I'm torn on this subject. I support the Board's action, I oppose people entering the country illegally, and want most of those who have done so to leave the country and use legal methods if they want to come back.
But I see a lot of dangerous thinking in the mix when we discuss the issue. For example, there's this quote from the local leader of the "Help Save Manassas" group:
"When we moved to this area, it was just a regular American community," said Greg Letiecq, the leader of the group Help Save Manassas, which has lobbied strongly in support of the measure. "Six years later it's transformed into something different. It doesn't resemble the American dream that I bought or that I wanted to raise my children in."
Now, it is clear that there are illegal immigrants in Manassas. But what is also clear is that there are a lot of legal immigrants, and even legal citizens, in Manassas that are, shall we say, of other ethnicities than the likes of myself and Greg. There's a large Hispanic community here now, that was just a small population when I first moved here in 1981. But they aren't all illegals -- and I bet the majority aren't illegal.
In fact, I'd bet that if you removed every illegal from Manassas and Prince William tomorrow, Westgate and Georgetown South and other places would STILL be largely Hispanic. They'd still have people, legally here, who want to sell ice cream out of push-carts. They'd still be speaking Spanish amongst themselves, playing soccer on every field they could find, they'd still have their specialty food stores and places where they could congregate (the stereotypes here are for emphasis and to make a point, not to sell the stereotype as real or indicative of a problem).
There are people who complain about new development taking away their "scenic views". You know the people who buy house on a quarter-acre lot abutting a large, undeveloped section of woodland, and then get all upset when the owner sells it to someone who builds OTHER houses on quarter-acre lots abutting the NEXT undeveloped woodlands?
What I tell them is -- if you want a scenic view in your back yard, BUY the land around your back yard. And then hope the government doesn't decide to take it from you.
Well, Greg obviously couldn't BUY all of Manassas to make sure it remained the "American dream" for his family. I'm not really sure what you CAN do if that's what you want. People have long tried to keep their neighborhoods the way they remember them. A few will complain when the "wrong types" of people move in. Yet somehow in the past we've mostly survived, and adapted, and it turned out our commonalities outweighed our differences.
But I fear that won't be the case this time, because of the barrier of language and culture, as well as a new, disturbing focus on "diversity". I've heard some in the Latino community proudly proclaim that the idea of the "melting pot" is dead, that the goal was no longer to assimilate, but to embrace cultural differences, and in fact say proudly that they could love America but ALSO love their "home country".
I've read reports that say it's ALWAYS been like this, that every wave of immigration has raised the same angst, the same issues, and yet after a few decades everybody was assimilated whether they were expecting to do so or not. But I haven't lived through that process enough times to feel like I believe it.
Still, I wonder exactly what "American dream" we are all supposed to be pining for, and how, or if, ridding ourselves of illegals is really going to get back that "dream" we "bought" for our families.
Meanwhile, I hope that the legal Hispanic population doesn't take comments like this the wrong way. Because most of us really don't have an issue with legal residents regardless of their ethnic, religious, or cultural backgrounds. And I'm betting that most of these fine people, residents and citizens, were ALSO trying to buy a piece of the "American Dream" -- and are wondering why some people's version of that dream seem to exclude them.