El Guapo in DC

I am El Guapo. The most Guapo man in all of DC. Mucho Amor

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Protecting que?

Like almost every noche de mi vida, I was waiting for the bus with several of my bus-waiting colleagues. When you wait for the bus, you see the same faces on your stop and become friends with those in the mood to talk.

One of my amigos is a fifty-something year old man from El Salvador named Antonio. Antonio is the type of person who puts out his hand for a handshake several seconds before you reach him and gives you a genuine smile when you appear. Good people. Buena gente.

Today Antonio wasn’t too smiley and I asked him what was wrong. Que pasa mi amigo?

“Today is my son’s 7th birthday.”

I patted him on the back and congratulated him. Aren’t you a bit too old to have such a young child? I received a polite smile and a polite response.

“Ha, you know how it is.”

Under normal circumstances I would have joked about him having leftover cake at home, but I was all too familiar with the expression on his face. How long has it been?

“Cinco anos.”

Five years. This was a man who came to the United States when his youngest was 2 years old. His son knows his father only from pictures and his weekly telephone calls. Five years. Joder…

He went on to tell me that he would love to go back, but the dinero he was sending home was too good right now. All of his kids were in private school and getting good grades. Going back home is easy, but returning to DC, well, returning was another story.

It took him almost two months and two years of savings to have a “coyote” bring him across the border. He walked, bussed, hid, ran, starved, climbed and scraped to come to the US. He came to work. He came so that his family could have a better life…even if it was without him.

That’s why I don’t understand American politicians sometimes. He, like 95% of the Latino immigrants, is minding his business so that he can send money home. I promise you that if he could earn the same money, he would be back in El Salvador with his family.

Some idiota politicians go around the United States talking about “Protecting American Jobs”. I don’t think Antonio is taking a job away from anyone. Last time I checked, there wasn’t a shortage of restaurant dishwashing positions.

It seems they forget that the US was founded by people who wanted a better life. They had a dream. Those dreams now come from a people to the south, but it is the same dream.

Tonight, I drink to you mi amigo. To you and all my hermanos and hermanas who sacrificed everything so that their family could have more.

Mucho Amor,

El Guapo


At 6:48 AM, Blogger Rhinestone Cowgirl said...

Word, my friend. I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, and in the mid-90s, there was a Latino population explosion due to the poultry industry. I remember hearing people complain about "them mexicans taking all our jobs" and my reaction was - um, hello, I don't think there's ANY LACK of chicken-plucking positions. Besides, none of y'all wanted those jobs, anyway. Grr.

Happy birthday to Antonio's son.

At 7:19 AM, Blogger Christopher Robin said...

It's really a stupid situation and I've never been able to understand it. As it's been said, the shitty lobs are the ones being taken by illegal immigrants. Hell, I'm a legal alien (from Canada) doing a cushy postdoc job and in reality I probably did take a position from an American, yet they are more than happy to have me here. Ah the insanity of the American double standard.

At 7:52 AM, Blogger Prom said...

Politicos are imaginationless idiots. If we legalized all the illegal workers via a workers visa, they would pay social security and get us out of our dilemna with that one at the same time. We complain because we have too many old people to support because there aren't enough young workers to pay into the pyramid scheme and we ignore this wonderful resource we already have in the country. If we let these men bring their families here the money wouldn't go out of the country either. Stupid visionless politicians more worried about "conservative family values" then how to fix problems.

At 9:39 AM, Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

You are such a kind person. Thank you.

At 9:48 AM, Blogger always write said...

Well said, amigo. There's no shortage of the menial work immigrants take on out of necessity, and keep doing for fear that they'll lose what little they have. It's basically indentured servitude. Remind those Americans complaining from behind their mahogany desks that they can get rid of illegals easily -- by getting up off their fat asses and washing their own goddamned dishes. To which they'll respond, "Well when you put it that way... Welcome to America, amigos!" If politicians did their jobs and made quality education available to everyone, then they'd really have something to worry about. Fortunately for their overprivileged children, that won't happen any time soon.

At 10:11 AM, Blogger Washington Cube said...

I see these men every day at twilight, covered in dirt and paint from their jobs, jumping out of group vans and trucks at traffic lights, looking bone weary, and your heart breaks. You know they are living jammed in together in apartments and sending home the bulk of their paychecks to make their family's lives better.

Your writing is amazing. I would hate to lose it on the blog, but you really need a bigger reading audience. Your words go right to the bone. Keep it coming, El G.

At 10:46 AM, Blogger la guera loca said...

Since 90% of the people I know are like Antonio, I'm with you on this for the most part El Guapo...but where do you draw the line? Do we open borders and let anyone come who wants to? Do we continue to encourage Mexico to run a corrupt government so that their citizens HAVE to come here to make money? I don't want my mexicans to get kicked out, hell I'd marry 'em all if I could. I also believe we have to have some order and some respect for law.

