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Monday, May 01, 2006
May Day 2006:
It was a beautiful sunny day today, so a colleague and I decided to enjoy some sunshine and a respite during a slow time at the office. While on the way to the square, I noticed that one of the local Mexican joints was unoccupied for the day, right in the middle of lunch. Then it occurred to me – today is May Day, and there are supposed to be some protests around the country. We have a thriving Hispanic community here in the middle of East Texas, so I thought I would be on the lookout for large lines of people with American or Mexican flags.
When we got to the square, it looked like a routine day. Cars bustling to and fro, people grabbing a quiet bite, families enjoying the day together. After about 30 minutes, the congregating began. First one family, then two. Since my time was getting short, we left to return to the office, but there were probably 30 or so people there when we left. As we traversed the square, we spotted a mass of people down the way. They were being led by a couple of individuals carrying a large American flag. I would guess the line had several hundred folks in it. They were making their way toward us, and they were chanting something in solidarity, although I couldn’t quite make it out.
As I returned to the office, I wondered what effect this protest would have on the local economy. My first reaction – very little. I didn’t have much trouble finding an open eatery, gas station, or convenience mart on the way back to the workplace. In fact, the most popular local Mexican eatery, Don Juan’s, was packed to the gills, as usual.
But the protests did make me aware of several things. First of all, people are scared that their new livelihood in this great country is about to be diminished. They are frightened that their extended families are about to be forcibly split. They are all too aware that their exodus to America could soon become a felony offense. Secondly, I cannot say that I would feel any differently. Thirdly, I also believe that we are a nation of laws, and those laws need to be enforced.
I have a hard time blaming a family for seeking a better life elsewhere. I think my main issue, like most Americans, is that they have circumvented our laws and they expect to have the right to do so. As Americans, we recognize that we cannot pick and choose the laws we want to obey… that is, without paying the consequences.
But illegals for years have sped across our borders knowing full well that those consequences were never likely to be paid. For this, we can blame our benevolent government, who has looked the other way for far too long. Nothing more needs to be done to stem the tide of illegal immigration than to enforce current law. If illegals want to become legal, they should apply for citizenship like everyone else. Furthermore, they should exhibit a willingness to assimilate into our culture. But many have no desire to do that. The local news is full of reports of illegals who are here only to send money back home to their families. Many of them work off the books. This is the thing that angers most Americans, not the family who crossed the Rio Grande looking for a better life.
So today, when I drive home, I’ll probably see a few sign-wavers still around the town square. And when I do, I won’t honk in support. I’ll wave kindly, because that’s what I should do. I’ll continue to support them in their desire to seek a better life for themselves. But I will never support their decision to break our laws. To do that would be un-American.
UPDATE: Here is a sensible solution to the issues plaguing our southern border.
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