It being the first of the month, normally I’e2’80’99d say you could send in questions for me to answer. However, in solidarity with my immigrant brothers and sisters who are out on the streets today protesting the government’e2’80’99s latest delusion, this descendant of immigrants suggests that we do without her labors today, and begin May’e2’80’99s Ask Laurie tomorrow.

Instead, go rent the film ‘e2’80’9cA Day Without a Mexican’e2’80’9d and dream about the November elections.

Posted in


  1. Anonymous on May 1, 2006 at 3:55 pm

    I, too, am a descendant of immigrants … legal immigrants who took the trouble to learn English, to learn and live by America’s laws, in order that they could become a part of an integrated free, democratic country.

    I have mixed feelings for the illegal immigrants in this country. Compassion … yes! I don’t want to see immigrants imprisoned. But neither do I want to see them rewarded for breaking the law, for coming into this country illegally in such huge numbers that we are having to become a bilingual nation. Yes, we, as a nation benefit from their illegality. If we grant citizenship to these millions of illegals, they will no longer have jobs, because the industry that supports them now wants cheap labor, not market-standard labor. Since most of them have not made the effort to learn our language, they will have difficulty finding other employment, and will become a huge burden on our welfare and prison systems.

    I don’t feel that I have the “right” answer, the “perfect” solution. I have many immigrant friends, and a son-in-law, that came into this country legally, and had to struggle to meet the requirements of citizenship. Some are still in the process. I reject the idea that we create “special rules” for a continuing migration of illegals coming over our borders, who show by doing so, that they don’t plan to respect our laws.

  2. Anonymous on May 1, 2006 at 5:04 pm

    Thanks, Laurie, for your solidarity. My mother’s parents came from Sweden in 1904, and on my father’s side, there are a variety of immigrants starting with his grandfather (England in 1860s); his paternal grandmother (descended from illegal immigrants who came on the Mayflower); his maternal grandparents (Poland and Ireland). There weren’t any emigration laws for those, except for my mother’s parents. I think this crisis is manufactured. The stats show near full employment last month (4-point something; why that is near full-employment is unclear to me, but that’s what they call it.)

  3. 2maple on May 1, 2006 at 7:33 pm

    I come from a family of old immigrants and married into a family of recent immigrants (my husband’e2’80’99s 2nd generation)’e2’80’a6I have no issues with immigrants nor with having pride in your heritage. But, the recent ones are all here legally…post WWII “surplus” women to borrow a phrase I learned from you (how can I say if the ones who came 150-200 years ago were legal or not or even what was legal then?)

    I also have to agree with the first anonymous about the ‘e2’80’9clegal’e2’80’9d piece. Part of this mess is our fault for having a border that leaks like a sieve and allowing this situation to have developed for the sake of cheap labor. The border has to be closed. Those companies have to be dealt with. Why should they get a competitive advantage for shirking their responsibilities? A rationale means also must be found to deal with farm labor.

    I also agree that there is a huge problem with people that have been here for a long time. Of course I don’e2’80’99t want these people jailed. That’e2’80’99s pure foolishness. However, there needs to be a way that they can become tax-paying citizens and support the services that they use, be it education, medical, or social. I was on our school committee for twelve years and the cost of education was staggering, nearly breaking our community a few years back, and would have been catastrophic if we had many students whose parents were not contributing their fair share, even if their share was small. I don’t know how some of the border towns manage it without huge sacrifices in quality.

    They also need to want to be American. Personally, I was offended by all the Mexican flag waving and would be far more sympathetic to their cause if they had shown a desire to be American (and in no way does that mean denying your heritage). Maybe I’m missing something but that’s the “message” I got from seeing the pictures.

  4. WDI on May 1, 2006 at 9:03 pm

    Thanks, Laurie. I guess many of my immigrant forebearers were lucky in that they came from English-speaking countries. I don’t know how long it took my Czech great-grandparents to learn English, but I strongly suspect it was no more quickly than today’s immigrants manage. I must admit that, as a lover of languages (and especially Spanish), I have no problem with joining much of the rest of the developed world as a bilingual nation 🙂

    The bottom line for me at present is that I know very well the extent to which I benefit from immigrant labor, legal or otherwise. Those are the folks who keep our agricultural, industrial, and menial labor sectors flourishing, doing jobs “real Americans” don’t much seem to want, and working fiendishly hard at them. And as far as I know, many (if not most) of them do pay taxes. It seems hypocritical of me to want to benefit from their work yet deny them some kind of legal status.

    The movie I liked was “El Norte”, myself.

