Diary roadmap: Begins with an unpleasant awakening, which reveals an invisible underclass, references an old forgotten (but critical) war or two, continues on with a capitalist rumination on marriage versus prostitution, & ends with clues to the whereabouts of 11 million disappeared souls last seen consigning their fate to a foreign power.I'm enjoying a dream wherein Run-D.M.C. is decked out in purple on a bright yellow stage & doing some version of Cielito LIndo that just doesn't fit. I'm dancing the Quebradita smoother than I ever have in real life. I'm someplace in Latin America, but all the signs are in Chinese-and I can read them. Damn dream makes no sense, but I'm loving it.
¡Maldita sea! I'm awaken by the sounds of hydraulics & heavy chains being dropped right outside my bedroom window. It is almost as though the links were pulling right up the middle of my bed. It is 5:15 a.m. & still pitch dark outside. Various police related scenarios race through my mind. Is some SWAT team armored vehicle about to knock over someone's residence? Is INS doing a pre-dwan raid my neighbors? Will terrified shouts of ¡La Migra! ring out as men, women, & children scramble for back doors? ¿Y Ahora Que?
Like I did last week when I was awoken by gunshots, I keep the lights off & peer outside from the very corner of the curtain. The sounds I hear are very very loud & very unnerving. My eyes become adjusted enough to determine forms. Pretty soon I make out that it's just a tow truck come to haul someone's vehicle away. The driver is alone. No one from my triplex or the one across from it comes out. So, it's a repo job. Yes, of course it is.
Yesterday afternoon a car had pulled up & stopped in the middle of the driveway in front of Sergio's place. A very tiny & thin woman had apprarently gotten out prior, but I only first saw her as she was sitting in the driver's seat while learning around the open car door. She was conversing with some number of the six occupants of the triplex through the iron-screen door. Six young guys made muscular from years of field & construction work. They seemed afraid to come out & face her. It struck me as odd at the time, & almost comical. When she pulled out of the driveway I noticed a white piece of paper attached to their screen door. I had assumed it was an eviction, but I assumed wrong.
Around here, don't ask for whom the repo-man tows, he tows for thee. Today, it does not tow for me. I feel no elation that I'm not the target. My heart sinks. I know too well that if my car is towed I have the money to pay the fines & storage fees. I have the documentation to both prove who I am & my legal claim to my vehicle. I have no fear of the authorities, either governmental or business. For me, it would be a minor (albeit irritating) inconvenience.
Not so for my neighbor. His truck is permanently gone now. It has disappeared from the 'hood. Tomorrow it may be the former truck's owner who is disappeared. In a sense, he's already disappeared from the moment he entered the U.S. without documentation. Leaving his name behind him. Leaving his citizenship in a democracy behind him. Leaving a known world for an unknown one.
How can we document-holding citizens empathize with them? Why should we? We're taught they are statistics that somehow harm us. Millions of numbers to argue about and use, if at all, in debating points with the opposition. Hard to know someone if you haven't broken pan with them. I have. I diaried a bit about it last year in reference to what was happening in Arizona & how that related to mi hijo.
Let me tell you about another real-life undocumented & his truck.
The first time I moved back from Mexico many years ago, my life was temporarily at loose ends. I spent my first 6 months here sleeping on a living room floor in a sleeping bag next to an undocumented named Chelis. The primary occupants of the house were a nuclear "undocumented" family of 2 spouses & 3 kids. Despite having 2 people sleeping every night on the living room floor, the house was always kept meticuously showcase clean. Chelis didn't drink, smoke, or even pursue romance. He was soft-spoken with a wry sense of humor that consistently lagged 30 seconds behind everyone else's in the room-yet was always the sharpest. He went to church dutifully (not enthusiatically) each week, but would only go to fiestas when dragged by the hair. He had little interest in socializing outside of work or "home." He wanted to work as much as possible, as hard as possible, for all the sooner to return to his pueblo. He worked at Walker's Pie Shop (oh, the wicked goodness of the delicious place & their demon pies) in Albany (CA) 5 days a week, & 1 day a week he spent doing odd construction jobs.
