more people who don’t pay for emergency procedures, the higher the premiums are for those who are qualified by their income to pay (even though they can’t). It’s basics.

    I don’t care if the Mexicans owned California and America was located in Louisiana, the Mexicans would migrate there. They flooded New Orleans for jobs after Katrina because they saw that locals were required to leave by FEMA & stole local’s jobs. You should read the articles about how angry locals were, when the Mexicans stole their jobs. Their PR campaign couldn’t be worse and it’s their own damn fault!

  • Victor

    VIVA MEXICO!!!!!!!!