Taking the pulse of the Delaware Valley community on Immigration
For the last several years the Mexican Consulate in Philadelphia has offered free immigration sessions, as well as other sessions regarding family, criminal and employment law, to its citizens.
For the last several years the Mexican Consulate in Philadelphia has offered free immigration sessions, as well as other sessions regarding family, criminal and employment law, to its citizens. This unique and much needed program allows Mexican nationals the ability to ask questions in a protected forum and to learn about their rights and obligations under the U.S. laws. On a personal note, such sessions give me the opportunity to take the “pulse” of the greater Delaware Valley’s immigrant population, to hear those present speak of their fears, their dreams and the new immigration trends in the community
Not surprisingly, the hottest topic of late has been the immigration laws. The raging question, when will amnesty happen, is always on the tip of everyone’s tongue and this past Tuesday was not any different. However, this Tuesday the mood was decidedly more subdued than in previous sessions. Immediately after the November election, all those present at the Consulate were elated and could almost taste an amnesty bill. However, this Tuesday there was no such expectation, for the economic reality of the U.S. had finally sunk in. Despite the hope that our new president would be our economic Messiah, no immediate solution to the massive layoffs and overall despondency most of America now feels has been found. Americans are fearful for the future. Each morning as they go to work they worry if that day will be their last, if they will be the next one to be laid off. If they do survive the week, they worry all weekend about the next week and their future job security. They complain, rightly so, of lack of new job opportunities.
This fear trickles over to both the documented and non-documented immigrant communities. However, what was most surprising this week at the Mexican Consulate was the answers to my questions. When I asked all those who thought that amnesty would arrive in six months to raise their hands, no hands appeared. When I asked those who thought amnesty would be granted within one year to raise their hands, none appeared. When I asked those who believed amnesty would pass in two years to raise their hands, no hands again appeared. Finally, when I asked all those who were not employed to raise their hands, not a single hand in a crowd of 30-40 went up in the air.
What does this all mean? It means that those in a horrible economy who feel the need to work in order to survive will find jobs, perhaps not good ones but jobs nonetheless. It means that the old fashioned American work ethic still lives on, perhaps more strongly in the immigrant community than others. Critics may say that these immigrants have jobs because they are willing to work more hours for less pay than Americans and they are most probably right. However, it does not detract from the fact that all those in the room on Tuesday were working, in the worst of economies, because they wanted and needed to work, just like our ancestors did so many years ago. It’s certainly food for thought.