Immigrants make it all work
Immigrants make it all work
Date: Monday, August 11, 2008 5:19 PM
<<<<< JOB DESTRUCTION NEWSLETTER No. 1898 -- 8/11/2008 >>>>>
The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, NY ran a series of articles on immigration
that led me to suspect that the author, Sara Foss, was more of a hack writer
than a journalist. I questioned Foss's credentials as a journalist on their
online comments section but my comments weren't up for long before the
newspaper removed them. One of the editors claimed that they want open
discussions of the issues, and used that as a rationale to censor my comments.
George Orwell is alive and well!
There are numerous distortions and factually incorrect statements in Foss's
articles, but her shortage shouting might be the worst part. Wouldn't
journalists and editors with common sense question how there could be
shortages of American workers in so many different professions?
Worker shortages according to Sara Foss:
* nurses and other health care workers
* physicians and surgeons
* computer software engineers
* university professors
* horse racing
* farming and agriculture
* low-wage, low-skill jobs
* skilled workers throughout the United States
Apparently Sara Foss has been getting lots of negative feedback after
authoring those articles. In response to her detractors she wrote "See you in
the breadlines, sister!". After researching into her background and reading
that awful commentary I have concluded that she gets some kind of sadistic
pleasure out of writing things that anger people.
Some industries depend on international recruiting efforts
Group helps people in U.S. illegally
See you in the breadlines, sister!
Some industries depend on international recruiting efforts
By Jill BryceSara Foss
Immigrants make it all work
Marco Tomakin and El Bandalan moved to Albany from the Philippines in 2003 to
be nurses at Albany Medical Center. Bandalan continues as a nurse while
Tomakin, who studied both law and nursing in the Philippines, is an attorney
specializing in immigration issues. CAPITAL REGION When Marco Tomakin met his
wife-to-be, El Bandalan, she had already signed a contract to become a nurse
at Albany Medical Center.
So he signed one, too.
The couple moved to Albany from the Philippines in 2003. They had both trained
in government-run nursing schools in their home country, and the idea of
making more money in the U.S. appealed to them.
They weren t alone.
Since 2002, 341 Filipino nurses have come to work at Albany Medical Center,
and there are 250 Filipino nurses now on staff. This hasn t happened by
accident; the hospital has actively recruited nurses from the Philippines.
It s just one of Albany Medical Center s strategies for dealing with a
chronic, nationwide shortage in nurses, according to Greg McGarry, a spokesman
for the hospital. "At any given time, we have 60 to 70 open positions," he
Hospitals throughout the country have successfully recruited nurses from the
Philippines, which is why Albany Medical Center decided to give it a try,
McGarry said. "We were aware that in the Philippines there are a number of
well-trained nurses looking for work," he said. "They re fluent in English.
They assimilate quite readily. Most of them have adjusted well with our
Immigrants can be found working in almost every sector of the Capital Region s
labor force. Many of them occupy low-wage, low-skill jobs, but there s another
group of immigrants, one that s highly educated and well-paid, who are
recruited to work here by businesses and schools unable to find enough
qualified Americans to fill their work force. Though only 5 percent of the
upstate population is foreign born, about 20 percent of the professors in
upstate universities are immigrants. In health care, the fastest growing
sector of the upstate economy, immigrants make up 35 percent of physicians and
surgeons. Immigrants also comprise 20 percent of computer software engineers.
The University at Albany aggressively recruits scientists from overseas.
Lynn Videka, vice president for research at the University at Albany, said
building and maintaining a high-caliber science program requires a global
perspective. "Science today is an international enterprise," she said. "No
longer is the science of the world being solely produced by the United
Videka said the University at Albany identifies promising scientists based on
their work, and then begins the process of recruiting them. "If we re looking
for someone with experience in cancer biology, we ll look at the top journals
and identify people who are doing the best work," she said.
"Sometimes those people are U.S. nationals, and sometimes they re people [from
After Sept. 11, it became tougher to recruit scientist from overseas, Videka
said. "The level of scrutiny and restriction is higher," she said.
"The Department of Homeland Security has quite a backlog. It s harder to
recruit faculty and staff because of the restrictions." As a result, the
University at Albany has hired a full-time administrative staff person to help
their overseas recruits get the H-1B Visas they need to come to America and
work. Sometimes, she said, the scientists also hire private attorneys to help
them with this process.