  5. Anonymous on May 2, 2006 at 12:10 am

    It seems to me that all of us are immigrants in one way or another, whether our ancestors came here recently, two hundred years ago, four hundred years ago or twelve thousand years ago, before there were legal requirements enacted by this government or since. All of that to me is beside the point.

    I realize that most of the people who are here, legally or illegally, came to escape poverty or repression in their home countries, or to try to achieve the “American Dream”. That is also beside the point.

    I am angered by the attitude of these people that they have a “right” to be granted citizenship just because they want it after they have chosen to break the laws of this country. I know that I am a citizen only by
    an accident of birth but I have tried to contribute to this society and have abided by it’s laws even when I disagreed with them. I feel any “rights” the illegal immigrants think they have to be granted citizenship have been cancelled by their illegal status.

  6. wildoakvirginia on May 2, 2006 at 12:50 am

    Legal or illegal, that is the question. Living in the wine country of Northern CA, I depend on the labors of others everytime I take a sip of a lovely CA wine. Illegal or legal, matters very little to me I’m afraid. It the culture war that I’m most concerned about. I’m in the real estate industry and it is unbelievable how many people move because of the culture wars. Many who have lived in these parts for years are used to a smaller families, with fewer cars, with less noise than that of our more recent arrivals. And, after living years in what one may call a quiet area, the change in culture is stark and shocking. What I hear the most is “they are a really nice family, but the cars! the parties on the weekends, and the NOISE!” In the past, ethnic groups lived together in an area (ours was the Irish area of the Richmond District of SF)and then as soon as money and the blending of culture came to the immigrant families, movement to other areas of the City happened. The fear now seems to be that people do not want CA to be Mexico North. Go to any ATM and you will be asked to pick your language of choice. Sometimes when using a service industry or food industry worker I often can not understand what that worker is saying. I keep people on staff that speak Spanish so I can conduct business.
    Other concern? I’m not to keen on having a culture that shares a religion that is not feminist, that sees women as child bearers and homemakers and little else. That has a religion that glorifies women for having many, many children. And that tells these people that family planning is a sin. Sorry, that’s a rant.

  7. Tish on May 2, 2006 at 2:27 am

    Interesting to me is the lack of dark-skinned folks posting. I am of the lineage of those who were here when the rest of you arrived. Brown, native, without the benefit or curse of the written laws about which you argue. Yet, based on your arguments, you should all get out–no matter how long you have been here, or how long your family has been here. My people were here first, in the plains, and if we at that time had the “benefit” of your laws? You would have to leave. Except for the author, who shows the proper humility of her station and might be deserving of a place in this country.
    Proudly of Choctaw lineage

  8. Anonymous on May 2, 2006 at 3:18 am

    I’m mixed breed, a little bit Germanic decent, a little bit Scottish and a little bit Native American. (that last part of me says “Yea, Tish” here) I’m proud of my immirgrant heritage and my native heritage. I treasure the melting pot of nation I was born into and I’m proud to be genetic example of stewing around in a melting for 8 or 9 generations.

    I’m also proud of Laurie, in her stand of solidarity, and proud of the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people who stood together in solidarity today. Individually, and standing in groups, we CAN change our nation. For the better.


  9. Peter W on May 2, 2006 at 9:16 am

    Just wanted to say THANK YOU for writing Locked Rooms. I absolutely love your Mary Russell novels! They bring me great joy.

  10. Bronwyn on May 3, 2006 at 8:15 pm

    I’m torn on this. I don’t want to see anyone sent home who has been here for years, but this system must change. I am thinking more for the immigrants than natives; when you pay cash for everything as they are forced to, you are SO easily taken advantage of. A friend of mine paid cash for his rent for 6 mos, only to find out the secretary had pocketed the money and then split. This is not advantageous to anyone but crooks! Better to pay a few taxes and receive protection from situations like this. Not to mention access to health care and public schools/libraries.
    (P.S. Tish – I am AI as well, and my father’s family finds this whole thing sort of humorous.)

  11. Peter W on May 4, 2006 at 9:39 am

    How can anyone scream MINE when talking about the land beyond one’s garden gate? For most of us it is pure chance that we live where we do, yet if we look at our family tree we will find people who came from elsewhere. Do we really want the borders of nations to keep us apart? I know cultural differences can cause problems and there is nothing more challenging than accepting that others are different. I am not such an idealist that I believe in a world where we will all invite our neighbours into our garden and will become the best of friends, but the other extreme is denying others the freedom and the riches that Fate has given us.

  12. Carole on May 4, 2006 at 10:09 pm

    Are you all aware that the immigration quota for Mexicans is 5000 annually. That’s barely a drop in the bucket compared to those who want to come here.

Leave a Comment