By the way, if Antonio is Salvadoreno, he should have applied for refugee status. He'd be legal today if he had. He should keep a look-out, the last registration period ended in March 2005, but they'll probably open it up again.

At 10:56 AM, Blogger El Guapo in DC said...

Don't forget that many of the illegal workers have obtained jobs that take out taxes for social security etc. They never receive the benefits of this, but the American public does. People like Tom Tancredo have a hard time understanding this. Tancredo, hmmmm, wonder where his familia came from.

Mucho Amor,

El Guapo

At 11:10 AM, Blogger denise said...

I read with deep sadness the rally yesterday in DC being run by the Minutemen. They have been trying to infect my hometown, Houston, with their particular brand of insanity and thankfully they are mostly ignored here.

Immigration is broken in the US and it is people like your friend who suffer for it. I am beyond sorry, I truly am. I cannot even imagine his pain or loneliness.

At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Mamasita said...

I agree with you. A lot people ask why they don't they get visas leaglly. What people don't understand is the corruption that takes place in our countries. The people who approve visas (many times) give them to people who have bribed them or give them to people who have lots of assets-not to the needy or general population. That is why many of these illegals would rather take thier chances with a coyote, than with the crooks over at the embassies. My sympathy to Antonio.

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part of the problem to which you allude is a deep-rooted sense of American entitlement and territorialism.

But most importantly, this attitude is entrenched in blind nationalism which fosters, on a more complex level, a complete ignorance of Latin American economic oppression at the hands of the US government, corporations and elite investors, all in an attempt to preserve and sustain American interest.

What the majority of bitch-and- moaners fail to realize is the systemic politics behind keeping Latin American nations as under-developed, as poor and as undemocratic (in a true sense of the term) as possible.

If you were to really research American foreign policy interventions in Latin America over the course of the past 100 years or so, you would find that the U.S. has forcibly interfered (coups, military dictatorships and violent regimes) and succeeded in overthrowing nearly every single pure, naturally-arising democratic form of government in the region.

The US also has a well-established history of providing substantial amounts of aid to Latin American governments that torture and oppress citizens.

All of that said, it becomes increasingly difficult to blame any Latin American for seeking better economic opportunity in the US, of all places, as ironic as that may be.

But I also can't really blame the average lower/lower-middle class American worker for accusing illegal immigrants of "stealing jobs." They're simply venting frustration with their own lives and their own respective, difficult economic hardships by parroting what they hear from politicians and pundits, who are simply keeping up the charade.

Easy target.

In reality, immigrant workers benefit the US on many levels.

I don't really know where I'm going with this...Lars Schoultz provides some great analysis on this issue, though.

At 12:57 PM, Blogger fledermaus said...

Sad situation. The stereotype is that it's so simple to wade across a river, steal a job and live the good life, but the reality is a lot more complicated. A friend of my wife's finally got her 13 year old daughter to come after years of living with her grandmother. I can't imagine the trip alone at that age.

The current situation stinks all the way around, except for coyotes and abusive employers. Families are torn apart for sheer economic survival...how about some "conservative family values" on this issue?

Another great post, el Guapissimo!

At 1:00 PM, Blogger El Guapo in DC said...

The other day I overheard someone complaining about citizenship tests in other languages and how that was ridiculous.

In mi mind, and correct me if you disagree, I gladly welcome anyone who wants to go as far as taking a test to become an American. I don't care what language it's in. If you want to vote and make this place mejor, take it in whatever language is necessary. Give me your tired, your poor...

At 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody wants a dishwashing or chicken-plucking job because they're minimum wage (or less, under the table). Supply and demand. Stop the flow of illegal aliens and the demand for dishwashers and chicken-pluckers will go up, as will the wages. Then people won't be so reluctant to work those jobs. I feel bad for the ones like your friend who leave their countries and families behind, but that doesn't change the fact that they got here illegally, and don't belong.

At 3:52 PM, Blogger la guera loca said...

To the last anonymous...

What do you have to say, then to those folks who AREN'T working minimum wage jobs? I don't know any dishwashers or chicken pluckers. I know guys who are pulling in $15 to $20 an hour working construction jobs. Americans don't want those jobs because they don't want to work 12 hour days, in the rain, starting at 6 am, when it's 35 degrees outside.

It used to be considered honorable to work with your hands. Now, Americans see it as a low-class profession. The real problem is not that latinos are taking jobs that no one else will work, it's that companies are shipping tech jobs overseas.

At 4:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Americans don't want jobs making $15 to $20 an hour???

At 4:18 PM, Anonymous sqdc said...

A correction, El Guapo. These politicians are not 'idiotas'. They are liars. They know they're scapegoating. They also know that scapegoating gets votes. They're quite smart.