Still, some scientists have opted not to come. Recently the University at
Albany wanted to hire a Canadian chemist whose wife was about to have a baby.
Unsure whether he would be able to obtain visas for his family, and concerned
that travel between the U.S. and Canada was becoming more difficult, he
decided to stay in Canada, Videka said.
There s a shortage of U.S. scientists, Videka said, and so it s not as if
scientists from overseas are displacing Americans. Even without the tougher
restrictions, it would still be more difficult to recruit from overseas, as
other countries, such as China and India, as well as the European Union, have
made major investments in science. China, for instance, has announced that it
is creating 200 research universities.
"Science is a worldwide economic engine," Videka said.
Albany Medical Center has also felt the effects of tighter immigration
policies. "There s a real backlog," McGarry said. As a result, the hospital s
recruitment has slowed; so far, only one nurse has come from the Philippines
this year, though staff met with about 60 interested nurses in January.
McGarry said Albany Medical Center is waiting to see whether things change
under a new presidential administration before it steps up recruiting from the
Overseas recruiting is particularly common in high-tech jobs, such as
engineering and biotechnology, said Jonathan Grosso, communications chair for
the Capital Region Recruiters Network. There s a shortage of skilled workers
throughout the world, but it s particularly acute in the U.S., he said. "It s
become even more of an issue because the labor market is tighter, and it will
become even more of an issue as the baby boomers retire," he said.
Work is the biggest reason why immigrants come to the Capital Region.
Singh, who owns a gas station near Albany, said he and his family moved from
Punjab, India, to the United States when he was 18. Like millions of
immigrants, they saw this as the land of opportunity.
"It is a way to better your life, better your education. It really is the land
of opportunity," said Singh, who asked that his full name be withheld.
Singh said many people assume he has little education. Yet he earned a
business degree at the University at Albany, and was a buyer at General
Electric Power Systems. He said his family came to the United States so he
could get the best education he could. Six years ago, he became a U.S.
citizen. He says he s assimilated into the culture and considers himself more
American than Indian.
Talk to a dozen immigrants and they ll each have their a unique story of why
they came to the U.S.
Juan G. George moved to New York City, where his father s sisters lived, from
the Dominican Republic when he was just 15. Eventually he moved to Albany.
Today he lives in Albany, and is the operations manager at the Desmond Hotel.
Debra Cole moved to the United States from Trinidad for a better life.
After five years, she earns $12.15 an hour as a nanny.
Several industries in the Capital Region, including horse racing and
agriculture, rely on immigrants for seasonal labor. In recent years, these
industries are having more trouble finding workers because of federal
crackdowns on illegal immigrants. In farming, immigrants with visas and
undocumented workers together make up 80 percent of seasonal workers in
upstate New York, according to a report by the Fiscal Policy Institute in
About 8,000 workers are needed to pick the apple crop in New York, and it s
uncertain whether there will be enough workers this year.
"They are crucial to the apple industry," said Jim Allen, president of the New
York Apple Association. "With [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] raids
stepped up, there is no extra available help at this time." The workers
biggest crime, Allen said, is that they might not be 100 percent legal. But
they are law-abiding, and they work hard. "No Americans want these jobs," he
said. "I can boldly say that. It s seasonal work from Sept. 1 to Nov. 1. It s
for three months. It s hard work, and as many hours as they can legally work.
It s difficult work. Not too many want to do it."
The state Department of Labor wants farmers to consider domestic workers
before hiring foreigners, and is trying to facilitate connections between New
York farmers and workers in Puerto Rico. If farmers can t find U.S.
citizens to cover their labor needs, they can hire through a federal program,
the H-2A Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which allows foreign agricultural
visas for seasonal work. To participate in the program, growers have to pay an
average rate of $9.80 an hour and are required to pay transportation for
workers, round trip, from their home country.
The majority of people who work on the backstretch at Saratoga Race Course are
immigrants, said NYRA spokesman John Lee.
"Could we operate without them? No. They are essential to racing at Saratoga,"
Lee said, adding that immigration issues are causing a shortage of backstretch
The New York State Racing Association doesn t employ the backstretch workers;
they are employed by the trainers. NYRA gives them credentials, and they must
be licensed by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.
There are cases when someone provides false information to a trainer, but the
overwhelming majority of the backstretch workers are here legally, Lee said.
