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 www.lahsc.org:
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.