In an outrageous affront to working Americans, multi-millionaire entertainer Carlos Santana insulted Georgians, Arizonans and everyone else who thinks that enforcing U.S. immigration laws is a good idea. Last week, Santana appeared at Atlanta’s Turner Field to receive the MLB civil rights “Beacon of Change” award. Unfortunately, Santana proved how ignorant he is about civil rights’ true meaning. Born in Mexico, Santana loudly objected to Georgia and Arizona laws that require employers to process new hires through E-verify to ensure that they’re legally authorized workers. Without E-verify aliens often get jobs that otherwise would go to Americans or legal immigrants. Here, as reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is what Santana said: “I represent the human race. The people of Arizona, the people of Atlanta, Georgia, you should be ashamed of yourselves. This is about fear that people are going to steal my job. No, we ain’t. You don’t clean toilets and clean sheets, stop shucking and jiving.” Interestingly, Santana’s use of “we” aligns him with Mexico even though he’s lived in the United States for at least 50 years and has been a naturalized American citizen since 1965, the same year he graduated from San Francisco’s Mission High School. Santana continued his tirade against E-verify when he added that: “It’s an anti-American law. It’s a cruel law, actually. If you remember what it was like here with Martin Luther King and the dogs and the hoses. It’s the same thing, only it’s high tech. So let’s change it.” Although there’s not the slightest similarity, Hispanic lobbyists like Santana, Eva Longoria and the National Council of La Raza often compare illegal aliens’ efforts to get a foothold in mainstream American society with the 1960s civil rights movement. Santana and his peers are either ignorant of the facts or willfully ignore them. The “dogs and hoses” Santana referred to were used against black American citizens to deny them the civil rights to which they were legally entitled including jobs, fair wages and voting rights. On the other hand, Georgia’s new law that Santana called “cruel” protects American citizen workers against being rejected by unscrupulous employers who prefer cheap, alien workers. According to estimates, about 425,000 illegal immigrants work in Georgia. Those they displaced are disproportionately black. As for Santana’s claim that Americans don’t “clean toilets and sheets,” he’s wrong there too. An extensive 2009 Center for Immigration Studies’ report titled “Jobs Americans Won’t Do? A Detailed Look at Immigrant Employment by Occupation” found that 55 percent of maids and housekeepers are native-born. Furthermore, the CIS analysis revealed that of 465 civilian occupations, only four are dominated by immigrant labor: plasterers, agricultural sorters, tailors and personal appearance support staff. Those classifications together account for a mere one percent of the labor force. Even though Santana’s opinion should have no bearing on the nation’s immigration debate, his high profile status means that his views, especially when expressed in a public venue, will generate press and stir up anti-American sentiment. Despite the good fortune that’s befallen him since coming to America, Santana rarely expresses gratitude. Santana’s net worth, including revenues from his Mexican restaurant chain and shoe line, is conservatively estimated at $40 million. Most likely, Santana wouldn’t have amassed so much wealth in his native Mexico. Santana’s criticism should be directed at Mexico for its failure to provide for its citizens and forcing them to come to the United States where the disreputable hire them for less than the minimum wage. Joe Guzzardi has written editorial columns-mostly about immigration and related social issues – since 1986. He is a senior writing fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) and his columns are frequently syndicated in various U.S. newspapers and websites. Contact him at JoeGuzzardi@CAPSweb.org.
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