Muchas Gracias, El Presidente Bush

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Last time I read LewRockwell, my cousin Esteban was busy peeling the label off of the can of menudo, which would then become his official "document" to get a driver’s license under California’s then-new law granting licenses to those of us who are, well, undocumented, and had any kind of document to show to the DMV.

But those stinking Republican racist dogs, pushed by a new gubernador with some long Anglo last name (Austian, English, whatever — if it ain’t Spanish, it’s Anglo!), overturned the law, and now here we both are in Santa Ana with nothin’ but bus passes.

Nevertheless, things are going pretty good. As you can read, I’m doing fine learning English, even though I’m not sure why I bother given that it’s getting harder and harder to find people around here who speak anything but Espaol.

But I’ve got a wallet full of cash, free health care at any emergency room thanks to the California sap taxpayer, and Maria’s kids get a free education, free school lunches, free immunizations, free whatever the heck they want. This is living, at least compared to life back in my village, but then George W. Bush, el presidente, goes and screws things up big time.

Under his new immigration plan, I need only prove that I have a minimum wage job before I can legally bring the whole family (and Maria’s whole family) up here from Veracruz. Some of these professional Latinos are celebrating the plan, while others are demanding even more concessions from America — maybe open borders so anyone can come up norte.

These rabble-rousers obviously are born and raised here, and have few relatives down south. First of stinking all, even though I’m illegal, I make a heck of a lot more money than minimum wage. I sell my services at an official city-run day-work center, where I earn $15 to $20 an hour doing gardening, moving or construction for whatever business or homeowner hires me on any given day. I pay no taxes, at least not on the income, don’t worry about workers compensation insurance and manage a fairly nice living, at least good enough to keep Maria and the kids from leaving.

What’s the chance the Immigration and Naturalization Service bean-counters will accept that as a steady job? I might have to go legit and get me some lousy low-paying job with taxes, withholding and what have you just so I can get documents.

Thanks a lot, Seor Bush!

Then — and here’s where it gets really stinking bad — Maria will insist that I invite to Santa Ana her madre and padre and cousins and sisters and nieces and nephews and everyone else in her old neighborhood. They’ll be moving up, into our already overcrowded place, mooching and complaining and driving me up the wall.

Muchas gracias.

Oh yeah, and let’s say my real Mexican wife, Sofia, reads about the plan and demands that she and the kids move up here too. It’s hard enough affording one family in this expensive country, let alone trying to feed, house and clothe two. I’m starting to feel sick, and it’s not from that crummy fish taco I ate earlier today.

I may be unskilled, but I’m no dummy. With each passing year, California starts resembling Mexico. Santa Ana, in conservative white Orange County, is America’s city with the largest number of Spanish-speaking people. It is indistinguishable from Tijuana, with its pushcart vendors, cowboy-hat wearing laborers, street people and low-rent auto shops.

The only thing missing are those losers who paint their donkeys to look like zebras, then charge stupid tourists for a picture standing next to these pathetic beasts.

That’s probably coming soon.

Man, I left Mexico to get away from this Third World crap, but it keeps following me wherever I go. When I first snuck over the border, California was heavily Republican. I know, they are a bunch of racists who want to deny my people their fair share. But now that we elect Mexican-surnamed Democrats everywhere I go (with the help of non-citizens like me, but that’s another story), they vote just like those fools down in Mexico. Soon enough, I’m going to have to move to Nevada just to afford the few taxes that an illegal, I mean undocumented, person like me has to pay.

And, of course, El Presidente Bush only cares about his buddies who run all the businesses. They live in Newport Beach and Santa Barbara, so they don’t care about what happens on the streets of Santa Ana, Anaheim, Rialto, Van Nuys and Rosemead.

I’m no master of economics, being just a low-skill laborer and not some big-shot libertarian at the Cato Institute. But if you let tens of thousands more low-skill laborers into California, this will drive my wages right down the hopper. I don’t read many of those Anglo newspapers, but I did read the piece in the Los Angeles Times magazine interviewing Latina maids in San Diego who have watched their wages and benefits fall over the past few years. They can’t compete with the new cheap illegal laborers. Imagine what will happen after Bush gets his way and the borders get flung open. Soon I’ll be flipping burgers at Carl’s Jr.

I can already feel my hands slipping off the bottom rung of the ladder.

I’d head up to Canada, but those frostbacks are tough at the border, and I still can’t master living in a place that feels like the Arctic tundra and doesn’t have palm trees. Maybe I’ll do the unthinkable and head back to my hometown in Mexico, organize the neighbors and try to lobby for better policies back there. But that’s a dead end street, no doubt. I’ll starve to death before any meaningful change filters its way to the corrupt halls of Mexico City.

Why bother trying to change things in Mexico, when everyone and his brother simply hitches a ride to San Ysidro when it’s time to get gainful employment?

Now I’m getting depressed again, thinking about all the new amigos and old relations who will soon be living with me. License or not, I might drive my old Datsun pickup truck eastward until I find a place where people still speak English. Then I can settle down, work hard and live a peaceful life, until the new legions of immigrants let across the border by Senor Bush come and destroy my way of life.

Steven Greenhut (send him mail) is a senior editorial writer and columnist for the Orange County Register.

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