Monday, June 11, 2007
Felipe Aguirre is deputy mayor of Maywood, California. The town, which is 97% Hispanic, is a self-declared sanctuary for 'undocumented' immigrants.
The town of Maywood has declared itself a "sanctuary" for illegal immigrants
We believe that no human being can be described as illegal.
These are people who work hard, pay taxes, buy houses and keep on the right side of the law for fear of being deported - they are part of the fabric of America.
Many have families and have been contributing members of community for years. But the debate is now affecting family units. Many people who do not have the right documents have children who are US citizens. These families need to stay united.
That is why we have seen so many young people taking part in the demonstrations, fighting for the rights of their parents.
These are people pay their taxes through the payroll system, but do not qualify to receive any benefits at the end of the work week. And, while they pay sales taxes and property taxes, they do not qualify for any of the benefits that are associated with this, such as healthcare.
There is a tremendous amount of hypocrisy surrounding the debate. So many businesses are doing well on the back of undocumented workers - from the oranges that are picked in Florida to the tomatoes harvested in Illinois.
Yet, their basic rights, such as the right to a safe workplace and fair treatment, are not protected. Undocumented workers never file complaints for injuries sustained at work for fear of being sacked.
Rich families in Los Angeles employ undocumented nannies to look after their children. They also employ undocumented housekeepers, cleaners and gardeners - many of whom have keys to their houses.
How can we be called criminals when we hold the keys to the houses of some of the richest people in the state?