There's rumors that they've never crossed the [unintelligible].
You know, so I ca-I can-I can see-I can see the impact on that, uh, you know, on how it is on them. So I -- you know, it affects -- it-it-it's-it's -- affects everybody. But how it affects people really depends on the size of the community and wh-what the community does when they're there, if they're open and an accepting community. You know, are you interested in going and, you know, purchasing food at, uh -- right here at Joe's Market, uh, in town? I like to go to Joe's Market. Um, but again, food. [Laughter]
We're talking food.
There is a common theme here.
All right. Anyo-I'm sorry.
I-I-I think the other situation about language -- I-I'm -- to tell you the truth -- I came to this country, a-as I said, eight years ago. And I am surprised that the-the debate is whether the language should be English or what other language. Because I think, you know, if, in my house, I speak one language, and-and I invite somebody to come to my house, I expect them to accommodate to my house if they are coming to my house. But th-that's what I'm -- I am surprised of this. I knew from the beginning that if I was coming to a different country, there was going to be differences in language, differences in culture, and dif-and I was ready to make, you know -- uh, take the necessary steps to change. Um, a lot of the language, I think, also has to do with the, uh, opportunity that people have to legalize themselves. For example, when I came to this country, I came as a permanent resident, um, with the idea that I was going to stay -- come here to stay. Uh, we went through a lot of change academically, you know, uh, our family. So the idea was we're here to stay. We have to learn the language so we can, you know, um, become part of this society. But when people don't have the opportunity to do that, and they come here anyway illegally, well, a lot of people come here hoping that they're able to work. You know, and whenever they get caught and sent back, you know, well, their chance ended there. So there is no point in -- you know, I'm going to learn the language because I'm-I'm going to stay there, if there is an opportunity that they can legalize themselves and-and stay in the country. So I think a lot of language has to do also with the opportunity to-to be in the United States legally versus illegally, and just, you know, stay here for as long as they're able to and then go back.
I think she-I think she, uh, raises an important point here, because y-we started this conversation talking about whether or not we should restrict immigration. And the more restrictive we are -- we can be procedurally, bureaucratically more restrictive, but can we really keep our borders from being permeable? People can cross our borders virtually at will. So the stricter we are, the more -- in-in-in one sense, the more undocumented -- or some people call them illegal aliens -- people who are seeking work, they're seeking opportunity, they're seeking whatever it is they're s-just to be with family, whatever it is in this-in this country. Um, and-and that's sort of the dark side or the underside of this, uh -- of this issue about tightening things up. And then-then people who come into the country, um, undocumented, illegal -- um, you have this whole array of justice issues that come out of that. Uh, if they're, um -- if-if -- in-in-in areas like housing, uh, the landlord can be, uh -- can be abusive, can not keep the property up. Uh, and who are they to complain to? If they complain to authorities, what happens? Uh, they can be victimized by crime. If they call the police, uh, and the-and the police start asking for identification, what happens? Uh, they can, uh -- uh, they-they-they don't get the medical treatment that they need. If they go into a hospital and-and they don't have the -- uh, the insurance cards, they don't have the proper identification, what happens? They're put into some-into some jail somewhere and then sent back to-to wherever they came from. And consequently, uh, these people subject themselves to great risk and great abuse of-of just basic human dignity, uh, by taking the risk to come to this country, uh, undocumented. And so the tighter we make this, the harder we make it bureaucratically for people -- for these folks to come in, uh, the more people we have who face this justice dilemma. Uh –
Good. Good. That's good. Right on target. I'll take it. We're going to move into approach two. That's kind of where we're going.
You know, and again, brief review on approach two. A nation of immigrants remembering America's heritage. This is who we are. You're not Native American. You came from someplace else, you know? All right. Uh, so this notion is about welcoming newcomers. What should be done? What's the flip side? We need-we need to admit more. And, you know, our immigration policy is based on three things. One, the idea of refugees, those that see persecution. Two, this notion of expand family-sponsored immigration. And lastly, we-we allow more skilled laborers into this country. That's-that's -- that is what our immigration policy is based on. And then on top of that, we need to negotiate a new immigration policy with-with Mexico. All right? Drawbacks, dangers. Without limits, the lifeboat which is America could capsize, drowning us all. Caring for and educating all of these newcomers -- as Ed said earlier, there's a cost to that. There are no free rides. This notion that Americans in low wages suffer. They will -- they lose their jobs. The idea that citizens' wages don't go up because immigrants work for less. All right? And lastly, that even -- we even lose job to immigrant competitors. Americans lose jobs to immigrant competitors. All right? So approach two.
[unintelligible] expound on what Mike just had to-to say. Um, it's been my experience in working with the few Hispanics that-that, uh, I've dealt with here in our community that they bring with them, uh, whatever restrictions or con-or-or problems that they have from, uh, maybe a-an oppressive government that they-they existed under in their own-own land. Uh, and when they get here, that creates problems for them here, because if they have a problem with their living conditions, they don't want to say anything to their landlord, because they're afraid of the way they would be dealt with, the way they may have been back home. Uh, they don't go to the police and report, um, situations that they may have been victims, because they were afraid of maybe problems that they might have seen in, uh, policing i-from their native land. So I-I think, again, it's communications. If they understand what needs to be done here, i-it's going to be better for everyone.
I believe they need to be trained, too, uh, far as the -- our standards here. I don't believe any person is beyond the law. I mean, um, they, uh -- any immigrant, American citizen, anybody, needs to abide by the law. And, uh, like he said, yeah, they've been oppressed. And it's a lot of people that have come over from other countries that have been oppressed, too. And, uh -- but they need to know the law, and we need to educate them on the law. Because, uh, I've had a problem. Some of them don't -- uh, they don't respect, uh, certain things. Uh, they don't respect -- if they live near you, they don't respect your property. I've had that problem. And they throw trash on your property. And, uh, you know, I feel that they need to assimilate in the -- I can't go live next to you and do you the same way, because there's going to be a repercussion. I think they also need to be responsible, be responsible for their actions, even though -- we can't always -- uh, they're over here in America. They were oppressed wherever they came from. But now that they're in America, they need to be responsible, too. This is all -- I mean, no person should be beyond the law, no matter where you came from. You should not be beyond the law. And we should not let them go, or whoever, immigrants or whatever -- go and then, you know, let the citizens go. We need to draw a line that everybody stays within the law.
