Monday, July 19, 2010

An immigrant's point of view

So those who know me well know I am a stubborn and as someone said recently fiery French woman. That is true. I came to this country 21 years ago this month and I am proud to say that this is now my home country.
Of course, being myself an "immigrant", I have some opinions on the whole SB 1070 issue here in Arizona. But before I say any more, I have to tell a story.
I took my children to a McDonald's the other day for breakfast. While there my girl and I went to wash our hands and as I got ready to leave the restrooms I noticed a small sign on the door. It was in Spanish and said "Vandalism is a crime. If you are caught, you will be prosecuted". So the meaning of the sign I didn't have a problem with. I did however look around for an English version of said sign and didn't see any. Now I do realize that most customers probably wouldn't know what this sign meant. After all, unless you are Spanish speaking, who would pay attention to it, right ?
Well it just so happens that my three years of high school Spanish are enough for me to still read a silly little sign. And I got very much offended by the fact that it was there all by itself, without an English version. Why ? because I thought about all that it implied - that only Hispanics should be told about vandalism being a crime, as if they were the only ones who could possibly commit such a crime.
So after I got my kids taken care of, I asked to see a manager and told her how offensive I thought this was to both her Hispanic employees and all of her customers who could understand this stupid little sign. And who would notice as I did that there was no English version of it.
She acted all surprised and told me there usually was an English version and she was going right in there to see what happened to it.
So next time I get to that part of the Valley of the Sun, I will go use that restroom and I will check it out again. If there is still only that little Spanish sign, I guess I will have to contact McDonald's and see how they would feel if people picketed their restaurant for promoting intolerance and racism. Because to me, singling out one race like that is offensive and I know all about people judging you because of your ethnicity or nationality and I do not like it one bit. To tell you the truth I think it sucks !
And the best reward I got that day for that small action of speaking my mind was the Thumbs Up I got from my 12 year-old daughter. I can only hope that she will grow up unafraid to let her voice be heard.
So back to SB 1070...I have a Green Card and I had to go through the whole torturous process of getting one and then getting it renewed and every time I have to deal with Immigration my blood pressure shoots through the roof. But this is what I have had to do to stay in this country I love and where I have established roots so it was and still is worth it.
I will never have a problem with a police officer asking me to show my papers. But then again my face doesn't scream "I'm an immigrant". A lot of my friends however could be pulled over just because they are a bit darker skinned that I am. And a lot of them are second or third generation Americans. That is what I would hate to see happen. They do not deserve to be treated that way.
On the other hand, am I for illegal immigration ? no way in heck. But if you know how hard it is to get a green card and how incredibly expensive it is, I can understand why so few try to get there.
And do I condone the fact that so many steal identities so they can work here ? Hell no. These people are criminals and need to go to jail, just like an American who commits the same crime should. Ruining someone's good name and credit is horrible and indeed a crime.
And here comes my biggest pet peeve about what I see every day in Arizona: people who ask for us to speak Spanish to them. So here is the disclaimer I need to put into this - this is my opinion and my opinion only, not that of any one I live with, work for or consider my friends.
I have to ask this: when I moved to the US, if I had walked in and asked (in French no less) if there was a French speaking person at the grocery store, I can imagine I would have been laughed at. Because that would probably have appeared obnoxious for me to expect that someone would cater to my needs when after all I was the one who had come into this country. I probably would get some kind of comments such as "why can't you learn English if you live here".
Instead I chose to perfect my English so I could live as an American (with French roots of course) and I chose to try as hard as possible to lose my accent so it would be easier for people to understand me. I know not every one can do this but I truly believe it is a sign of respect for me to speak in such a way that my adoptive countrymen and women can truly get what I am telling them. I will however ask forgiveness for the occasional slip up and mispronunciation. And I know my friends will laugh and can probably think of a few words I butcher on occasion LOL

So I do want immigration reforms and I do want for illegal immigration to stop. I think if we take away the jobs the illegals are getting by penalizing the employers, we will solve half the problem. Then the rest could possibly take care of itself eventually. But I also think we all need to understand that until all of us living in this country are willing to do some of the jobs that the immigrants are filling, we may never be able to control immigration. Because after all we will otherwise always need these people to come and take care of those jobs. I only wish there was a way it could be done legally...

Feel free to comment but I do ask that all be respectful of each other's opinion.