The backstretch workers are the grooms, who provide hands-on care of the
horses, clean up stalls, carry out used bedding and walk the horses after
they re exercised to cool them down. Most backstretch workers come from Mexico
and Central America.
"It s a heavily Spanish speaking group," Lee said. "I have been here 17 years.
I haven t seen a big change."
Luis Gonzalez, 38, has been coming to Saratoga Springs from Santiago, Chile,
to work the backstretch for the past six years. He comes, he said, "for
opportunity. Everybody comes here for money." A commercial engineer by
training, he said that the glut of engineers in his home country makes it
difficult to find work there, and that working the backstretch is more
"It s better money," Gonzalez said.
The people of Saratoga Springs have been welcoming, Gonzalez said. "The people
are nice," he said. "I don t think anybody is racist or dangerous." But he
said he has no plans to move to the U.S. permanently, and that his wife, who
is pregnant, and 6-year-old daughter still live in Chile. "I love my country,"
This summer Gonzalez is attending English classes at Saratoga Springs United
Methodist Church. These classes are sponsored by the Latino Community Advocacy
Program at the Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council. Many of the
students work at the track, but others work in restaurants and other local
Like Gonzalez, Bandalan s earnings support family at home; she regularly sends
money to her mother in the Philippines. Most of the Filipino nurses do this,
"We send money home and it has a tremendous impact on the economy," Tomakin
said. "It keeps it afloat." A nurse in the U.S., he said, earns more than a
specialist in the Philippines. "In a private hospital in the Philippines, a
nurse can make about $220 a month. At Albany Medical Center, nurses earn $220
a day," he explained.
"There s more opportunity here," Bandalan said.
Tomakin and Bandalan said it s easy for Filipinos to adjust to life in the
U.S. "The Philippines were a colony of the states for so long, that there s a
well-entrenched relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines," Tomakin
Bandalan still works as a nurse at Albany Medical Center. Tomakin, however, is
now an immigration attorney with an office in Delmar; the vast majority of his
clients are Filipinos. He said he became an attorney in the Philippines after
finishing nursing school. "I wanted to do something worthwhile, so in my free
time I went to law school," he recalled. When one of his patients at Albany
Medical Center learned of his legal background, the patient, who happened to
be an attorney, encouraged Tomakin to take the bar exam and become an attorney
in the U.S.
The relationship between doctors and nurses is a little different in the U.S.,
Bandalan said. "In the Philippines, we looked up to the doctors and we always
had to call them doctor," she said. "Here, the attendings are open to being
called by their first names. They want to encourage teamwork."
Overall, Bandalan and Tomakin are happy here.
"You miss certain foods, certain things," Tomakin said. "I feel homesick at
times. But here it s a new experience, and I also enjoy it."
Group helps people in U.S. illegally
CAPITAL REGION -- Pedro was not the man police were looking for.
"New Neighbors" is a three-day series looking at immigration in the Capital
To read Sunday's first part of this series, click here and here.
It didn t matter. He was arrested anyway.
He was pulled over last winter while driving through Albany. Five police cars
surrounded his vehicle and he was ordered to step out of his car.
"When I got out of the car, they held guns up to me," he said in Spanish,
through a translator. "They pulled me out of the car and threw me on the
The police were searching, Pedro later learned, for a man wanted in connection
with the robbery of a convenience store; the suspect had been described as
Hispanic. But when police brought Pedro to the store, the manager said they
had the wrong person. "They asked her three times," Pedro recalled. "They
said, Are you sure it isn t him? ?" The manager said no, it wasn t him, but
Pedro s problems were just beginning.
Pedro, 26, is an illegal immigrant. To protect his identity, The Gazette is
using a pseudonym.
He s lived in the Capital Region for five years after moving here from Mexico
in the hopes of earning money to support his family. He was charged with
possessing a forged instrument -- a Mexican driver s license -- and possessing
a weapon, the switchblade police found in the trunk of his car where Pedro
keeps the tools he uses for work. He spent the next five weeks in jail
wondering whether he would be deported.
It s possible that Pedro would still be languishing in jail, or back in
Mexico, if a new grassroots group called the New Sanctuary Movement hadn t
come to his aid. A coalition of labor and religious groups, the New Sanctuary
Movement aims to help immigrants, particularly those who are in the U.S.
illegally and run into
trouble. When coordinator Fred Boehrer learned of Pedro s plight -- the two
men are friends -- the group sprang into action.