And I think it's our responsibility, as citizens of this community and as citizens of this country, to assist in that education, that we need to be, um, welcome hosts initially and help people to understand what is acceptable in this country and what is not and to -- you know, we need to do it as individuals. I think that the-the poultry industries in this area and the other large corporations and businesses need to do the same thing. They need to help individuals instead of just saying, you know, "These people are bad. They don't follow our rules. They don't know them. They ought to learn them." Well, it's our job as -- i-I feel that i-it's-it's my job as a Christian person to-to say, "Okay, this is how it's done here. Let me help you. Let me show you. Let's do this together first." Y-there's-that's-that's our responsibility as-as citizens.
And als- --
And ha-having an undocumented population is-is-is dangerous. Um, it's -- it poses public-safety risks, uh, 'cause we can't find people. Um, child support is a huge issue. We can't find fathers of children, um, because they don't exist. They don't show up on any computer screen. They don't show up on any place. So h-the undocumented population costs us a lot of money. And it's-and it's a-it's a public-safety risk in terms of driving without licenses, living places that we can't find, committing crimes and we can't find people. That's a real concern, I think, in the community and in the country.
I was going to say, in speaking of-of abiding by the law, we have to do it, too. There are unscrupulous landlords out there who are-who are taking of it. They fully know the law. And they-they can get away with it, because --
-- they've got somebody that isn't going to complain about them, who might not be able to read the lease fully.
Um, we are their potential employers. How many employers are giving them their full due as-as new-as new employees? So I think the law abiding --
A couple of years ago, I was walking over to Smith's Restaurant. It was a Wednesday morning after church. And here was a -- someone from South America. He had this summons in his hand. And he said to me, "Do you know where the JP court is?" And I read the summon, and he'd been stopped twice for D-DUI. And I said, "Well, let me take you there." The point being when we got to the court, the lady took the piece of paper. He was then sat down, and somebody came to him and told him what was going to happen. But he had no idea. And he was running around with a piece of paper.
Oh, they're-they're collecting double, triple security deposits on some people.
Is that right?
They're not putting, uh, the-the money into an escrow account. And-and they don't know the law. They don't know the law, so they're being taken advantage of.
One of the really good schemes is, uh -- you know, you got to give some of these -- you know, if there's a buck to be made -- is in car insurance. And they'll buy a car, and they're given, uh, an insurance card, uh, and they pay whatever. And they think they have car insurance, and it's not-and it's not. You know, and it-i-i-i-it's sad. It's sad to s-to see those kind -- and they're still going on. I mean, this was going on years ago. It's still going on today. But, uh, with the identity theft that we have in our own country, a-a-you know, you look at all the different scams -- you know, th-those things are goi-not going to go away. They're an easy target.
I'm curious. Is there any liaison between the d-like a Legal Aid, or is there a place where-where even an undocumented worker could go and check certain things out before they enter into things like car insurance or --
You know, like is this-is this legit, you know?
We have two really good -- or three really good avenues here in town for, uh, immigrants, uh, to get help. We have La Esperanza. And, um, the other name, uh --
-- La Gaceta, uh, which is I believe is funded and supported by the Catholic Church. Um, but then you also have Legal Aid, which these people can go to and get assistance with any, uh, legal issue which they might have.
I think this whole idea that the immigrants are coming and taking the jobs, and we're-we're-we're going to all be poorer, is something that's -- it's a-it's a global force right now anyway. You can lose your job to somebody who never crosses the border into the U.S. And, uh, if somebody comes here and wants to work in the chicken factory, I mean, whose job are they taking? Is there a line of, uh, Americans standing in line to work in the chicken factory? I don't think so.
Yeah. But this one is about reexamining our immigration policy. And what it's doing is-is -- it's along the lines of, you know, give refugees a better chance to prove persecution. And, as you know, in this community, it w-you know, the-the majority of the initial immigrants were Guatemalan.
And this is the idea of, you know, if folks are coming, uh, you know, you can kind of pick and choose by earmarking the skill set, all right? So, I mean, where, where do we stand. Where, where should we stand as Americans in looking at other countries that are oppressed? I mean, can we draw the line for folks that are trying to get out of that country? How do you feel about that?
As I see it, uh, there are many people that are oppressed, as you say. And if we're going to allow just certain ones, then we should open the borders to everybody. I believe all people; I don't care where you're from. If you're seeking freedom and you said, "Well, this is a freedom country," then it should be opened up to everybody. This is the way I feel.
Accountability is very important. Accountability is -- I mean, I worked in a, a supervisor at a chicken plant for over 10 years and I supervised, uh, mostly Hispanics. Uh, it was -- I can't -- I grew up in this community and some of the things they are dealing with and some of the things they're are going through, really them are some of the same issues I faced my whole life around here, but it seemed like people couldn't see that. So really part of me says, "Well, I must have been an illegal immigrant my whole life," you know? But, in, in our community I think a lot of prejudices came about when a lot of different issues started. People started coming for a job and everything and things weren't addressed. You know, like people -- there were language barriers and different things like that. But, uh, as working in a chicken plant, coming up it was the most, one of the most important jobs there was for our community, especially the black community. Now, as years went by, Hispanics came in and, and part of me felt that some of the black community were pushed out of the poultry business because of that; to make room for them. I worked there for 10 years and I know and I was supervising. It was just like some of them just being pushed out. But for what reasons -- some of the reasons was because they just had to make room for people. I don't think there was -- a part of me doesn't think that was fair. You know, a part of me feels if you come here it's the same rules for everybody. I have no problem with Hispanics. I love them all. Uh, I have good, real good friends. Uh, I couldn't speak no Spanish at all, but I got along with everybody and I've got quite a few Hispanic friends right here in Georgetown now. Uh, but, uh, a big part of it is, is the way some things or the way they do things in the small community. Some in this small community and there are some issues not addressed. I think that's, that's the big thing right now. I live, I live right down the street, I live right down the street from [unintelligible] Street and I'm surrounded by Hispanics. And just even behind my house is a big ditch. And I actually can look out my window and watch people come by, drink water out of the ditch or [unintelligible] in the ditch; a number of things. That hurt me. Do you understand what I'm saying? That hurt me. And I have reported it. I have talked to people about this because it can make them sick or whatever. And things have -- then things got a little worse, uh, behind the, the drinking issue. So I have addressed that. I have little kids. And just teaching people certain things are very important. We have to be accountable for everything we do. I understand it's a lot of justice issue and I, I help prisoners. I don’t want to put nobody in jail, you know? But I have come to the point that I had to -- I had my kids in the swimming pool. I actually have them stand right on the road with my kids in the swimming pool and urinate. So I have to call the police. I called them and I said, "I don't want them to go to jail. I just want you to move them along." But, you know, even as they move them along, I still feel that things should have been addressed. They should have [brought someone in] to speak their language to help them and tell them this is wrong. I can't tell them it's wrong. Do you understand? If I could, they would continue doing it, you know? And to me it's just that society just allows certain things to go and just push it to the side and before you know it, it's all out of whack. Then you have this great big old problem and then it's everybody's problem. Then everybody feels like, "Oh, you're more for the Hispanics than the black community," or whatever. It's just causing a great big problem, but I think that some of the issues be addressed [from the door]. Make people accountable for everything they do. It makes no difference. I'm, I'm sure that they came here for reasons, illegal or whatever, but still if you're here, obey the laws of the land, no matter what.
