These past weeks, I’ve had to deal with a couple of large dying acacias in my backyard that were threatening to tumble onto my neighbor’s roof on the downhill side. Not good.
I called my regular gardening service and they wanted $1900 to pull out the two trees. Again not good. I tried another service. They wanted $1700. Ditto. Then I crossed my fingers and tried the phone number from one of those smudgy business cards that pop up in your mailbox. A guy came over, Hispanic, in his fifties. I had no idea whether he was illegal or not and certainly didn’t ask. His English was pretty good. Good enough to quote me five hundred dollars, which I accepted. A crew showed up a few days later and did the job just fine in four hours. Some of them spoke English, some only Spanish. I doubt they were citizens, but again I didn’t ask. They were nice guys and I was happy. I had saved myself 1200 bucks.
So I’m a hypocrite if I support the Arizona legislation, so I won’t formally, although I sympathize with it. We’re all in a puddle of goo when it comes to immigration, especially all of us here in the Southwest. And we’re all poseurs. This doctor I appeared with on a panel the other night – a paleo-liberal – kept referring to illegal aliens as “undocumented Americans.” I hadn’t heard that one before. He had already awarded them with citizenship. Would he have called illegal aliens from China or Thailand that as well, or was he referring in his mind only to folks from South of the Border? Who knows? But he sure sounded like a smug fake. I wondered how many illegal aliens he employed over the years – or that day.
It’s hard not to sympathize with the unfortunate people you run into when employing illegals. For the most part they have been very friendly to me over the years, patient with my sometimes wobbling Spanish, and grateful for any money I gave them. I don’t go out of my way to employ them, but I don’t avoid it either. In fact, I don’t think I could avoid it, even if I wanted to. I’d have to give up eating in restaurants and stop taking my clothes to the cleaners.
So I acknowledge that I am part of the problem. But this doesn’t stop me from despising hustlers like Al Sharpton and his tedious enabler Geraldo Rivera (does anybody still watch him? well, I guess I did) when they exploit this situation for such obvious personal gain you wish they’d spend even five minutes as illegal aliens themselves.
What is to be done? Damned if I know. But I have to admit that sometimes I am afraid. I love Mexico and have been there who knows how many times (50? 60? 80?). I went all the time, slipping over the border to Ensenada for the weekend or flying down to Oaxaca for a serious cultural/culinary vacation. That is I used to. Now I’d rather go to Iraq. Mexico seems more dangerous, especially around the border. It’s a war zone ruled by murderous drug lords. Recently the carnage has become extraordinary. Having that border wide open seems, well, crazy. You feel terrible for the Mexican people and you fear from your own life if you visit a border town.
Mexico never has fared very well at fixing itself. (“So far from God, so close to… etc.”). Its leaders of the right and left are worse than Chicago. Maybe a fence would help them face reality. And make things a bit fairer up here.
But then people like me might have to pay more to have our dead trees removed. So it goes.