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April 12th, 2013 at 8:27 am

Immigrants, ‘we are a nation of laws” – A perspective shared from a descendant of the Cherokee

Raymond Alvarez: “We are a nation of laws.”

There was a time when another nation found itself confronted with unwanted visitors who ignored their laws. The people fought these squatters and went on to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Cherokee Nation initially lost its case, but won on subsequent appeal.

 

 

The Cherokee were prosperous. They owned large farmlands. They fully embraced the American culture. Many of them would be considered wealthy by the standards of the time.

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A U.S. President, who gained fame as an Indian fighter, would defy the Supreme Court. I’m referring to U.S. President Andrew Jackson, also referred to as “Stonewall.” He did nothing to uphold the ruling of the court. Jackson stood by idly as people suffered and died. The federal government forced the Cherokee on to what history has remembered as the “Trail of Tears.” Many died during the walk. Witnesses, some who could not bear to look on the Indians without tears, told of the suffering of my ancestors.

I felt it strangely ironic that one of the sponsors of the immigration law, chose first to speak about a “nation of laws.”

Nation of laws. From this perspective of time, it seems a strange selection of words. This is a nation of immigrants, who quickly forgot the perils of journey and the harshness of fate that drove so many people here. Not all of us forget, though.

Apparently, millions of people leave their homelands by air, come here and stay until invited to leave – or in some increasingly rare cases, to stay. Of course, there is also a large group, the Mexicans who come in search of work. I am also the grandson of two such individuals. If you had told me they were criminals when I was 10, you would have invited a harsh rebuke. My feeling on that has not changed.

That should be neither here nor there 50 years later. Today, other descendants want the borders sealed tightly. Two hundred years later, we see the tide of people is too great. Boulder has long had a slow-growth policy, which is consistent with preserving the beauty of this area. It is understandable.

Admittedly, I’m a lone voice among most of my friends and even family. I have been unpersuasive, as health care costs rise and jobs remain scarce. Meanwhile, menial jobs and farm work goes wanting. Hire a U.S. citizen for farm work and the farmer will have an opening in two to three weeks. The Mexican who might want to come only seasonally to work the farms has no choice. They make the best of their stay or they face two prospects. They can join the hopeless on welfare. Or, they can return empty handed to Mexico. I’m inclined to believe they would rather work.

The Mexicans come from abject poverty. They can ill afford health care at the prices we pay. We can’t morally deny them care. So, they depend on generosity. Apparently, the main reason they drive up the cost is they go to the emergency room at odd hours – the only time that they have available.

One last note on health care, the Los Angeles Times says it is the poor white American who is driving up costs. Certainly, an overburdened system doesn’t need more sick and or dying. Hispanics allied with their families’ claim that the contributions of these hard-working individuals make up for it. The employer should pay for their health care, but doesn’t. It’s less expensive to fire them. And fire them, they do.

With that out of the way, I’ll say we need immigrants. We need immigrants because too few in our country seek careers in science and engineering. The H1B visa provides education opportunity to non-citizens. If it were not for these foreigners, half the seats for graduate level courses would not be filled.

We need immigration reform because it’s time the U.S. government got out of the business of destroying families. U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder County, says the entire system needs to be scrapped. We can save millions of dollars that go to deporting mothers and fathers who care for children who are U.S. citizens.

Yes, we are a nation of laws. Some have found it convenient to ignore those laws. Things have improved, but not entirely. Indians living on reservations have the benefit of free health care. There also is grant money for higher education. Up until 60 years ago, it was more convenient to merely round up anyone who looked like they might speak Spanish and bus them off to Mexico. Today, though rare, we ship off people who were infants when they entered the country. This is an inconceivable injustice to people who don’t speak the predominant language of Mexico.

As our concern grows for the sputtering economy, it’s time we considered enlarging the talent pool and bringing opportunities for training and education to those who are already Americans.

“The more productive we become, the better off everyone our nation can be” - Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg was reported to have begun an advocacy group dedicated to reforming immigration. A link appears below. Today, we could be training far, far more computer programmers. The Dream Act would have allowed a path to citizenship for college graduates and veterans of the military. We should do that. We should take an evangelical passion to educating young men and women who want to come to this country and the ones who are here.

In the available time I had to speak with Rep. Jared Polis, I couldn’t possibly get all of that said. I admit, it may seem odd to some that a (part) Native American would be pro-immigration. I share Zuckerberg’s belief that the benefit of more educated Americans will be shared by all.

I told Polis about the DaVinci Coders. He was intrigued.

For those interested, the DaVinci Coders program offers two courses in Ruby on Rails programming. The next courses begin April 15.

Raymond Alvarez is an illustrator and graduate of the Ruby on Rails fall 2012 program. A contributing writer to Impact, Alvarez offers previews of artwork at https://www.facebook.com/Ascending.Art. Alvarez, a former newspaper reporter, is an active blogger on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.  Facebook: BolderRealEstateTeam

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