6.14.2007

What We Owe Illegal Immigrants

What We Owe Illegal Immigrants (by Barbara Ehrenreich, The Nation - 6.12.07)

Rush Limbaugh has been expecting liberals to start "whining" about the $5,000 fine undocumented immigrants will have to pay to gain citizenship under the new immigration bill. But most liberals have been too busy chortling about the immigration-induced split in the GOP to make their own case against the bill. So let a mighty whine rise over the land: Undocumented workers shouldn't be fined; they should get a hefty bonus!

When our debt to America's undocumented workers is eventually tallied, I'm confident that it will be well in excess of the $5,000 fine the immigration bill proposes.
All right, they committed a "crime" — the international equivalent of breaking and entry. But breaking and entry is usually a prelude to a much worse crime, like robbery or rape. What have the immigrants been doing once they get into the U.S.? Taking up time on the elliptical trainers in our health clubs? Getting ahead of us on the wait-lists for elite private nursery schools?

In case you don't know what immigrants do in this country, the Latinos have a word for it — trabajo. They've been mowing the lawns, cleaning the offices, hammering the nails and picking the tomatoes, not to mention all that dish-washing, diaper-changing, meat-packing and poultry-plucking.

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