Okay. We've talked about, you know, some of the things along the lines of once they're here there's this whole notion of accountability for those of us here that were here first. You know, help them get the schooling, make sure they're responsible and things like that. I mean, but what I'm hearing is, is that we're not ready yet to really open the doors all the way.
To go back to your question before, you know, I think it was, and correct me if I'm wrong, uh, it's just that is it just [porous] and just allow people in? Do we restrict it? Government has to restrict it. Uh, we can't -- if you, if you look at population growths over the next 50 years, uh, this country will be bombarded and the infrastructures will never, ever, ever be able to hold up. It's going to be up to the government to somehow limit, uh, and in a very -- you know, there's still plenty of room here. But to say that anybody that wants to come can come, in my opinion, uh, is a sign of disaster for this country. Uh, immigrants have, have contributed very much to this rich nation in many different ways, but to simply say, "Everybody is welcome," uh, I don't think that, that the infrastructure will be able to, you know -- we're looking at some serious, serious problems down the road.
Even with as strict as it is, we have lots of people coming. I mean, since 9/11 it has gotten stricter, uh, but it hasn't slowed things down in, in this town. People continue to come, continue to move here. Uh, I volunteer at a community center and we can barely keep up with people walking in the door and they're new to the area, or calling on their phone and they don't know where this is and they don't know how to do this. And they're just looking for some guidance or some direction or some orientation. And, uh, and this curve continues. We're not even -- we're not to a peak yet. I feel like the community is continuing to grow and there are immigrants continuing to move to the county. The county is booming and jobs are here The county is booming and jobs are here and that's what really is kind of driving this. (T 2?) Uh, people are coming because there are jobs. And people come tomorrow, there are jobs and they come the next day, there are jobs. Uh, and, and it's -- that's the projection for this community or for this county. It's going to continue to grow and we're going to continue to have more and more immigrants move to our area.
Also, nine to 10 years ago when this started with a trickle of Hispanics, I worked with Ed and I remember this Ed. We, uh, didn't have La Esperanza then. And there were a lot of Hispanics, especially from Guatemala, who had never seen a refrigerator. Uh, didn't know what an electric stove was or a toilet; had no clue. So someone -- and I'm not sure it wasn't us at Lester Realty -- but somebody came up with the idea of handing out these flyers that said, "With an electric stove you do not take a bucket of water and pour it on it to shut it off." [Laughter] Uh, and we had people doing that and almost electrocuting themselves. Uh, but there was one problem with that; they couldn't read, even in Spanish of any kind. And couldn't figure out what the pictures meant. Uh, but La Esperanza came and I know that, uh, Sister Maria, I believe it was, starting running classes that were always filled on Saturdays, because it was about the only time the women were not working, showing them how to use an electric stove.
How to bathe the baby.
Well, that was a little farther down the road. [Laughter] That was Sister Rosa. But, I mean, just the basics. What was a refrigerator for? And that when you thaw food, you don't just put it in the sink and turn the water on all day. That was done a lot. I mean, they couldn't believe when they started getting $2,000 water bills because they would turn on the water and just let it run all day to thaw out meat to cook. And it wasn't that they were unintelligent or anything. They just didn’t have that experience.
Let's do it this way: if you, if you look at Georgetown now, okay? Georgetown is the result of approach two; legally or illegally you opened the faucets and they came. All right? Okay? I mean, that's it. Here it is; you are approach two. How has that impacted this community?
I think I listen to these folks talking and look at right back to the beginning and you talk about a land of opportunity and you think about incentive. A lot of people have a lot of different motivations for coming here, uh, for moving here. For where I'm at where I live, I have a motivation for being there. And different motivations are going to make me go to school or learn a language or do better for my child or my grandchild. And I'm sure that's common no matter what heritage somebody comes from. So take Georgetown and you think I'm sure this same discussion was taking place years back in New York or any one of these, uh, about the same type of issue with another color or another, uh, language of a group of people coming in. But I think it comes back to that motivation. And I've been in like emergency services and let's say when you deal with somebody that's in a bad situation like a medical or an injury type of thing, if two people want to communicate no matter what the language is, it could be on a farm, then you will communicate. There is certainly a trust issue and if somebody feels like they've maybe been oppressed and they see somebody maybe in a uniform or something that simulates a uniform, they might not have that trust yet because of what they've experienced in, in their -- uh, wherever they came from. But I think that develops. If their motivation is to succeed here, to do like other people that live here now or other people in their own culture that have come here and succeeded, they're going to follow along a, a pathway and it's going to be corrected as they go and probably corrected by the folks that brought them here or the folks that convinced them to come here. And you talk about time with La Esperanza or any of these other, uh, community centers, 10 years ago they were talking about not putting water on the oven and then they're talking about cooking on the oven and then they're talking about bathing babies. And now they're talking about putting babies in car seats. So it's a progression that's actually gone a long way in 10 years. So though it may really seem slow, people are motivated to fit in and to do well. And they're going to come about to where they're going to blend in. And I think we're just in a time where it's, uh -- we're still at odds. There is trust issues. There is, uh, not used to it type of issues, but I think give it another 10 years and this conversation is going to be happening in another community somewhere else because Hispanics, Haitians, whatever, slowly they'll start to blend in and still keep their culture, but blend into our own.
