I first wrote these thoughts three or four years ago when immigration, especially illegal immigration wasn’t on the minds of Americans like it is today. There is no doubt, that we need to fix our immigration system. We need to make it easier for good folks to be able to make it into this country more quickly and easily and we do now. However, if all of us worked with the same tenacity and diligence that I see most immigrants to the United States do, our economy would even be stronger. This is my own observation from having worked in the trenches, finding people jobs since 1973.
For the most part, and there are exceptions, immigrants work harder, longer and more diligently that most of the working folks in this country. They have an attitude that “I have to work harder, longer and more enduring, because I have overcome prejudice, language issues and cultural issues.” Diligent and hard work is one way to get ahead in America. And we are all blessed with the same opportunity.
You will rarely hear an immigrant, needing a job, say that they are going to pass up an interview because they can make more money on unemployment (which we hear often from lots of born here Americans). I remember my grandfather talking about what it was like as an immigrant in 1900. I’m sure the stories got better over the years, but it was clear that he and his peers worked harder than most everybody else and his work ethic has been passed down.
I realized that there’s a big difference between the immigrants of today and the ones of my grandfather’s generation. His generation and their families went out of their way to become more “American.” They changed their names to be more “American,” encouraged their children to speak only English instead of their mother tongue (oh, I wish my father had taught us to speak Arabic, but he grew up encouraged to only speak English). They wanted to be American. They all came here legally and did whatever they had to do to be “legal.”
It is probably true that many immigrants today do not want to blend into the American culture as much as previous generations did. And there are some, even though they live here, who have contempt for the American ways. Some, especially the ones that are here illegally, are taking advantage of our schools, healthcare and government systems. I’m not saying that’s right. But these problems are not caused by the vast majority of immigrants. Even the ones that are here illegally want to respect the laws and provide for their family. They do what they have to do. I understand.
But if Raul wants to mow my yard and do a better job at a better price than Billie…let him. If Hector wants to takes care of my building as though he owned it…let him. Eric (Chinese) is the hardest working network systems guy I have ever met. He has been doing our systems work for 28 years, at a very reasonable rate…and he is available 24/7. If Patel is willing to go to school, graduate with an IT degree ( stuff most Americans just don’t want to do) and wants to write code In the wee hours of the morning…let him. Ali, the Pakistani cab driver in New York didn’t smell good and neither did his cab. I won’t use him again. But Nasser, the Egyptian Uber driver in San Francisco, had an impeccably clean smelling, wonderful Prius. He was great company as well as a good driver. We had just been to a Muslim wedding and he was helpful explaining it. I’ve got his card and number if I need it. He shared that he loved his job because he could work as much as he needed or wanted to. He had a very high rating.
Just look at all of the companies that have been started by immigrants. The people who complain about Immigrants should give thanks that they are here. I will grant you that our immigration policies are a mess. So, okay, fix ’em. We should let as many immigrants in this country who want to come. The free market will determine how well they do. Don’t let them or anyone else freeload with entitlements or take advantage of the system. But if they want to try to outwork me or anybody else….let them. Bring it on! I’ll just have to work a little harder. It’s good for me.
To show you how screwed up things are, the love of Hector’s life was in Mexico. It took the better part of a year to get Savina here legally so that Hector could marry her. Chrissy and I went to the wedding and it was wonderful. I don’t appreciate people coming to this country illegally and taking advantage of all of our rights. But, then again, it took Hector almost a year to get Savina here the legal way. That’s crazy. You can’t blame people for simply crossing the border. We may not like the idea, but you can certainly understand why people do it. It’s almost too hard to do legally.
If even half of us worked as hard as Hector does to keep our building running and looking as good as it does, our country would be better off. He has the mentality of an immigrant. God bless him! …wish more folks did.