There was a story on the news recently that the Obama administration is freeing almost as many illegal immigrants as they are rounding up on our western boarders.
That image, which in itself is wrong and an example of the failings of this president, helped bring to mind a pet peeve of mine and a flashback to the time that, as a publisher, I felt the wrath of an immigration authority that was challenged.
First a little background.
The first book I remember reading was about the Yankee slugger Lou Gehrig, his parents were immigrants from Germany and even though they knew little English, they made their children learn the language of their new homeland.
Gehrig was never allowed to speak anything but English.
That has stuck with me over the years and because of that, it irritates the hell out of me to be at a public place and hear families from other countries that now live in this country speaking a language other than English. If you feel you need to call me prejudiced for that, then yes I am. I’m prejudiced of the fact that if you live here, you should become acclimated to the customs that are part of living here.
If you are going to work, live and have your children go to school in a country, at least you should always have your children speak the language of that country.
The fact that, in many cases, schools have to provide teachers to instruct in any language other than English is absurd.
In California, when a notice of election is printed in a local newspaper, it is printed in 20 different languages.
With that said, now let me tell you about the immigration issue in the early 90’s I was reminded of.
One of the papers I published papers in San Diego, the Chula Vista Star News, was located about 10 miles from the Mexican border, in an area where every day about 30,000 illegal immigrants poured over from Mexico into that area. A good deal worked in the vegetable fields in Carlsbad, and every Friday if you went to the border crossing you would see large air conditioned immigration busses dropping illegals off at the border, after they were rounded up and after they had worked in the fields all week.
This was called deportation.
On Monday, the illegals would sneak back across the border in time to resume their work only to be caught again on Fridays.
We had 110 employees at the Stars News, 80 of these were Hispanic folks, many who lived in Tijuana.
All were checked for legal papers and we had green cards on file.
One day I came back from lunch and there were three very well dressed men in my business office pouring through an employee file, I asked what they were doing they said they were looking for a 22-year-old young lady who had worked for us in the past and who was here illegally from Canada.
I asked if she had committed a crime, they told me no that she was here illegally and they had been chasing her for two years. I asked them why they were doing that when we had 30,000 illegal immigrants crossing the border everyday only 10 miles down the road. I wondered why in heaven’s name they would be wasting our precious tax money chasing this one little girl across the country because she was here illegally.
With a stone-cold expression I was told by the well-dressed man, immigration was going to look through every one of our employee files. I told them to feel welcome to do so.
The next week during a production day, parked in front of our office was a green immigration bus. As I pulled in the parking lot after lunch, coming out of the front door was a line of about 20 of my employees being loaded on the bus in chains.
We almost didn’t get our papers out that night because of this.
The irony was the next morning my former cameraman called said he was ready to come back to work. I told him I couldn’t let him do that, because he had used a fake green card. He said no problem I have a new one.
I never hired back my cameraman, but I did try for two years to get him into the country legally. I failed, and that will be another story on how impudent you can feel dealing with the federal government.
T. Pat Cavanaugh is the publisher of The News. You can reach him at 770-787-6397 or firstname.lastname@example.org