I have no credentials, that is, no string of letters following my name and no impressive Curriculum Vitae. All I have is my experience.
I've always attracted a motley group of friends, people on the fringes of other groups. I've never been in any kind of sorority (organized or spontaneous) of homogenous friends with whom I had everything in common. Think of the cliques in school and how they were usually groups of practically identical people. I never fit into any of that, even as a young child. I was in the 'clique of oddballs' if I had to label it.
Interacting with lots of different people has given me insights and perspectives that many other people don't have because they know only people who are just like them. By having friends who are on the fringes of these groups I get more of an 'inside view' of their lives and lifestyles. When you're more 'in' the group then they let you in on their real selves. It breaks the barriers of stereotypes. In a sense maybe this gives me some 'street creds'.
I've been pretty pissed, yet a little amused, at the talking heads on TV who have absolutely no idea what is really going on with many of the illegal immigrants. They've never spent any time with them getting know why they're here, how they got here, how they live, or what they really think of America. Going to the border and ambushing them with questions doesn't count. These reporters have no street creds. Of course, having street creds isn't 'politically correct.' And they don't want street creds because they'd rather believe their own notions than deal with reality.
One of my really good friends (who has a PhD but isn't 'using' it) met an illegal Mexican, and they fell in love. As you can imagine this was quite a shock for almost everyone she knew. But love is rare and precious, and you often find it in the least expected places. He did what he had to do to 'get legal' which can be a very complicated process, especially if the person is here illegally first. But this is good because people should be willing to jump through hoops to become a legal resident or citizen. And marrying someone first does not make any of the process easier or faster. My friend and her love did not marry until after he was finally legal.
Knowing someone personally who has gone through all of that has shown me how things really work. And it has also given me some insights into the world of illegal Mexicans, particularly in the Southeast which might vary somewhat from the border states of the Southwest. I've personally seen the small houses where 20 young Mexican men live together to keep their expenses as low as possible so that they have more money to send back home to their families in Mexico. I've heard the stories of Pablo or Juan who came here only for a few months, long enough to make a little extra money. These young guys aren't in America because they crave freedom and American citizenship. They are here because they want to make some quick money. They almost exclusively do landscaping and construction work (carpentry, masonry, etc.) that is easily paid in cash. They don't pay income taxes or into the Social Security system. They are uninsured, both in Worker's Compensation and health. They might appear to be living in abject poverty, but it is more often than not by their own design. The fewer things they have the easier it is for them to move quickly.
It is a huge exaggeration for people to think that every Mexican worker has brought their family with them to America so that they can all become citizens. I've heard some ridiculous arguments from both sides of the political aisle that assure me that these people have no earthly idea what is really happening with illegal Mexican immigrants. One even said, "for every illegal worker there is also a family that needs services, etc." (that's paraphrased and I didn't bother to remember who said it because it was so stupid) Sure, there are families involved, but most of them are not in the US but are in Mexico. If there are any vast conspiracies going on here it's that these illegal Mexicans have figured out how to exploit the 'wealthy' Americans. Most of them don't care about America except for how much money they can make. Call me 'mean spirited' or cynical or whatever you like, but I'm just reporting my own personal experience which I'm willing to bet is much closer to reality than what you hear from the suits and ties.
to be continued...