What happened to Georgetown? 1994 a trickle. 2005 it's still here. If I remember the data, the Hispanic Latino population of Georgetown was like point nine percent. Now I think you're banging around 35 percent, close. I think I'm close. Am I close?
You're pretty close.
Implications? What's happened? How do you feel? What are the changes to the town? Is Georgetown capsizing? This is approach two. What's going on?
Have we sunk? I don't think we've sunk.
I would have to agree with this gentleman. We've come a long way in assimilating our differences. Uh, when we first started on this road, uh, there were a lot of things that we butted heads about and, and, uh, there has been a lot of communications that's, uh, gotten the two sides closer together. Uh, now I find, uh, the Hispanic community is, is coming, uh, to the point where they have worked long enough in this neighborhood, uh, that, uh, they are establishing their own churches, their own businesses, their own, uh, places to, to, uh -- restaurants, their own, their own things that they, they can feel like it's their own community. And, uh, now they're all becoming, uh, profitable, uh, in doing that. And buying new homes, uh, establishing, uh, their own buildings, if you will, to where, uh, they're becoming a viable part of the community.
All right, but it's not all roses. What has happened to Georgetown? What's the flipside? Is anybody bothered by this? I mean, help me out here. Is everybody a happy camper? Are there folks in this town that are not happy campers and if so, why?
There is just a lot of folks in this town that's not happy. Uh, part of the flipside is even, even all the businesses and things going on right now, it's -- and even in the black community, a lot [unintelligible], it was harder for, uh, the black population to have a business in Georgetown.
And it's important and a lot of them feel that when the Hispanics came in they was given more of a easier hand because of everything that was going on. I mean, you look at TV sometime, it's -- and I realize they [come] in real fast and all that, but it makes me feel and even some of the people in the community that, uh, we've been here a long time and we didn't never have similar opportunities. And it is, uh -- you know, a lot of them have went for business. A lot of them have tried to get different homes in some of the same areas and tried to buy homes in the same areas the Hispanic population [bought] and, and it wasn't happening. But then all of the sudden it's happening. I mean, I don't -- I can go around the community and I can remember the people in this town that was in these communities when I grew up, you know. But there's nobody, there's nobody left no more. [unintelligible] [moved on] [unintelligible] Georgetown or whatever. I mean, there's nothing wrong with it. They had the right, but it was basically that was a time there was certain communities that we couldn't even move in. But now it's --
There was a, uh, a coworker of mine, an African American coworker and we, uh, we taught school together. And about 10 years ago many of the churches, this one included, tried to do a lot of outreach into the Hispanic community. And I was talking about that with him one day and he says, "You know, we've been kicked around for hundreds of years in this country and nobody ever cared about us." You know, you could see that it bothered him and this was a man of, of great faith himself. And I'd never thought of it that way. How it has impacted Georgetown, though, is I think, I think people for the most part are accepting it. Uh, they may not like some of the things that happened and some of the, you know, uh, urinating in the streets and stuff, you know. Those things aren't pleasant. But I think as time has gone on, uh, different people, whether they're Guatemalan, Mexican or Haitian -- I think those are the three main, uh, nationalities that we have here -- I think people pretty much accept them. I don't think there is any -- I don't know of any -- community, uh, lash back of these folks being here.
I think that, uh, some of it is that the Hispanic community grew so fast, but it really brought to light problems that have existed in Sussex County for a long time. People have, uh, not had adequate water or plumbing or sewer in certain towns, in certain areas of Sussex County; haven't been able to find jobs; haven't been able to get a ride to the doctor. It wasn't a language thing or a citizenship thing. I think that it really brought to light a lot of poverty issues that have existed in our county for a long time that we just lived with; that we were just used to because we kind of grew up here. And I think the Hispanic community, we focus a lot on that community, but it has really brought to light that there are issues. Our neighbors have these issues.
As Tony was saying earlier, you know, it, uh, it brings to light the racial issues that have existed in this county for a long time and the discrimination and the prejudice. Uh, and so when this, this, this new influx of immigrants came into the community, uh, it just made more visible what was already here with the African American community.
The African American, uh, community -- now I was born and raised in Georgetown, but I get a little upset at times at what's going on in Georgetown and I think the officials of Georgetown are really insensitive. They are only sensitive to a certain group of people. And we have been asking for a lot of things for years. We asked for subsidized daycare and we didn’t get it. And, uh, they do it now. The government backs daycares and stuff. We couldn't get that. A lot of -- I have friends that would try to set up businesses on Main Street. Well, they couldn't do it. And, uh, the few that did have businesses, they had to close up by eight o'clock. And they couldn't run their business after eight o'clock. And now, you can stay open all night long. And I think the town has catered more to this population and it has become insensitive to blacks. And, uh, to the other -- even Haitians do not have the privileges that the other Hispanics have. And even a housing issue. I have, uh, [known] people because I go around to the homeless shelters and, uh, we donate things to the homeless people. And it's been, uh, people that have been pushed out of homes because the greedy landlord wants to, uh, rent the houses to the Hispanics because they are taking advantage of this, uh, population. So they will put you out, put you out on the street just to rent to them so they can get the benefits of the money. I see as a get rich scheme and they are pushing blacks out. And if you go in the homeless shelters you can count on one hand how many Hispanics are in homeless shelters. But you go there and you'll see more whites and blacks in homeless shelters than you will Hispanics.
Thoughts, suggestions before we move on?
I think if the Christian communities come together, uh, I think they can make, help make a great impact on what's going on in Georgetown. And I really believe that, uh, in our church we support, we do a lot of things to try to work in our Hispanic communities. We don’t speak that much Spanish, but we try to do things to work together as a team that I think is very important. Like I said, we all came on different ships, but we're in the same boat now. It's here now so we have to deal with what we have, but we have to deal with it in a way that nobody be hurt, you know. Nobody be hurt and that's very important to me because, uh, everybody have feelings, you know. I don't feel that nobody should be hurt or damaged because of the language barrier or the color or whatever. Because I think everybody is important. So I believe as the Christian communities come together, I believe it will make a greater impact on what's going on in Georgetown.
