Solving The Undocumented

Giving undocumented immigrants citizenship doesn’t make sense.

It doesn’t make sense to those of us who came the documented way. Sure, it was costly. Sure, it took time and appointments to the embassy. Sure, it even took some embarrassment when the doctor performing the physical took a peak inside my pants (without asking) after I was told I had to be in a cubicle with my brothers in my underwear–something I never did at home–waiting for him to come and inspect us. I only wondered what would happen to my mother who was in a separate cubicle with my baby brother but I digress.

Andre-Heading West

Photo: Lilibeth Andre-“Heading West”

People come to the U.S. for opportunity. The opportunity to work hard and get ahead. Back at home you can work hard, if you’re lucky to have a job, but it seems you never get ahead. You’re lucky if you maintain your economic ground but it seems that it slips like sand between your fingers more and more. And if you had your own business you probably went under when NAFTA brought all those American chain stores into town and they out-priced you, and you could never support your family on the wages they pay and the hours they require.

The opportunity for jobs is what brings people to America. If people are willing to risk coming as an undocumented migrant, suffering the perils of illegal entry, it is only because you have a high chance of finding a job. When the economy was slow and jobs were not so prevalent, illegal immigration went down. Why risk coming when there are no jobs?

So here’s the solution: Instead of pursuing the illegal migrant, put the burden on the people that hire the undocumented person who is willing to work long hours for low wages and no benefits, illegal employment practices. And if the employer insists that they must hire these undocumented workers (not just the brown ones from the south), then it would be their duty to make their workers legal migrants through work permits.

Work permits give workers the ability to move freely between borders. If fear of deportation or the ability to return is removed then more people will come with a temporary worker mindset. Instead of having to stay in a country they do not consider their own they would be able to go back home and be with their family more easily. This burden could perhaps balance the economics of hiring legal workers and paying them a decent wage and benefits because this loss of jobs for local workers reverberates up the work chain and everyone pays the price when specialized and certified workers are displaced by illegal immigrants who cost the employer less. The consumer pays the ultimate cost disguised under the veil of lower prices.

Citizenship is the ultimate reward for legal immigration. Each country is allowed a certain number of migrants into the U.S. People can be legal, over time they can become residents (with all the rights but to vote), and then they can become citizens, if they choose to do so, with the right to vote. By then, there is a greater understanding of what this country is all about and with assimilation in culture, language, and understanding, the right to participate in the political process is a reward.

Is Free Education the Ticket to Happiness?

When you were a kid, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? I sure didn’t. I was trying to be the best right then and there: the best student, the best class president, the best safety patrol. I was happy chasing rainbows and there were certainly lots to chase. This was the late 60’s in northern California. I had lots of choices and I explored a lot. I did have a tendency to look to art and medicine but I was involved with school politics, sports, and of course, the three R’s. I signed myself up for summer school and loved to choose English, Math, P.E. and Arts for my summer companions. Learning was fun and I enjoyed it.

My parents never boxed me into anything. I could have been whatever I wanted to be and it was up to me.

What if everyone had that opportunity? What if everyone could get a free education in what area called to them?

I started working early to have some spending money. It was good experience. I did sales and office work. I tried babysitting but that was not my cup of tea. I worked my way through school, then got a super job and dropped school but later went back with lots of experience under my belt. I was fortunate that school was affordable. I continue to accrue experience through work and continue to educate myself. Now I also get to give back to share, mentor, and teach.

If everyone had a free education at every point in their life, I think that we would see more happy people from primary to advanced level education. We would experience the joy of learning. I think that if I wanted to be a carpenter, I could go to trade school and become the best carpenter I could be because the school would allow me to apprentice with the best tradesmen who were waiting to pass on their hard and long-earned skills to someone who loved the craft not just someone who couldn’t get any other type of job.

I think that if later in my life I wanted to become an engineer or an industrial designer, a writer, or an inventor, I should be able to go and pursue that education and become the best in the field that I could be.

Dawn by the pond

Lilibeth André, Dawn by the Pond, oil, 16×20. Sold.

What if I was suddenly retired after building widgets all my life? I think I may want to explore photography and be the best or perhaps I may want to be a lab tech or a chef. I should be able to go to school and become the best I could be. Even if I just wanted to be a fisherman out on the lake. I would be a happy fisherman.

What if I was gifted and talented in science or technology? I should be able to get the best guidance counseling and optimize my learning to the best of my abilities throughout my lifetime so that I would be able to contribute to science and advance research and progress.

What ever I chose to do, I should be able to go back to school and hone my skills or acquire new ones through continuing education, if that is what I wanted to do.

Why? Because it would make me happy to pursue my calling, to gain the skills that would allow me to maximize my career when I wanted to do so. And in this pleasure for learning I would gladly give back through mentoring, teaching, or in practicing my skills and knowledge for the betterment of my community.

Free education would let me explore learning for fun and pleasure. It would open the door to giving back, self-fulfillment, and happiness.

Also read: the Future of Work-An Artist’s Perspective. Why we shouldn’t worry about robots and automation.

Memo: Invest Yourself Where It Matters

Lilibeth Andre, Garden Iris, photograph

Lilibeth Andre, Garden Iris, photograph

Are you at peace with life? Are all your ducks in a row? Have you got your bucket list checked off, and planted the trees, written the book, and had the kid?

Nothing shakes you down more than finding you left something undone. Here’s a memo so take note.

We hear about last minute regrets so we prepare and make sure we are ready to find peace, hopefully, in our lifetime and not just at checkout time. We prepare ourselves but wait. What if it is someone else who gets the ticket to ride before you thought they would, and all that prepping you did for yourself, is now tested when you realize you did not prepare to say an early goodbye to someone else. Someone you expected to be here long after you were gone.

Don’t get stuck lining up your ducks, working on your peace, building your accomplishments and collecting your laurel wreaths because stuff is not something we take with us. It is the time we said, “no, can’t do that because I’m busy. It doesn’t fit my schedule or calculated and carefully weighted plan.”

Find who really matters to you and invest yourself in a way that will leave your hands full of memories you can take with you too.

 

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    © Lilibeth André and Art by Lilibeth André, 2009-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this text, images or content without express and written permission Lilibeth André is strictly prohibited. For permission to license, exhibit or purchase any of the artwork, email info@lilibethandre.com. Links to this site may be made with full and clear accreditation to Lilibeth André and Art by Lilibeth André.