At 4:42 PM, Blogger la guera loca said...

They don't want THESE jobs making $15 to $20 an hour. They don't want to do hard labor. They want to sit in front of a computer from 9 to 5 in a climatized building and take 45 minute lunch breaks.

They don't want to lay brick in the 100 degree heat.

The guys I know work 6 days a week, rain or shine. They don't call in sick. They get a cut or a scrape and fix it up with lime and salt.

Yes, Americans want jobs that pay $15 an hour. They just don't want to actually do any work.

At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

Nobody wants a dishwashing or chicken-plucking job because they're minimum wage (or less, under the table). Supply and demand. Stop the flow of illegal aliens and the demand for dishwashers and chicken-pluckers will go up, as will the wages.

This is complete nonsense.

First of all, minimum wage has nothing to do with this. This is about working so-called "undesirable" jobs.

And are you fucking kidding me? Minimum wage will go up as soon as illegal immigrants leave the country?

Is this Penn and Teller magic or something?

Perhaps you need a history lesson.

Large corporations will ALWAYS find a way to cut corners and pay workers as little as they can to pad their profits, here and abroad. They always have and they always will. It's the nature of capitalism.

Supply and demand? Please, my friend. As long as the poor and hapless are in desperate need of jobs and incomes, companies will suck them as dry as they can. A homeless, jobless guy isn't exactly doing salary-comparisons between various jobs.

Jobs will not magically appear, nor will they pay any more, if illegal (or legal, for that matter) immigrants are prevented from entering the country.

Anonymous said:

Then people won't be so reluctant to work those jobs.

More nonsense.

As I stated previously, it's not necessarily about the pay. It's about working what are considered to be demeaning jobs, a fact you continue to ignore.

At 6:00 PM, Blogger El Guapo in DC said...

I personally enjoy when people try to make points yet post anonymously. You don't have to have a blogger account to leave your name.

You mention that "they don't belong". Interesante. Muy interesante. I wonder what Native Americans would say to this.

Mucho Amor,

El Guapo

At 6:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never said anything about immigrants leaving the country, or minimum wage going up - where did you read that?

The magic isn't Penn & Teller, it's Supply & Demand...perhaps you need a lesson in economics. Huge supply of people willing to work "demeaning" jobs equals low pay for those jobs. Reduce that supply and the wages will goes up, then the job doesn't seem so demeaning. Tada!

And to you crazy white girl, of course Americans don't want to do hard labor. Who does? That's where economics comes in.

Is there really any question that illegal aliens are reducing the supply of jobs available to Americans?

At 6:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering when the Native Americans would pop in - you're right, we should all go back where we came from - Africa.

Regarding anonymous posters, I suppose Mr. and Mrs. Guapo really named you "El"?

At 6:42 PM, Blogger El Guapo in DC said...

Well, you can e-mail me anytime. With an anonymous posting, I can't e-mail you or send you the Valentines Day card I was preparing.

I really wanted to send you a Valentines Day card. Queria mucho!

Make up a name. It allows me to know who is who. No harm either way, but we have two anonymous posters (I think) having a conversation.


At 7:11 PM, Anonymous anonymous2 said...

Oh please, post your Valentine for me here, for everyone to enjoy.

It just occured to me that the real problem is not illegal aliens, it's the people who hire them.

At 8:09 PM, Anonymous Jeannette said...

Anonymous guy's assessment of the US labor market is severely lacking. He seems to have this idealistic, superficial understanding of "supply and demand" as it translates to labor, wages and job availability.

The concept of "supply and demand" does not translate to jobs and wages in the same way that it is generally understood with regard to goods, prices and production. This concept is not the panacea for the labor market, as Anonymous dude seems to believe.

Even if there were scores of Americans standing in line to dig ditches, mow lawns and clean houses (which there are, assuredly, NOT) the absence of immigrants would NOT necessarily drive up wages or free up jobs.

When US companies can't get cheap enough labor in the states, they just take the labor overseas. And even in the unlikely event that an absence of immigrant workers boosted wages, the price of manufactured goods would likely increase to compensate and/or quality of the goods would be reduced.

There are many mitigating factors that influence wage rates within a capitalist market..too many to get into here.

The real problem here is state-sponsored corporate greed and corruption. The US government has been pillaging Latin American citizens and their natural resources for decades under their own noses. It should surprise no one that the same would occur at home, within our own borders.

At 8:20 PM, Anonymous A southern belle said...

I had never heard of 'coyotes' until I worked with Hispanic children in the Shenandoah Valley last summer. When one of the mother's told me her story of rape, extortion, dehydration, and dead relatives left in the desert, I cried the cynicism out of myself. Anyone willing to take those risks must be terribly desperate and courageous. How dare we not give them the chance our (my) ancestors had?

