Those familiar with the Hamilton Mixtape may be familiar with this phrase. It comes from one of my favorite songs on the album, “Immigrants, We Get The Job Done”. So in light of the recent events here in Memphis, I felt it appropriate to focus this week’s post on immigration.
For those who are unaware there have been several ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids in the local Latinx communities in Memphis. It was reported that ICE went into apartment complexes targeting those 16 years and older who came here illegally as children. The last number I saw was that over 36 individuals were taken into custody- but of course they aren’t releasing the exact number they have detained. Think about how many families this is affecting, how many children.
I have so many problems with how Americans treat the name “immigrant”, and even more with how we treat them in our country. This was a country founded and built by immigrants. And yet we want to claim that these “immigrants” are taking our jobs- what jobs? Do you mean the jobs us Americans refuse to do or take? Americans are so selfish and lazy, we are scared to get our hands dirty to do the hardworking and manual labor jobs – that many immigrants end up doing.
Let’s look in Georgia for example. My mother lives in Lyons, GA- a small rural southern town, very close to Vidalia. You may recognize that city name- Vidalia where the Vidalia sweet onions are grown. I remember back in April I was visiting and this bus drives by and my mom made a comment about how people call that the “Mexican Bus”. I was taken aback- the Mexican bus? What does that even mean? Apparently it is called that because the workers on the Vidalia onion farms are for the most part “Mexican” and they all take this bus to the farms and back home. So that really got me thinking: of course I immediately started thinking- well of course they are going to hire “Mexicans”- the bigger man always wants the cheapest labor. So of course I started researching it and all I could find was that farm workers have sued the farms in the past over wages- so my hope is that they are actually receiving fair pay now. But while doing this research Vidalia came up a lot- all the way back to 1998 – when immigration laws started cracking down. They, like many other farms were of course worried about losing their workers. So many of these farms (not just Vidalia), have tried to hire local workers- but it wasn’t enough. They were not getting the labor they needed in order to keep their farms running. So they started hiring immigrants through the guest worker visa program. This allows immigrants to come over and work for some time- legally.
When I was reading all these articles I was astounded- really people are complaining about immigrants? You mean the people that are making your enjoyment of onion rings possible? These are immigrants are contributing to the United States economy, they are paying taxes and guess what ladies and gentleman: THEY ARE NOT INCREASING THE CRIME RATE. At least not significantly to prove that all immigrants are the reason for our crime in this country. I live in Memphis- a city not known to be the safest or most peaceful. The majority of crime I hear reported here are the result of some sort of domestic dispute, but get this guys- these crimes are happening between AMERICANS. That’s right ladies and gentleman: Black, White, Yellow, Pink, Bleeding Red white and blue Americans.
People come to America looking to reach their goals, live a better life, provide for their family, escape from tyranny, etc. Instead they are greeted with hostility, racism, harassment and sometimes violence. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. But this isn’t new. Look back 100 years ago when the Irish first came. There were signs posted “Irish No Need Apply”. My dad’s grandparents migrated here from Ireland during that time, they faced those prejudices. This is why I am so disappointed in Americans right now. This isn’t new, immigration is not new. And it shouldn’t be a problem.
Let’s visit the issue on refugees now. Refugees. These are families with no place to go and no where to call home- because the home they have is war-ridden. Their homes are controlled by organizations ruled by violence. And we can’t offer them sanctuary? We are just going to close our borders because they come from countries where they might be terrorists? Let me be frank here, we are being prejudiced against them based on the fact a majority are coming from Islamic countries. I was a religious studies major in school, I must’ve missed that lesson on how “Muslims are terrorists”. But wait, I forgot this is a country that is supposed to have religious freedom- I guess that only applies to certain people and certain religions.
I’m saddened by the ignorance of the people I see in my Newsfeed, sitting next to me at church or even at Starbucks. We should be standing up for our neighbors, we should be greeting people at the borders, encouraging everyone to make their dreams come true. Isn’t that what we tell our children? Don’t we encourage them to dream big and succeed?
When was success only limited to those with an American Passport?
Check out the song and video.
To those who are immigrants and working hard here – thank you. I appreciate you. I stand with you.