Libertad de Mi Familia

It’s the 4th of July but I don’t have the usual story of how my forefathers walked down the gangplank on Ellis Island or bound and chained in the bowels of a slaveship. My grandfather came here first as a legal migrant worker from Mexico in the World War II era ‘Bracero’ program (loosely meaning brothers in arms). The US had the need for manual laborers during the war because a large chunk of its able bodied men were off fighting the war so the US government created a program where Mexican aliens could legally work here during that time. My grandfather was one of those. He worked here and sent money back home to his family.

The Bracero program was ended at some point and my grandfather was like ‘Duuuuuude! Bogus!’ So he went back and brought his family over here anyway. They were illegals but I ask you when one is willing to work and another is willing to hire, where is the crime in that? Perhaps you can argue that he was taking an American’s job? Number one, I don’t see people thronging around the ‘migrant’ booth at the job fairs and number two: a job isn’t your job unless you’ve been hired for it. He didn’t jump some ‘real American’ in the parking lot and beat him senseless with a blackjack and take his job. And immigration laws be damned, capitalism follows the law of supply and demand.

Anyway they were illegal for a time until my aunt was born here. Once she was born here that made her a citizen which gave them the inside track on becoming legal. It’s a funny loophole: you’re illegal unless you make a baby. Hello! I’m Catholic AND poor? I’m right on it!

For a time they were legal and still migrants. Some people would say that they were being exploited for cheap labor, but I say that when you have an offer and acceptance, that is voluntary work. Did the employer offer them a living wage? I tell you if he was forced to pay more, he could have employed less people, my people might not have been hired at all, and then we would see how much living they would have done on zero. That plus everybody else would have paid more for produce to cover the ‘living wage’, maybe the farmer even goes out of business so everybody loses.

Was it a living wage? Well dammit they lived and when you’re industrious dirt poor is only a transitional stage and when my grandfather died he even owned his own house. In fact, before he died I asked my grandfather about his experiences as an illegal migrant worker. He told me he used to blog about it and he gave me a some writing on a scap of paper which I will post now:

It’s hot. I’m tired. My family is a huddled mass. I can’t wait until lunch time so I can eat the food bought with my own money that I earned with the work I have done with my own two hands. I didn’t uproot my family and take them to a country where we don’t even speak the language because I think I’m being exploited. I did it because I vowed that being poor sucks and by God we will never be poor again!

I would post this now but Al Gore hasn’t invented the internet yet, damn his oily hide!! Being a migrant worker is not easy let me tell you but I push forth so that I can make money for myself and one day my grandson can play pool and blog. Too bad Lauri hasn’t been born yet. Lucky Michael gets to live in the same era as her and I’m stuck living here in the same era as someone they call ‘grandma’. Oh well. Peace and I’m out. Viiiiiiiiiiiva the BLOG!!!!!!!

When he gave me that scap of paper back in 1987 I had no idea what he was talking about. Now, in 2004, it’s all come together. I’m getting misty just thinking about it. Yes grandpapgogue, viva the blog.

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