He lived like that, sleeping on the living room floor & with nothing but the memory of past & nearly fabled romances in Mexico, for 4 years. Living for the moment he could return home. Then he worked 3 years full-time doing construction for a man he had worked several odd jobs for prior. Without noticeable vices, he saved his money (what was left over after sending to his parents) & bought a truck. He planned on taking it back with him to Mexico, & there to either sell it (much more valuable in Mexico) or use it on his own future ranchito. It was his grub stake for a new life.
Then he fell in love.
Then he married.
His dream had changed. He sold the truck, & put a down payment on a house. He is still undocumented, but now he's committed to the U.S. He's burned his bridges on the field of love.
It is never easy to begin a new life for anybody anywhere. Having to live "hidden" from authorities has all sorts of hidden costs.
Being an undocumented man in this country is difficult, yet imagine what it is to be an undocumented woman....-----------------------------------
My son's madre & two aunts.
Any grown women in the country knows that, despite hard-fought for federal regulations & impressive societal gains in the last few decades, sexism in the workplace is still endemic. Where it doesn't occur it is the exception, & not the rule. The less resources one can mashal to resist it the less likely is success.
Now imagine yourself working as a domestic in someone's house. Imagine the husband comes home early. Or, the boss orders you to the his office. Imagine something unpleasant happening. Do you go to the police? Do you risk deportation & separation from your family? Do you trust that the police or the abuser won't contact the INS? How could you trust? Where would the basis for that trust come from...from a system that doesn't recognize your worth as a human? From a system that sees you more akin to a plague-or at least a "problem?"
The men & women who come here to work undocumented are as varied as your own friends. Optimists, cynics, religious fanatics, athiests, agnostics, & yes, scholarly types. I've known them. People with college degrees from Mexico who can quote Cervantes & dream of Frida Kahlo while washing dishes & alongside friends from the same town who didn't finish high school. Go to a car wash, & one of the women drying the car may've been a 3rd grade teacher last year in Jalisco or Oaxaca, until she fell in love with a man who was driven to seek work in El Norte. You may find she once taught niños y niñas about Ghandi & MLK, but now she teaches when to counter-rub.
Of course, it is difficult to conceptualize what it is to be undocumented here. It is hard to really "see" undocumenteds apart from absurd & harmful stereotypes broadcast from the MSM in threatening soundbytes. That's the system here. Undocumented means invisible except for when it means malignant.
How many have crossed the border between visibly documented & an state where they've disappeared from view into an undocumented existence?
|No one knows exactly how many undocumented workers are here in the U.S. 11-12 million seems to be as good as a guess as any other. Those from Mexico are estimated to be about 59% of the total. Adding in Central & South America to that 59% results in an approximate total of 76% of the estimated 11-12 million being from Latin America. Lots of estimations there. Few hard facts. Spanish, though, remains the second most used language here in the U.S.|
How it got this way-the rationale. The facile response is to say it is their fault for coming. That answer does not take into account the often incestuous relationship between Mexico & the United States that began in earnest with the war of aggression in 1845. Of necessity we don't have a border, we have a funnel.
Most U.S. citizens aren't aware that the southern Slave-owning class that initiated the Civil War of 1861 were the same slavers that championed the invasion & conquest of Northern Mexico-and that they did so over the heated objections of Lincoln, Thoreau & Twain.
After the Civil War, the U.S. slavers long dreamed of annexation of Mexico entero was replaced by U.S. capitalists with another path.
Los sin papeles aqui están quemados.
|In the 1960's movie QUEMADO (BURN), William Walker (the original gangster of filibusteros), is fictionally portrayed with great appropriate license by Marlon Brando. While his character explains the rationality behind supporting independence & an end to slavery, he yet provides reality-based clues as to why undocumented workers are both a permanent fixture of our landscape & a benefit to capital.|
(Scene beginning at the .40 mark of the QUEMADO clip.)
