By Jose Servin
Whenever Orange County Immigrant Youth United encounters anti-immigrant Know Nothings, they usually all have the same reasons for wanting to toss us back over the fence. We're stealing jobs, taking health services, burdening the state by draining taxes, and illegally voting. I wish! Then I wouldn’t have to feel guilt every time I take advantage of DACA at the expense of all the parents and disqualified people thrown under the bus so that those of us who "deserved" the program could reap its limited benefits.
But Know Nothings know nothing for a reason. The gripe they most commonly dish out against us is that we're stealing jobs. What jobs? Are they talking about the farm labor jobs in the Central Valley where, despite employers efforts to offer increased wages and benefits to citizens, they can’t get anyone to replace their aging and dwindling undocumented workforce—one that makes up nine out of ten of all agricultural workers in California? If Trumpbros get their way and kick out all the "illegals," who’s going to subsidize the agricultural industry that Americans depend on to provide cheap milk and produce? National Milk Producers Federation board chair person Randy Mooney put it simply; "Dairy farmers have tried desperately to get American workers to do these jobs with little success—and that's despite an average wage that is well above the U.S. minimum wage."
On to our next Know Nothing pendejada. Now, why would undocumented immigrants be doing the back-breaking jobs that no one is willing to take if they can supposedly come in and just steal any desirable job? The answer is simple; because we can’t. An expanded E-Verify program, lack of social security numbers, and other limitations prevent undocumented folks from even applying to most jobs. In the same way that pre-Civil War era citizenship was reserved for white males and not for enslaved blacks and women, the idea of undeserving "illegal immigrants" is meant to create a cheap labor force. Aviva Chomsky (Noam Chomsky’s daughter), in her book They Take Our Jobs, writes, "Immigrants…have also been deprived of rights—yet their low-paid labor provides the cheap products that our economy depends on." And it's as simple as that.
We also can’t vote. You might recall our Pendejo-in-Chief’s baseless claim that between 3 to 5 million illegally voted in the election, causing him to lose the popular vote. Despite the White House boasting that they have damning evidence, they haven't released anything. Set aside the fact that’s it’s extremely easy to get caught if you illegally register to vote, I don’t know any people who care so much about casting their vote that they’d risk eight years in prison, like Texas green card holder Rosa Ortega. Not even immigrant justice organizations, whose aim it is to provide help and relief to immigrant communities, can organize a fraction of those numbers.
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How about those social services? Fox News and the likes love to boast to their audiences that immigrants are a drain on the country, lazily relying on welfare and food stamps. Know Nothings, are we stealing your jobs or your food stamps? Which is it? While we can’t obtain services directly, undocumented people can receive certain benefits, like WIC (Woman, Infant, and Children Services) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assist Program (SNAP), or food stamps, for their citizen children born here, and administer them as their legal guardians. Undocumented women also receive medical care during pregnancy, and undocumented students can attend public school for free, as well as receive some aid for college and university.
As much as Republicans, internet trolls, and vendidos like a certain Tattoo from Fantasy Island lookalike on SanTana city council would love to have Americans believe that legal citizens are footing the bill for all this, it’s not the case. In states like California, Texas, Arizona and New York undocumented immigrants make up about 10 percent of the workforce, and comprise a larger percentage as workers of unskilled jobs. As a result of this, a report by the Institution on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) found that in California, we contribute about $3 billion in taxes a year. I admit, I didn't major in math, but that seems like a pretty big number.
At the end of the day, though, we’re not just low-skilled tax payers willing to process dairy, pick fruits and break our backs. We’re also not all valedictorians and social justice warriors. We’re people. And speaking for most of the undocumented Mexicans I know, we're people that don’t like or trust the government. That’s why we left our country in the first place! A report by a San Diego State University professor backs up that claim; we don’t care enough to try and vote illegally because whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican in the White House, when things go south, they always blame the immigrants. We aren't stealing your jobs because many of us are busy doing the ones you don’t want to do.
And while we can’t deny that we do take advantage of school and social services if we need them, we only do it because if we didn’t, you Know Nothings would call us lazy good-for-nothings anyway.