At 8:37 PM, Anonymous anonymous2 said...

jeanette, you talk about service jobs and then suddenly switch to manufacturing - they can't farm out the Jack-in-the-Box drive thru to India, can they? Maybe the order taking, but not the cooking, at least not yet anyway.

I know I must seem like some smug asshole who thinks he has all the answers; I'm not. I know how stupid I am, and I'm aware that I can't possibly understand leaving my wife and kids, risking my life (and money) to cross an imaginary line on some map, and thinking that was my best option. I also know we're all immigrants - I see a bumper sticker that says "Native Californian" and I think, Oh yeah, what tribe? But I just can't accept that hiring illegal aliens is OK.

At 9:01 PM, Blogger Martha Who? said...


At 9:10 PM, Anonymous jeannette said...

Anonymous 2...

Can you please point out to me where I said or implied that "hiring illegal immigrants is ok"? I would really be interested to know where I said this.

My only point is that this issue is not quite as detrimental to American workers are you asserted previously. It's merely a smokescreen for a much larger issue. Futhermore, American workers are not (and have not been for some time) lining up to work at McDonalds as you seem to believe.

I used the circumstances surrounding manufacturing jobs as one example of the "mitigating factors" to which I referred in that post. Perhaps I should have clarified?

Speaking of switching, I believe that you are the one who redirected your criticism to employers, as opposed to illegal immigrants themselves.

At 9:13 PM, Blogger Velvet said...

I might be a gringa, but this topic hits home very personally.

First, I managed a restaurant and our entire kitchen staff was illegal immigrants from Mexico. The difficulty they endure to get to this country is admirable. Frannkly, there are enough asshole Americans here would I would gladly trade for "illegals."

Second, what a joke that the citizenship test has American History questions on it. HA! Most Americans couldn't even pass this bogus test.

Third, if you really believe that these people are taking jobs from Americans, look around you. Thanks to our fabulous social programs, most "Americans" would rather ride the welfare system than work. And frankly, if you feel that an illegal immigrant took a job from your clutches, then get your ass back to school and take advantage of everything America has to offer in the way of education.

Finally, most important to me - I'm a 2nd generation Greek with grandparents who all gained entry to this country illegally. If they didn't get here, I wouldn't be here. I'm sick when I think of the treatment they endured. And most of you non-Mayflower riding mofo's can stop kidding yourselves. You probably have illegal ancestors too.

El Guapo - you are a gem.

At 1:19 PM, Anonymous MappyB said...

This is a great discussion, too bad people are anon. and don't want to be responsible for their statements.

I can't imagine the US without immigrants, and that's a good thing. Think of what would happen to our ecomony if everyone who was illegal here just left. And I don't believe min. wage would drop. I agree with you El Guapo 100%. That's sad Anon. won't get his Valentines too. :)

It was a great post though, and very sad.

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Kayla said...

Pfft... I thought I had such good comments, then I started reading all of the other comments. BAH! We often forget the principles this country was founded on...

I thought this post was fab... and timely with the whole minutemen bullsh*t. Sometimes, I am not so proud to be an american.

At 2:06 PM, Anonymous sqdc said...

velvet, what in the hell "fabulous social programs" might you be referring to? "Most 'Americans' would rather ride the welfare system than work"??

Please, back that statement up. If you actually look at the data regarding social welfare programs, you'll find your bigoted assumptions to be based on myth, and not on fact.

At 5:52 PM, Anonymous anonymous2 said...

Velvet, I too managed a restaurant - a Mexican restaurant. I've hired my share of mojados.
("Hey Juan, your SS card doesn't check out - go get a better one" Same guy comes back later - OK Enrique, you're hired!)
Now I see the error in my ways. You seem to think we should just forget about borders. Legal, illegal, who cares?

At 6:34 AM, Anonymous Dom said...

Hey I'm from the UK and whilst I can see both sides of the argument, I'm only reallya ble to sepak from the perspective of Britain's immigration troubles.

Britain is the biggest destination for illegal immigrants in Europe and there are increasing numbers coming over every year. Whilst I feel that in the same situation I would probably try to emigrate for purely financial reasons it's a really negative step.

Every country needs labourers and blue collar workers to maintain the nation's infrastructure. By allowing those jobs to be provided by foreign nationals for low wages, not only is the signal sent out that those jobs are only good enough for the desparate but also wages are reduced to a level where only those individuals will take them. Foreign nationals who arrive to perform those occupations will feel above the 'degrading' work within one generation, leading to an ever increasing population of individuals unwilling to perform the tasks required to sustain the country. It is short termism to the extreme.

If countries develop naturally then due to the differentiation of living standards around the world, multi-nationals will start farming their work out to other countries allowing them to provide a decent economic infrastructure for workers.

Anyway America, Britain et al are all declining economies if people want to emigrate to earn decent money, move to China that's where the money is.


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