Gentlemen, let me ask you a question. Now, my metaphor may seem a trifle impertinent, but I think it's very much to the point. Which do you prefer - or should I say, which do you find more convenient - a wife, or one of these mulatto girls? No, no, please don't misunderstand: I am talking strictly in terms of economics. What is the cost of the product? What is the product yield? The product, in this case, being love - uh, purely physical love, since sentiments obviously play no part in economics.----------
Quite. Now, a wife must be provided with a home, with food, with dresses, with medical attention, etc, etc. You're obliged to keep her a whole lifetime even when she's grown old and perhaps a trifle unproductive. And then, of course, if you have the bad luck to survive her, you have to pay for the funeral!
It's true, isn't it? Gentlemen, I know it's amusing, but those are the facts, aren't they? Now with a prostitute, on the other hand, it's quite a different matter, isn't it? You see, there's no need to lodge her or feed her, certainly no need to dress her or to bury her, thank God. She's yours only when you need her, you pay her only for that service, and you pay her by the hour! Which, gentlemen, is more important - and more convenient: a slave or a paid worker?---------------
Ahora Kossackistas, which is considered more important - and more convenient - from the POV of both our government & our business class: a citizen (with claims to protection, services & representation) or an undocumented worker (who after sub-minimal wage is desposable & deportable)?
Taxation without representation
Stephen C. Goss, the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration and someone who enjoys bipartisan support for his straightforwardness, said that by 2007, the Social Security trust fund had received a net benefit of somewhere between $120 billion and $240 billion from unauthorized immigrants.Think about the above reality that is well-known, though seldom expressed, in both the halls of congress & amongst the business community the next time you hear rants from nativists claiming that undocumented workers are robbing the country.
|Unlike in my parody to the left, the topic of undocumented workers isn't "officially" banned on Dailykos. It has cropped up at times in diaries or posts. In a recent diary Markos wrote on the rascism underlying the current nativism movement.
This crowd feels they are "losing their country" because brown people are moving in next door. They don't care whether those individuals are here legally or otherwise, they just care that those people don't have white skin.The racism employs the fact of undocumentation as a shield to hide behind.
As for these nativist anti-immigration groups, theirs is a deeply rascist, deeply xenophobic outlook. But after pretending for years that their efforts were about the "rule of law," it's refreshing that their true colors are finally showing through. It was only a matter of time..
Sangre de Indio is no longer the perjorative term it once was in Mexico. The way younger Mexicans are self-identifying has been changing rapidly. The old caste system the Spanish imposed of self-hatred is finally being socially destroyed by youths who are proud of their Native American ancestory.
What if someone told you that plurality of those 11+ million "undocumented" workers were Native Americans (but not of the U.S.)? What if 11+ million Native Americans were facing summary deportation?
Pues, that is what they are beginning to say. Porque esa india yo soy
Most undocumented workers are not tribal & don't speak an Amerindian language. Still, Mexicans are 65% Native American by DNA. That 65% doesn't necessarily apply to "Mexican-Americans" who have been here several generations or more (& whose ancestors may or may not be primarily of Spanish descent). The 65% does especially apply to undocumenteds here from Mexico.
To be undocumented in the U.S. is to live in the shadow of a government that views you as a non-person, as a semi-invisible tresspasser, a fleeting ghost on the economic & social landscape, someone to exploit for labor, someone to collect taxes from, & someone to whom neither services nor representation is owed. A deportation waiting to happen. The modern continuation of the exploitation of indigenous Americans & enslaved Africans that our economy was originally anchored upon.
So where have those 11+ million people disappeared to? They've disappeared here into a land where too many view them through the prism of rascism, where they are often scapegoated for the ills of the society they prop up with their labor, where they are harvested for taxation without representation, & a land that is increasingly dependent upon them while claiming to reject them publicly.