I was appalled yesterday when I read Phyllis Schafly's article entitled "Is it assimilation or invasion?" (http://www.townhall.com/columnists/phyllisschlafly/ps20011128.shtml).
This is the kind a rhetoric that has kept many good Hispanics away from the Republican Party. I am sure we can offer a better alternative to this type of language.
Today my heart gladden when I received this unsolicited rebuttal to her article by Marta Guevara. The Eagle Forum would do well in sharing this and other writings by Marta with its members.
Pedro Celis, Ph.D.
Republican National Hispanic Assembly
Washington State Chairman
By Marta Guevara (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bellingham, Washington, Nov 30, 2001.
Phyllis Schafly's article of November 28, 2001 does a great disservice to the millions of hard-working, patriotic Hispanic citizens of the United States. She uses inflammatory rhetoric and the tragedy of 9/11 to fan the flames of anti-Mexican / Mexican-American / Hispanic sentiment in the U.S.
For many years I have respected Phyllis Schlafly and read with interest her writings on different issues affecting the U.S political landscape. As a second generation American woman of Mexican descent, I am deeply hurt by her caustic remarks and the negative fashion in which she uses the proud word "Mexican". My heart hurt when I read this article. Let me explain why.
As you read the article you can't help but notice the desultory fashion in which Phyllis uses the word "Mexican". "Mexican" is the word used to describe citizens of Mexico, just as we use "Swedish" for citizens of Sweden or "French" for citizens of France. When she should use the term Mexican-American or Hispanic to describe Americans of Mexican descent living in the U.S., she indiscriminately uses the term Mexican thus blurring the distinction between the citizens of the two nations.
In this article Phyllis Schlafly vilifies our Mexican neighbors by insinuating, even though there is no corroborating evidence, that they allowed, and even aided, 9/11 terrorists crossing the border into the U.S. Since Phyllis feels so strongly about this then what does she think we should do about our Canadian border since we know 9/11 terrorists entered the U. S. through the Canadian border?
She goes on to write "The 9/11 events have temporarily shelved the foolish proposals to grant amnesty to three million Mexicans illegally living in our country." What Phyllis does not know is that immigration law is exceedingly complex. Bradley C. S. Watson, a fellow in Politics and Culture at the Center for Economic and Policy Education, Saint Vincent College, and an adjunct fellow of the Claremont Institute gives an overview of why our immigration laws don't work. Mr. Watson writes:
(The complete text of the article can be found at http://www.claremont.org/precepts/307.cfm.)
She also criticizes a Mexican constitutional amendment that would allow Mexican citizens to retain their Mexican citizenship even after they become U.S. citizens. Last time I checked there were millions of U.S. citizens with dual citizenship including immigrants from our neighbor to the north, Canada. She also denounces the concept of an 'open border' between the U.S. and Mexico, even though the U.S. shares an 'open border' with Canada.
Phyllis mentions the term "reconquista", Spanish for reconquer, and says "some Mexicans" use the word to describe their desire to see California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas returned, or re-acquired by Mexico. I grew up in Southern California and lived there for over thirty years, until 1988, and I have never heard of the word.
I come from a family of immigrants, as does almost every person in this country, including Phyllis. My grandparents emigrated to the U. S. from Mexico in the early 1900's. They came to this new land seeking a better life for themselves and their children. They worked hard with their hands, and with their hearts, through difficulties and hardships, so that they might achieve the dream that so many had lived and died for - freedom. Freedom to pursue their highest goals; freedom to speak the truth that was in their heart; freedom to work, prosper, and live, in a land in which all men are created equal, and given equal opportunity to succeed.
I am thankful my grandparents were welcomed to this country and given the chance to live free and work hard for the American dream.
I am glad that their fellow Americans welcomed "the strangers in their midst".
I am proud of my many uncles, cousins, brothers and nephews who have and are serving in our nation's military. In one generation my family went from farm workers to aircraft designer, personnel manager, teachers, civic leaders, college professor. Moreover, each succeeding generation has been even more successful. Are we assimilating, Phyllis? Absolutely! And we making America stronger in the process.
But, don't just take my word on it. Talk to Dr. Pedro Celis and his family, Mexican immigrants and proud American citizens. Dr. Celis is a computer architect at Microsoft and an active community and national leader. Ask Dan Garza, another Mexican immigrant and former farm worker. Dan has his roots in central Washington where he served as a Toppenish City Councilman before moving on to serve as Hispanic media coordinator with the Interior Department in Washington, D.C.
We, and millions of other Americans of Mexican descent are proud of our country. We work hard, pay our taxes, serve our communities, send our sons to war. We cried at the tragedy of 9/11 and prayed for our nation . . . and we fly the American flag with honor, respect and pride.
We're not just "assimilating", Phyllis . . . . we are America! Just like you.
Wife, Mother and Grandmother
Former Republican candidate for Washington State Legislature
Republican National Hispanic Assembly
Church Deacon / Chair of Women's Ministries
Community Bible Fellowship
Member and Past President
Republican Women's Club of Whatcom County
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