Okay. Let's move on towards three, all right? This is a matter of priorities, putting economics first. Again, limit the number of newcomers. You know, their arrival impacts those who are already here. Uh, it costs American citizens. Competition from immigrants keeps wages down and even takes jobs away from Americans. We pay higher taxes to support education and social services for income. So what are some of the things that we can do? Keep out immigrants who would take American jobs or take jobs from Americans. Focus immigration strictly on skilled workers. Help out taxpayers in communities where immigrants settle. Stop illegal immigration; toughen up. I mean, you know, it's the porous border. Dangerous drawbacks from tradeoffs; again, immigrants get blamed for problems they do not cause. People who have no safe haven from tyranny. There will be no workers to do the unskilled jobs Americans refuse to accept. And the notion that immigrants are a critical part of this economy. All right? So approach three, thoughts?
Well, I think first dovetailing into what was just said on the, on the last piece, immigrants in Georgetown, at least in my view, have been an economic benefit to this community, at least in the sense that they have provided skilled or unskilled employees to a number of employers, particularly in the poultry industry. Uh, now in the construction industry. If you go around to all this housing development in the area, most of these construction crews, uh, if you're a homebuyer and you want to go talk to them about how they're building your house, then you need to take an interpreter with you. Uh, I think they've been, uh, an economic benefit to, uh, uh, in the real estate market where a, uh, property can be rented to folks. Uh, substandard property can be rented and profits made off of it that, uh, that wouldn't necessarily be, be rented to, uh, to other people. So I think in, in those regards and probably other regards, uh, they've been a -- at least they're coming here and people are hiring them. So whoever is hiring them and whoever is making money off of them through rental and other means, are economically benefiting. Whether or not the average citizen is economically benefiting is, is another question.
This can be so -- point three can be basically insignificant financially. Uh, this wave of export of jobs, the immigrants can actually help the United States as a nation in the future because at the rate we're sending work away and you know where, China, uh, around the globe, uh, we're going to have to look to these people and hope they come here just to be able to compete with -- you know, a third of the people in India are making less than a buck a day. So, uh, let's hope we have lots of immigrants come here that will work for less than $25.00 an hour if we want to save this nation as we know it.
Isn't that sad, though, that we want to bring in immigrants so we can pay them less to compete?
Sure, it is sad.
That is --
But, you know, the buck goes --
And we, we chase that dollar; business, people that run businesses.
Well maybe we should look at the, uh, globalization of the marketplace now.
And maybe do some restrictions on that. I don't, I don't know, but it just seems really sad to even suggest that we need to have more immigrants so they'll take the lower wages. There should be some kind of system in place so that they don't get paid less than an average American would get paid.
That's easy enough; you start paying $10.00 a pound a chicken --
At the grocery store.
I just won't eat chicken.[Laughter]
That's all it is. I mean, and being in production business and farming, uh, and we usually, uh, you get the cheapest labor you can, you can because you don't know what you're going to get when you take that product to the market. You're going to get whatever somebody wants to give you and it's based on what they think they can sell it for out in the public. So if you only want to only pay $3.00 a pound for chicken, then the farmer is only going to get about 25 cents a pound because somebody else has got to absorb that cost. And this is the whole thing. We are a nation of cheap, cheap food, cheap products, cheap gas. You think gas is high? We are cheap. Everything we have is cheap and expensive. And how does it happen? Because we import from foreign countries where they have cheap labor and the only way we can stay in existence is, like you said, we've got to come in with labor that is comparable and we pay a lot more than foreign countries. And then it all comes back to one thing; you the public, what are you willing to buy and are you willing to pay for it?
Yeah. There was that slogan years ago "Buy USA." How many people -- I mean, you see the slogan on a very few products today. But how many people actually go buy USA? Not if it comes from, uh, China.
Well, what people do is they go out to Wal-Mart and look for the rollback signs. "Oh, I'm going to save this," or it's been discounted this much.
I don't think anybody wants to go back to $400 VCRs or -- because that's what would happen if they were made in America. We'd be paying that.
Uh, I can hear another forum coming on.[Laughter]
No, but, but, but what the gentleman was saying that if the immigrants come here, now they may not be getting $25.00 an hour, but they're not getting $2.00 an hour. They're getting something comparable. And maybe we're getting them at a discount rate, but it, it rolls over into the goods where we're able to have the chicken at a decent price. The farmers can -- and they're still making much more money than they would have made in Mexico.
Help me out here. And I don't want to be too specific to Georgetown, but I have to be. From what I understand up and down the shore, 85 percent of the labor force in those plants -[Abrupt ending of the tape]
They can't compete up here so they have to go South because somebody is paying them.
A lot of the workers that leave, uh, in these chicken factories didn't leave on their own accord. A lot of times they were like pushed out. But, uh, as far as cheap labor, uh, that was the intention of the, uh, companies to have cheap labor. Because I can remember a few years ago with Purdue when they first brought them into Georgetown, Purdue thought they could pay them $4.00 or $5.00 an hour. Well that didn’t work that way because they got some lawyers. They got some lawyers that was on their side and they had to end up and pay. So they pay everybody the same starting wages now, but they were assuming they could bring them in and pay them $2.00 or $3.00 less than what they paid every -- that didn't work out. Because as they learn and they get smarter, they know when you're cheating them. And eventually you're going to have to pay them top wages anyway. As they get educated you're going to have to pay them top wages anyway. But, you know, Purdue was just -- they didn't do their homework. They just figured they'd pay them $5.00 an hour. See, they did that when the Puerto Ricans and all came and Mexicans came over years ago. That don't work today. That don't work today because they know when they is supposed to get a certain wage because they will ask and you will eventually have to pay them top dollars.
I think this whole, uh, immigration on economic basis is part of a larger problem of globalization. And, uh, I think the trend is inexorably towards bringing rich countries down to lower levels by exporting jobs or importing cheap, cheap goods. And I don't really think it will come here and willing to work in a chicken factory for, for less. The time will come when you can import the chicken from Brazil or China for even cheaper and so they'll be no chicken jobs.