The New Sanctuary Movement group in Albany is part of a larger movement.
Today there are more than 20 New Sanctuary chapters, all founded within the
past couple of years, scattered throughout the United States.
The Albany chapter of the New Sanctuary Movement has been meeting since spring
2007, when immigration raids in Coeymans, Valatie and Schodack resulted in the
arrest of about three dozen illegal immigrants.
Members say they formed the Albany chapter largely in response to stricter
immigration laws that they consider overly punitive and harsh, as well as
public discussion about the issue that they view as xenophobic and ignorant.
The New Sanctuary Movement isn t exactly new.
In the 1980s, similar groups formed with the goal of assisting Latin American
immigrants fleeing violence and war in their home countries; at that time, the
movement was known as the Sanctuary Movement.
group s goals
Boehrer said the Albany group has several goals. These goals include providing
illegal immigrants with legal assistance and practical support such as
transportation and information about health care, as well as educating Capital
Region residents about immigrants and visiting immigrants in jail.
The group also plans to provide "radical hospitality" -- safe places to stay,
sponsored by religious congregations such as churches and synagogues
-- to illegal immigrants who have run afoul of the U.S. Department of Homeland
There have been cases of radical hospitality in other cities, such as Chicago,
where an illegal immigrant named Flor Crisostomo is living in Adalberto United
Methodist Church, but none here. If a house of worship were to provide radical
hospitality, New Sanctuary members would contact Homeland Security and inform
them of the immigrant s whereabouts.
The Sanctuary groups of the 1980s provided immigrants with shelter, but kept
the locations secret. The new movement, Boehrer said, strives for openness in
the hopes of sparking a conversation about immigration and publicly
challenging the country s immigration laws.
"[Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents are very leery of raiding
religious congregations with the purpose of arresting and deporting people,"
he said. "That s part of what the movement is about. As religious
organizations, we have the ability to provide a safe place, to welcome a
stranger, the immigrant, in a way that s practical and prophetic. .?.?. As a
Christian, part of my faith tradition is to offer assistance to immigrants and
welcome the stranger. There are times when what our faith teaches us is in
conflict with what the country s laws are."
Not everyone supports the mission of the New Sanctuary Movement.
"It s accommodating people who violate the law," said Bob Dane, a spokesman
for the Washington, D.C.-based Federation for Immigration Reform, a group that
supports stricter immigration laws. "These churches are overlooking one
concept of charity -- you can t be charitable with other people s resources.
In this shaky economy, it s befuddling why some want to provide additional
resources and incentives and rewards for people who don t have a right to be
"These churches are not above the law, and they don t make immigration
policy," Dane said. "Just because you don t like the law doesn t mean you can
He wondered whether religious congregations jeopardize their tax exempt
status; federal law prohibits tax exempt organizations from becoming involved
in partisan activities.
Dane said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has the right to go into
religious congregations and make arrests, but would run the risk of turning
illegal immigrants seeking shelter in religious congregations into martyrs if
it did so.
But he said law-breaking should never be overlooked, because it gives the
impression that illegal behavior will be rewarded.
The New Sanctuary Movement chapter in Albany meets regularly at Emmaus House,
a Catholic Worker house in Albany s South End founded by Boehrer.
Worldwide, there are about 200 Catholic Worker houses; these houses are run by
volunteers, who advocate for peace and worker s rights and provide people in
need with temporary housing.
The meetings generally draw between 10 and 15 people from throughout the
Capital Region. Discussions are practical; members talk about what they can do
to help immigrants -- at one meeting, a member wondered whether it would be
possible to establish a bail program to help illegal immigrants make bond; at
another, the need for volunteers to serve as translators is mentioned -- and
regular updates on Pedro, and what he needs, are provided.
The group is interested in providing legal assistance to immigrants, whenever
possible, and at one meeting a local immigration attorney walked members
through basic paperwork such as the Department of Homeland Security s
Application for Naturalization and a general intake form that asks immigrants
questions about their family, their reasons for being in the U.S., and their
work and educational history.
Earlier this month, the New Sanctuary Movement sponsored a free immigration
law training that drew about 35 people. They discussed what happens when an
immigrant is arrested, what happens at immigration court and what questions to
ask when visiting an immigrant in jail.
For New Sanctuary members, these are not hypothetical situations.
