Monday, January 21, 2008

Immigration, Homelessness: Some American Woes

    A recent email discussion of illegal immigration issues tweaked my thinking bone. So did a woman in mismatched second or third-hand-me-downs, ending in a pair of oversized men's shoes on her feet.

    This discussion group is educated and multi-faceted with as many opinions and thoughts on the issue as there are probably illegal immigrants. The shabbily clothed woman was trying to open the massive glass and steel doors of a county office, but she struggled because one arm held what may have been her possessions and the other arm looked too thin to manage the door's weight. I assume that the word download in her world is putting down her oversized plastic bag either in a shelter or, God forbid, a person-sized box, abandoned car or underneath a bridge also known as her bedroom.

    So what do I think about illegal immigration? I think it is inevitable and unstoppable. In spite of the United States' economic woes, this country is the greener side of the fence. With classism and racism strong elements of the countries south of our border, poverty remains incurable. Yes, there is a middle class, but by my observations the haves and have-nots are clearly defined and unchangeable.
The have-nots will not get education, will not get advantage, will not rise above impoverishment, and will not stay in their country to watch their children wake up hungry. The haves will gladly accept the $23 BILLION in revenue sent to Mexico by illegal and legal immigrants in 2006 (Dallas Morning News, Jan. 31, 2007), while their neighbor, El Salvador welcomes the $2.5 BILLION in revenue by Salvadorians working in the United States, according to Rene Leon, Ambassador of El Salvador.

    In 2005, the US immigrant money sent to Mexico exceeded foreign direct investment in Mexico. And in El Salvador, the $2.5 billion was 13% of the Gross Domestic Product of El Salvador.

    Meanwhile back to this obviously Caucasian woman with white hair and funky clothes. What does she have in common with illegal immigrants? She was probably born here. She's probably half-way educated. Somehow her life unwound (Abuse? Mental disorder? Addictions?), and she has sunk lower on the social-economic totem pole than the illegal immigrant picking the strawberries I'll consume next week. She's just of one of an estimated 3.5 million people (1.35 million of which are children) that will experience homelessness in a given year.

Some more sad statistics from Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition

Children under the age of 18 account for 39% of the homeless population. 42% of these are under the age of 5.

43% of the homeless population are women; 40% of these women are unaccompanied. 22% of homeless women claim domestic abuse as reason for homelessness. 25% of these claim to have been abused within the past year.

Families with children comprise 33% of the homeless population.

Vets constitute 40% of the homeless population.

1 in every 5 homeless persons has a severe or persistent mental illness.

25% of the homeless nationwide are employed.

Clearly, it is time to take care of America and those who choose to become Americans. The circumstances are complex and almost inconceivable in scope. Earned pride and well-being come from within.

Yes there is a war against America. I'm not Pollyanna. Our military and police are irreplaceable. When America is good, it is very, very good. Balance, humility, insight and compassion must return to our daily consumption.



Pelzerjay said...

Char, your "Clearly, it is time to take care of America and those who choose to become Americans" needs a significant edit. It should say "choose to LEGALLY become Americans."

Pelzerjay said...

I know a lot of "haves." But I don't know any who "will gladly accept the $23 BILLION in revenue sent to Mexico by illegal and legal immigrants in 2006.." That is money taken OUT of our economy. I do know a few "haves" who would be willing to accept having the illegals pay their $17 BILLION per year cost to the American taxpayers and then send the remaining $6 BILLION home.

Now we have the Prresident and Congress scrambling to figure out how to pump $150 BILLION back into the economy. Maybe if the money hadn't been sent out of the economy (to Mexico and El Salvador) over the past few years, we wouldn't be in this situation.

You said you don't like to "pidgeon hole" liberals and conservatives. So, don't do it to the "haves." America is the most generous country in the entire history of the world. The money our government gives away is provided by taxes ... 90+% of which is provided by the "haves." And it is NOT the "non-haves" who provide the funding for non-governmental charities.

Giving away too much too fast is like a regular blood donor deciding to be extra generous and giving 4 pints all at once. Nice gesture. But the donor dies. No more annual blood giving. Some one needs to realize this as our $150 BILLION "transfusion" is being worked out.

"Right is right." "Left is left." It's all relative depending on which way one is facing at the time.

Charmaine Coimbra said...

The haves in this instance include Mexican banks, who do well by the money transfer. And, yes, this is removed from the US economy. The key word is poverty.

How many illegals are paid cash by US citizens, thereby, not paying taxes on those employees?

I can hardly pigeon-hole haves, since I am probably a have myself. However, when one spends time in our bordering (south) neighbors, the separation is clear. The not haves in our neighboring countries will likely never have becase the haves will not encourage that change.