Talk about the economics, uh, well if, if we were to try to stop the immigration; if we were to try to close our borders up more, I mean, that's a cost in itself. I mean, how much does it cost to put people out on our borders to watch or to put a fence up, you know, that they can't get through? And they'll find a way to get through the fence anyway if they want to get here, you know, badly enough. Uh, so the economics to the government of trying to reduce it or keep it at, at some level, you know, that, that would impact us also. But, I mean -- and it's not just here in Georgetown, I think, or here in the United States. I mean, because this -- the guest workers and the things that, you know, all of the countries that are Westernized countries that, that they deal with that because they bring in people to work at the jobs that supposedly others won't, won't take. Uh, but it does have a benefit to us here, I think, in Georgetown. Uh, and it is slow. It's been, it's been taking a long time, but I think, you know, because Sussex County is growing itself and so it helps in getting, uh, accommodations and, and maybe it does help us change our laws and, uh, so that we do provide better housing, but the better housing is for everybody that comes to the area. Yes, it will impact the immigrants first, but, I mean, it's going to help everybody. I mean, we need better housing for everybody, not just, not just them. And I think, you know, that's an economic cost also. So, I mean, everything has got a cost and I don't know which one, which is better, which is not. I think we have benefited, though, you know, it's been slow to happen. And I think we will continue to benefit from it.
I, I also think that, uh -- I haven't been in Delaware long -- in the United States long enough to know how everything was before, but I think, uh, over the last few years, uh, this town has experienced a lot of change anyhow and it's not only the immigration from -- people from other countries or, in this case, Hispanics, but also even just in this part of the, the state immigration from other states. I see a lot of discomfort in, in the town and in, in the county of, you know, people saying, "It bothers me that it used to take me 15 minutes to go to work and now it takes me 30 minutes to go to work because of traffic." Uh, it bothers them that they cannot go to the beach in the summertime because it's full of, you know, people from other, other states. So I think, uh, this county has experienced a lot of change, uh, and people, as, as I said, uh, have gone through a lot of discomfort throughout it. But during those years that hasn't been able to stop. Uh, growth in the county hasn't been able to stop, immigration hasn't been able to stop. And I really don't think there is much that, you know, we can do to stop it, but follow, you know, the economic rules. It's just part of the same economic growth of the county.
To add a little humor, I've been here 35 years and we had one traffic light. Now we have two. [Laughter]
And you can look at even in the poultry industry, you've got them moving from one plant to the other plant. Eventually, they're going to move out of the plant. See, I'm not going to sit here and say that they pushed all the African Americans out of the plant. Some of them left on their own for various reasons, but I know one thing about the poultry plants, it's a big health issue. Believe me, a health issue because of the carpal tunnel, the hands, the feet. Uh, it's real hard work. I started in the plant when I was -- in 1973. I think I've worked in every chicken plant in the State of Delaware. You know, you leave one and you go to the other and that's the way it was. And this is the same thing that's going on now. But, uh, eventually if a better opportunity comes, people will move in toward it, but right now I think what's pushing a [lot of them out] is, is the health issue. They're not trained even when they go -- I mean, this is, I think this is, this is really serious when a person can put a person inside of a, a chicken plant and they're really not trained. I done seen them lose their arms. I done seen them lose their legs. I done seen them lose fingers and whatever. So this is really serious. That's why part of me is saying, "Why bring people and put them in a situation where they're, you know, in harms way."You know, [they expect] [unintelligible] some time, you know, to work. This work has got to get done. [The only way] that we can get this work done, whether you're legal or illegal. You know, so --
Which brings to light an American value that wasn't mentioned in the beginning, discount prices, money. That's a big one and no one even said it. Also, speaking of Hispanic employment, there's a movie called, uh, Where'd all the Mexicans Go? And it's, it's based in California. And one day all the Mexicans disappear and it shows how they all are like desperate without their work because they all disappear from the orchards and from the maid services and the painting. They just all disappear. And it's, uh, kind of an ironic movie.
A Day Without a Mexican?
I'm not -- yeah, yeah.
Right. And so again, flip that around to this approach where it says, "We need to focus on our immigration on only those with skilled labor."
I think it's the American way. Excuse me, that's it.
What do you mean by that?
Uh, that is what's important. Like he was saying, it's all about the dollar (162, Phil, Declarative 2.1.2). How we can get the cheapest labor or the most for the least amount, for the least cost. The most benefit for the least cost.
But approach, approach three is saying only bring the elite of the immigrants.
And I don't think that's, that would be right.
But isn't that dollar what you're coming here for? What, what these workers are coming here for?
That's right. [unintelligible].
I mean, you're, you're saying that it's an evil, but that's, that's what they're coming here for. I mean, we have to realize that we're operating, whether we like it or not, in a global economy. And when we make decisions here locally, we need to do them with an eye towards that global economy. Uh, it's like Fred said, I agree that we ought to make, uh, it a little more restrictive for people to cross our borders. And when you do that, uh, you have to consider the cost. It's a daunting task to if you make it more restrictive, then you're going to have more illegals. Uh, so it's a, it's a just a gigantic task to be done.
And some of, some of you will remember when they put, they put up the Berlin wall and how was it ever going to come down? But it was torn down by their own people. We could put a wall all along the southeast, southwest portion of this country, but, you know, they'll find a way in. Somebody said that.
And also you need to have a balance because if you, uh, bring immigrants, only professional immigrants, you're going to have immigrant professionals teaching in universities. You're going to have professionals in the medical field. You're going to have professionals in economics and science. And then what is going to happen with the American people? Are those the ones who are going to work in the poultry plant? And then there is going to have -- there is going to be another problem. You need people at all different levels. Uh, you need the, you know, the [first] line workers, you need professionals, you need doctors. I mean, we have a great shortage in the, in the medical field and what is happening? We're bringing doctors, but you're -- you know, you don't see as many white American doctors anymore because there are a lot of doctors from other, from other places. And people even doesn't -- don't like that. Where is my typical American doctor? I see Chinese doctors. I see, you know Iraqi doctors or from other places. So if you only bring the skilled, you know, uh, immigrants, that's going to cause another problem.
And you're also draining those countries of their skilled people.
I mean, all the Philippine nurses here are -- there is no, no Philippine nurses left, you know, in the Philippines.
Along that same line, I, I had a gentleman who worked here in the chicken industry in Georgetown. Uh, he rented an apartment from me and, uh, I got to know him pretty well. And I asked him where he came from. I believe he came from -- my memory is that he came from Guatemala, I believe. And I asked him what he did before he came here. He was an attorney.
Is that right?