It s not uncommon for people to come to the group s meetings with an urgent
request for help. At one meeting, a woman no one had ever met before dropped
in and said a member of her church had been arrested; though she had lived in
the U.S. for nearly 20 years, she was an illegal immigrant and had already
spent several months in jail.
While church members visited her, the woman said, they weren t sure how to
help. New Sanctuary members made some inquiries. Within the week the woman,
originally from Africa, had been released from jail on her own recognizance.
Albany attorney Steve Downs regularly attends New Sanctuary meetings. He said
his support for the group is driven by long-standing friendships with
immigrants; over the years, his family has sponsored Polish refugees, a
Vietnamese boat person and an Iranian family looking to build new lives in the
"I ve always liked immigrants," he said. "They re wonderful, hopeful people.
They re always looking for something better. They re fun to work with, and
they connect you with the rest of the world."
Downs told his church, St. Ann s/St. John s in Albany, about Pedro s situation
during Mass, and managed to raise about $1,000 toward his bail.
He said the New Sanctuary Movement is effective because it focuses on people,
rather than lawmakers and immigration policy; when people hear Pedro s story,
they want to help.
"One of the things I like about Fred is that he s starting at the bottom,
rather than at the top," he said. "At St. Ann s, we said, We ve got a guy and
his wife and kid who are about to be deported, and all of a sudden everyone s
saying, I ll give. That s the power of starting at the bottom."
"You can t say no when a person is there asking you for something,"
said Martha Schultz, the communications coordinator for the Labor-Religion
Coalition of New York State and a regular at New Sanctuary meetings.
"The focus is really on people," said Rabbi Michael Feinberg, who is involved
in the New Sanctuary Movement in New York City and heads the Greater New York
Labor-Religion Coalition. "The immigration system in this country is
completely broken and dysfunctional. There s a national humanitarian crisis
with families being broken up. With the collapse of comprehensive immigration
reform, something needs to be done to respond to the situation. We can t just
tell these families that there will be a solution in three years."
In New York City, religious congregations affiliated with the New Sanctuary
Movement are housing seven families.
"Most of them," Feinberg said, "are facing deportation."
Though a number of religious congregations are involved in the New Sanctuary
Movement in Albany, so far none have decided to go public as official New
Sanctuary congregations. Doing so, Boehrer said, requires a process of
discernment that takes time.
Pat Beetle, a member of the Albany Friends Meeting, said the group plans to
become a New Sanctuary congregation; she recently picked up pledge forms to
The Albany Friends Meeting was involved in the sanctuary movement of the
1980s, Beetle said, and assisted refugees who fled to the U.S. "It seems like
the New Sanctuary Movement is a natural extension of that," she said.
"We plan to go forward in publicly identifying ourselves as part of the
The New Sanctuary Movement chapter in Albany has created laminated, wallet-
sized cards and started distributing them to immigrants; immigrants can give
these cards, called Rights Cards, to police officers if they are detained.
The cards say, in both English and Spanish, "I am giving you this card because
I do not wish to speak to you or have any further contact with you.
I choose to exercise my right to remain silent and to refuse to answer your
questions. If you arrest me, I will continue to exercise my right to remain
silent and to refuse to answer your questions. I want to speak with a lawyer
before answering your questions. I want to contact this
organization: Emmaus House."
Marco Tomakin, a local immigration attorney who is originally from the
Philippines, has gotten involved in the New Sanctuary Movement.
He said he understands what new immigrants are going through, and that he
wants to help. "I don t really buy into the term illegal immigrant," he said.
"I know and understand the feelings of immigrants, and how it is to earn money
and send money home."
"It is good that there is a discussion about immigration," Tomakin said.
"It s a fundamental issue. We should talk about it. If you listen to the news,
there s always an immigration issue or angle. But I think the discussion
should be responsible."
help for pedro
Boehrer learned that Pedro had been arrested when Pedro s wife contacted
Emmaus House to say that he had not returned home. Boehrer called the
hospital, the jail and the police station before finally locating Pedro, who
was on his way to his arraignment.
As Pedro s case wound its way through the system, Boehrer did some research.
Concerned that the plea deal approved by Pedro s public defender would hurt
his immigration status, Boehrer found another attorney who was willing to take
Pedro s case pro bono. Eventually, Pedro s charges, both misdemeanors, were
pleaded down to disorderly conduct, a violation. This was important, Boehrer
said, because pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges would have hurt Pedro s
New Sanctuary members raised the $5,000 needed to cover Pedro s immigration
bond, mostly from religious congregations and other concerned individuals, and
he was released and allowed to return to his wife and young child. Boehrer
recently drove him to Buffalo for an immigration hearing, and he will appear
before the judge again in the fall.
