September 10, 2014
By Grace Flores-Hughes
As a Hispanic born and raised in this country I’ve endured my share of prejudice from non Hispanic Whites. But that was during pre civil rights days in a particular area of our country that reeked of ugliness and intolerance. Yet, it’s interesting to read and hear in a number of media outlets almost daily about “those illegal aliens” that have recently arrived in this country.
In this instance, “those illegal aliens” being referenced are the recently arrived unaccompanied minors from South and Central America. Recent polling of Americans suggests that these minors aren’t exactly welcomed in this country. The outcries, especially of non Hispanic Whites are loud and clear from one part of the country to the other. The minors are accused of everything from soup to nuts, from carrying and spreading deadly diseases including leprosy to being gang members to waging war on America.
The latest complaint about the unaccompanied minors is the millions it’s going to cost to educate them. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) recently released a report which estimates that it’s going to cost taxpayers approximately $761 million to educate the more than 37,000 minors that arrived in this country since October of 2013. Certainly, this is a concern for all Americans. Our economy is weak; high unemployment is on the rise while government spending continues at an all time high. But the alternative to do nothing has far reaching consequences; the children will be illiterate, barely functioning in America’s competitive society and more importantly, idle minds are the devil’s workshop.
Lets educate the unaccompanied minors
For all intent and purposes the majority of these children are going to end up staying in this country permanently. Thus, it’s inevitable that they are going to end up in school in some form or another, so why not begin the process now before it’s late?
It’s troubling to hear so many negatives about people choosing our country in which to make a better life for themselves. A recent Harvard behavioral study revealed that White passengers in a Boston commuter rail system were more apt to become exclusionary toward Latinos when exposed to them. For example, a couple of Hispanic individuals were randomly inserted into the daily routines of mostly White passengers, interestingly both before and after the passengers were exposed to the Hispanics, there was a significant rise in their exclusionary attitudes, saying things such as: “We should send the children of undocumented immigrants back to Mexico.”
Only after seeing the Hispanics day in and day out, did attitudes somewhat change.
Hispanics must educate the general public
Unfortunately, when negatives occur toward immigrants from Central and South America, those negatives also tend to shift toward those of us Hispanics born and raised in this country. Our battle is never ending. We are stereotyped to the max as either being gang members, drug dealers, welfare recipients, maids and landscape workers, etc. etc. etc. Which begs the question, why do so many in this country have it in for us Latinos? It’s not as if immigrants from Spanish speaking countries are the only ones coming to this country, it’s not as if Hispanics are the only ones working as domestic workers or are on welfare? It’s not as if Hispanics are the only ones that join gangs and become criminals.
Yet, for some reason we are singled out more as a problem than a solution to the well being of this country. Interestingly, our native foods especially Mexican, is better appreciated. Anymore, we find that salsa outsells catsup that tortillas outsell bread and all that is good and dandy but where does that leave the human species?
Certainly, education is the name of the game. We Hispanics should work to educate the public about the significant contributions of our community by writing, by talking, and just as importantly by mainstreaming ourselves into the non Hispanic communities. Our work is a lot harder today than it was when I was growing up in the 1950’s and I am trying to figure out why that is the case?