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Letter to President Bush from the South

Dear President Bush,

My 7 month old daughter was born with severe asthma and requires daily nebulizer treatment to stay alive.  I live in southern Mexico and have been working in the fields all day but still can't afford the medicine so she can continue to breathe.  I make about $120 a week working 6-days a week for 10 to 12 hours a day.  I have no health insurance and can't pay for the visits to the clinic. I was barely able to earn enough to pay rent, keep the sewers and electricity working, and buy enough food for my family to eat.

I will be traveling north next week, and will promise to pay a coyote $1,200 to guide me in a 3-day walk through the remote deserts of southern Arizona in 100-degree heat.  At a stash house near Three Points, I will be loaded into a trunk of a broken down car and driven to Phoenix.  I hope I don't suffocate, and that the driver (who will most likely be a meth addict, due to the increasing penalties and increasing profits that have brought in the hard-core element to the smuggling game) won't run from the Border Patrol and crash the car at high speed while I'm unrestrained in the trunk.

Then, if I make it to Phoenix, I hope to be able to stay there long enough to pay for a few months of my daughters medicine.  I will probably work in a kitchen washing dishes, pick cotton or fruit all day, do landscaping or construction, or maybe roofing during the Arizona summer.  I'm confident I will get a job because the American economy is totally dependent on cheap immigrant labor for the work no one wants to do once they are established in the society and have had a chance to get an education.

Despite the health risks of these jobs, I will be afraid to ask for any medical care should I become ill because if I do I will likely be reported to immigration authorities and sent away.  If I get hurt on the job, I also know I can't collect workers compensation. Nevertheless, my employer will likely take social security and other taxes out of my pay, even though I could never possibly benefit from them.

Hopefully I will be able to send my family money using Western Union, who will charge me up to 15% and will make about 1.3 billion in profit in the coming year, primarily from the fees the charge low-wage workers just trying to send some money home to their loved ones.

I can't get a driver's license or insurance because I'm here illegally.  Any minor traffic incident no matter who's fault it is will immediately get me deported.

If I'm lucky enough to avoid all this I won't see my family for months, if not years, because it's become so difficult and expensive to cross the border.  Therefore, where I used to do seasonal work, now I need to stay in the United States on a semi-permanent basis.  When my daughter eventually dies or another emergency befalls my family, I will make the arduous and risky journey again to attend the funeral or other event.  I may become one of the 500 people who perish from heat stroke and dehydration crossing the Arizona-Mexico border every year. There used to be stashes of water to help keep people alive but the people who were putting the water out have been arrested and there are an increased number of armed "patriots" guarding the borders that make the travel even more dangerous.

Thank you for your interest in my situation.  Keep up the good work!

Juan

Counterpoint Letter

Copyright 2006. All Rights Reserved.