He was an attorney in his own land, but he's coming here and working in the, in the chicken industry. So, I mean, it's, it's not always the dregs that are coming here to work in our industries.= declarative
So even the unintended consequences are the drain --
Yeah, there's definitely a brain drain.
And I think the U.S. benefits from that economically. Uh, you look in the graduate schools and most of the graduate students, at least in engineering, are, are foreign students. And, uh, the Americans aren't, aren't there. They aren't, uh, they aren't in the graduate school.
But there's a counter that you buy electronic gadget from India and you make a call because it doesn't work. The other day somebody called, they thought they were talking to Illinois or someplace and they were talking to somebody in New Delhi. So there's a brain drain. And I said, I said, "Was, was that -- did it sound like an American person?" And they said, "No, it's somebody that had and English -- had an accent." And he was solving our problem in Georgetown, Delaware.
I called Verizon and I called AOL last week and both of those phone calls, one was in India and one was in the Philippines.
And if you do -- because the premise of what we're doing here is what is, you know, what happens if you do that? What's the result of this action? And what they said about bringing in just the elite, then you're draining the other countries of their knowledgebase or their people that can earn the money to pay their taxes. So then they're looking for aid and so we end up sending aid. You know, is that it or not? Yes. You know, because now they don't have the base. But where are these elite getting their, their expertise? I mean, they come here and get trained anyway. A lot of them are trained here or do graduate level work here. That's where they get their education. Uh, so then are we causing another consequence on, you know, those that, that have been here and want, want the spot in those education courses or so are we causing more or not? I mean, so that is something else that's weighed and I don't know if we discuss it here or we, or we don’t discuss it. But, I mean, there's a lot of potential of economic costs, you know, one way or the other. And, you know, when they come here with their expertise they also want the same salaries and they continue to push up the salaries and the costs like everything else, which then means the lower technical stuff is shipped overseas. Or we think, you know, it's sent over there, uh, but, you know, but sometimes it comes back and sometimes it doesn't. So, I mean, that's, that's a consequence also.
I think that's a J-1 visa.
Yeah, the --
The J-1 for the skilled labor [unintelligible].
Yeah. In the industry I used to be in we had to -- if we brought in someone with a green card, we had to show that we couldn't get that expertise somewhere else. And it was in telecommunications. And the expertise is here with, you know -- it's just it was quicker to, to do that than necessarily find someone that wanted that position necessarily. I don't -- you know, I hate to say it that way, but, uh, you know, you know, they wanted to carry a different title than programmer, so if I needed a programmer, it was easier to get somebody on a green card than to get someone who is going through an engineering school because they wanted to be system engineers writing programs.
Yeah. [Laughs] Uh, but, you know, so they -- you know, we elite ourselves, too, uh, based on our knowledge and on our education. So someone with the same education, been educated here, will take the job as the programmer, instead of the system engineer. And they end up doing the same thing.
Well, this is the land of opportunity and immigrants are taking advantage of that opportunity. Because, you know, whether it's less, it's a lot greater than, you know, the opportunities they have in their home countries. So, uh, people are taking advantage of, of any opportunity available in this country.
All right. Let's start trying to put this together, okay? As you sat here through the night -- I mean, and the way I like to do this is kind of like, you know, you just spent an hour-and-a-half really working through three different ways to talk about immigration. So I want you to take a minute, just a minute to yourself -- a little quiet time here -- and think about individually have you heard anything different? Did you hear anything that, uh, might have struck you or something like that? And then we'll go on. [Extended silence]
Maybe one of the things that a lot of the times we all make a mistake in is making generalizations. When we talk about Hispanics, we talk about cheap labor. We talk -- we think about, you know, people who do not speak English. Uh, people who are, you know, we relate them to poverty. Uh, and that's some of the mistakes that we make a lot of times when we talk about immigrants. When we talk about immigrants, a lot of the times we think illegal immigrants. So, uh, you know, there are many differences. And even talking about Hispanics, uh, or the Hispanic immigrants from different countries. We have different, different, different people. We have people from, uh -- coming from rural areas of those countries with very, uh, low education. And that's when we run into problems. When we even translate documents, they don't even read Spanish. And we also have the, the, uh, other populations who are professionals in their country and because of the economic situations in those countries, a doctor is, you know, driving a taxi and is just looking for, you know, a place where he can, uh, practice, uh, medicine. So if the United States gives the opportunity, of course, that doctor is going to take that opportunity. So there, there are a lot of different groups and we, we generalize a lot of the times, uh, you know, populations.
One of the benefits of this program, this lady directly across from me has been there, done that. She comes roughly 10 years?
And I respect and I'm in awe with people who have been there. He's worked in every chicken plant in Sussex County. So when you hear people who have been there, done that, I can't see how you could not respect and be swayed by their experience and decisions. Good program.
There certainly are no easy answers are there? We, we have, uh, discussed -- actually, in all three questions we covered some of the same information. And I don't think that, that there is an easy answer. I think it's going to be difficult. Uh, but I think we will, we'll get through this, too.
Others, individually, did you hear anything that kind of personally struck you in this conversation?
One of the things that struck me is, uh, whether you're talking about in economics, uh, whether it's, uh, somebody that's taken a job from you, uh, whether it's in education, I think you have to look back at the desire of the immigrants. Uh, they're coming here because they desire employment. They want to do the things that we Americans won't do or can't do. Uh, when we look at our education, I'd like to ask Tammy because I'm really concerned about what you said. Because in my experience, most, uh, children of immigrants that are in school have the desire to learn. That's something that a lot of our own children don't have. And is that becoming -- does that create a problem to you?
No. I didn't want -- I didn't mean to give the impression that they don't have the desire to learn.
My -- where I'm coming from with this tonight and my interest in this is they have a strong desire and they come to school very willing to absorb and to do everything they're supposed to do and learn. It's they come in at a disadvantage and the disadvantage is placed upon them, in my opinion, by this state and by the federal government. And the gap is so huge that they, that they have to, you know, close; that I have to close.
I just wondered about that because my daughter is a new teacher this year and she's teaching inner city Philadelphia.
And there -- it's her feeling that there's virtually nobody in her class that has a desire to be there. There is no parent that has a desire for them to be there and the administration doesn't help her.