Pedro is a soft-spoken man who comes from an area of Mexico that has a high
unemployment rate; he attended school for four years before leaving to support
his family. (He is one of seven children.) In the U.S., he s worked in
landscaping, construction and on dairy farms. He said he would like to stay in
the U.S., if possible.
"The more I stay here, the more I like it," he said.
See you in the breadlines, sister!
By Sara Foss
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Sometimes I can tell when an article is going to make people angry.
So it was last week, when the Gazette ran a series of articles, some of which
I wrote, looking at local immigration trends. I knew these stories would make
people angry, because immigration is sort of a hot button issue right now, and
people get angry when you write about hot button issues. In general, I don t
set out to make people angry, but I don t really care if I do, either, as I ve
been writing things that make people angry since high school, and people are
not going to shun me when I go to my locker, which is what they did in high
school, or organize a campus-wide protest, which was always a possibility in
college. These days, feedback from angry readers usually comes in the form of
angry e-mails, and they re a lot easier to deal with.
When I arrived at work Monday, my inbox was full of angry messages, just as I
suspected it would be, but these angry messages were unlike any I d ever
received before. Most of them suggested that I wasn t really an American --
"How does it feel to be a modern-day Tokyo Rose?" asked one student of
history, in a message that sent me scrambling to Wikipedia to learn more about
Tokyo Rose, who I ve concluded I don t really have all that much in common
with -- and that in writing these stories I had betrayed my country. Of
course, I found it impossible to take any of this seriously, since being
accused of ruining the world didn t seem all that different from being accused
of ruining the morale at my high school, though perhaps I should start wearing
a flag pin on my lapel, just to appear more American-like. "What is a real
American, anyway?" I wondered, before deciding that this is exactly the sort
of question that keeps the discourse in this country at a playground level,
and opting just to follow my mom s old advice about ignoring the mean kids at
school. After all, my varsity letter jacket never made anyone think I had a
lot of school spirit.
The angry e-mails also suggested that I would soon be unemployed, because an
immigrant with a H1B visa would arrive to take my job at the Gazette, and
these e-mails marked the first time angry readers have exulted in my future
unemployment. "Pretty darn soon you too will be out of job," one person wrote.
"Newspapers are failing across the country. Maybe that s what it will take to
get across to you morons who can t see beyond the end of your nose. Your
repeated efforts to undermine your own country and fellow citizens is
disgraceful. You don t mind giving your own job away to foreigners ... do you?
See you in the breadlines Sister!" This may be the funniest angry e-mail I ve
ever received, and since I have an annoying habit of repeating certain phrases
and expressions over and over again until I get sick of them (just a few
months ago I couldn t stop saying, "I love you, but I m not in love with you,"
but that s a story for another day) I keep turning to my co-workers and
saying, "See you in the breadlines, sister!" I m sure it s getting pretty
annoying, but I just can t stop myself.
Still, this message, more than the others, tapped into my basic fear, one
shared by journalists throughout the country, that my newspaper is about to
fold or lay me off, and that I ll soon be standing in a breadline somewhere.
And since I hate it when someone else gets the last laugh, I hope that never
happens. Not that I m too worried about running into the angry e-mailers while
standing in the breadline, because it s pretty clear that most of them don t
live around here, and that these stories were distributed widely on-line by
anti-immigration groups. The first angry letter we printed in the paper came
not from Schenectady or Guilderland or Cobleskill, but from Arlington, Va.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article about how a local group that assists
immigrants and refugees was sponsoring classes designed to familiarize their
clients with American laws, and this resulted in an angry call from someone
who threw around words like bias and agenda. "Do you have some sort of
animosity toward immigrants?" this person demanded, and of course it s enough
to make your head spin, being accused of hating immigrants one week and hating
America the next. I shrugged off most of this woman s criticisms, but then she
suggested that I was a bad writer, and you know what? That s the one thing
that really got under my skin, because we writers are a vain and sensitive
lot, and it doesn t take much to convince me that everything I ve ever written
is complete crap. But accuse me of hating America? Well, that s just so absurd
that it doesn t bother me at all.
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