So that's a, that's a –
No, I didn't -- no, it's not like that at all. And for me, it's very frustrating for me, and this is just a personal note, but I take my job very seriously and I love what I do and I think what I do is very important in the life of this community and in this country as a whole. And part of what I feel is important is that I be able to communicate with the parents of those children with whom I work. And so it's very frustrating for me to not be able to communicate. And it's very frustrating for me that, that they -- I, I have the impression that parent, the parents feel intimidated because it's a, it's a state institution that they're coming into. So it's very hard to, to, to close that gap and to become in partnership with the parents of these children. But the children themselves that I've had experience with are, are wonderful children and they, you know, they assimilate into the culture very, very well and they assimilate into the culture of the school. It's that there's so much they need to know in such little amount of time.
I think the school district is doing a wonderful job, but the sad thing I see, I have a really good friend and she has two kids and the kids go to school from 7:30 to 3:30. They go to the Boys and Girls Club after that. And then they come home and do homework after that. These kids are literally studying English, trying to learn English, trying to read, trying to do math, trying to do worksheets from 7:30 in the morning until 7:30 at night. I don't remember doing that when I was in the second or the third grade. And, and the poor kids are, are really exhausted, but they have this state test hanging over their head and their whole year long they're, they're trying to get ready for it.
Thank you for saying that word. [Laughter]
Let's do this because we're winding down. Shared sense of direction; walking through here are there any, any themes that you think you could pull out of tonight that, that if we were just talking about immigration in this country, where we need to be?
I would say that it's a very complex issue and there are social ramifications, there is political ramification and economic ramifications. Uh, we cannot put them under an umbrella. We cannot group these things. There are individually, uh, concerns in different areas. It's different in Chicago, the cities, as it is in, here in, uh, Georgetown. It's different in Florida. It's different in Texas. It's different in California. Uh, it's really hard to make a policy that covers all those things and I just don't think it can be done. What it's going to take is people sitting down, working together, trying to understand the issue that they're dealing with in their local area and resolving it.
I got the sense that we all felt they were very valuable and that I didn't hear any strong like, uh, feelings of, "No, they shouldn't be here," or "There's too many of them." It seemed like we all would welcome and are welcoming immigrants here.
It's my understanding that, uh, this program is in four locations around the United States. You're going to -- we're going to end up -- well, whatever. The point being that the federal government needs to regionalize and listen to people like this and then the legislators from the states need to recognize and almost deal with it within their geographical region. But to do a federal, uh, edict that this is the way immigration is going to happen is, uh -- well, it took 10 years to get to where we are now, just in our little locale, so it’s not going to -- we're not going to get instantaneous response by Congress voting another law.
I agree with, uh, that gentleman there. Immigration is not just a one, one thing or one decision-making process. Uh, I feel the lawmakers -- it's not the Hispanics or any other immigrants that come to this country that I feel created a problem. I think it's the people up top; the lawmakers and government and all that has really created the problem. And whenever you have immigration you can't say they are responsible. It's how the people handle the immigration issue. They're not responsible for what happened in Georgetown among the other people. It's -- I feel it's the lawmakers. The ones that are in charge of the town have neglected other people for, uh, just one people. And we should make things fair to everybody and I'm for everybody. You know, I don't care what, uh -- I don't look at people as faces, colors. I just look at you as a people and whatever the immigration issues are, you should handle them with everybody's needs, uh, in concern.
Next question, tradeoffs. Are there any tradeoffs or things that we are willing or not willing to do with regards to immigration?
I, I for one, as I said earlier, I think that we should tighten the controls on our borders. Uh, but I also said that that in itself creates other problems. It's going to create more cost, uh, to the federal government for protecting our borders. And I think the tradeoff for that is that, uh, we, as the residents of the United States, the people, Americans here, uh, are going to have to resign ourselves to the fact that there is going to be a cost to that. And, uh, we're going to have to pay higher costs, uh, for whatever the product we might be looking at or considering.
If they don't be very careful by handling the situation even in Georgetown, sooner or later they'll end up building maybe a bigger prison. Because of people not -- if people don't have better laws and do the right thing, they're going to handle things their way and before you know it, they're going to end up building more prisons and things like that for people so. . .
All right, one last question. If you were going to have this conversation again where would you start? Where would you start? If you had to start to put down a building block that you're going to have a -- you kind of covered it broadly tonight, okay? Say, say you're in charge. You know, you missed, you missed the deal. You didn't show up to the meeting and they all appointed you to the committee, where would you have your first conversation regarding immigration? What is the most important thing that you would, you would want to try to get on the table and figure it out to move forward? Where would you come back and what would you talk about?
I, I think the logical starting place would be economics, because that's where it's all going to end up. That's what's going to make the decision in the end anyway.
I think the, the, the focus needs to be on differentiating between folks who come into this country through the system as a part of our immigration policies and procedures and laws and those people who don't come in through those policies, procedures and laws. And that's where -- you know, in a town like Georgetown, that's where, uh, that's where, where the rub is. And a lot of these people who come in some other way are here because the people want them here. They want them here to work. They want them here to spend. They want them here to rent housing, uh, and with all the disadvantages that it offers to those people. And so somehow, uh, I think that's where it's not, it's not folks who come in, do their applications, come in through the process, get the right paperwork, get the right, get the right cards. Uh, I mean, sure there are, there can be oversights and folks can come in who shouldn't come in like the 9/11 people, uh, but for the most part, those folks come in and they lead decent, law abiding lives. And then you have this other group of folks who come in and most of them lead decent, law abiding lives. Uh, but because of how they come in, uh, and because they don't have, uh, the legal rights that you and I have or the person who comes in through the system has, they're abused, they're taken advantage of, uh, and it creates what I think is a, is a immoral and unethical situation. It's a, it's a, it's a justice issue.
All right. Economics?
I want to talk about documentation a little bit. Uh, uh, specifically it's in the news about driver's licenses and in our country that's almost like a passport. That is, that's the big thing that, that identifies who you are. But really all they really want is, is documentation to be able to drive a car so that they can go to work. And there should be, I think, maybe some distinction between the two documents so that, uh, they can come over here as visitors or they are applying for their citizenship and until they do that, they would receive a different type of drivers license that would be -- and I think that was suggested in California. There was utter outrage by that, but I think that sort of might bridge the gap between the being undocumented and being citizenship.
All right. Let's do this; let's wrap it up. Everybody okay? One, I'd like to thank you truly for coming out on a tough night. I don't want to be the first one to walk out the door and see how much snow is falling.