When the issue of illegal immigration comes up in conversation, people often wonder why I’m such a staunch supporter of securing our borders and reforming the immigration system. Those who live outside of the southwest don’t know what illegal immigration does to a community. But I do.
Setting the Stage
I grew up in Southern California, about 90 miles North of San Diego, in what is known as the Inland Empire. My parents moved to a small town where there was one stop sign and hardly any development taking place. Over time, people moved in and the suburban lifestyle followed suit. Soon there were grocery stores, gas stations and even a Walmart. Now, the city has more than quadrupled since I left two years ago.
But here’s the thing: the town I grew up in is flooded with illegal aliens as well as their kids (or what people like to refer to as “anchor babies”).
I saw my town transform in my short lifetime. When I was younger, the kids in the neighborhood played together. The parents knew each other. And, overall, we looked out for each other.
Over time, that changed.
Families began to leave the area one-by-one. It seemed like someone was always moving in and out of the houses around ours. The number of original owners in the neighborhood eventually dwindled down to my parents and two other families. The new families kept to themselves, mostly because of language barriers. In fact, we didn’t even know who our neighbors actually were because of the number of families that were crammed in under the same roof.
When the recession hit in 2008, there were houses in the neighborhood that were foreclosed on. They sat vacant for years with trash accumulating in the front yard and “for sale” signs dangling from a halfway secured real estate signpost. In fact, when news stations covered the housing bubble they often referred to a development in my small town. Anchors talked about the number of foreclosures and people who were upside down in their house. The town I called home was the national poster child for the housing bubble.
The vivacious neighborhood I remember changed over time to where, now, practically no neighbors talk to one another. In fact, you’re lucky if you get a nod or a wave of acknowledgment from the people who live near you as you drive or walk by. Families keep to themselves. But why is that? Is it a language barrier? Is it a cultural difference? Is it fear of deportation?
The lack of education and skills have turned the area into a hotbed for warehouses. Amazon. Ross. Wayfair. Lowe’s. Whirlpool. Any large retailer you can name, they probably have a warehouse nearby. These warehouses line the main drag and side streets just like shopping centers do. Getting a job at one of the local warehouses seems to be the main goal for the city’s population. Why? Because they pay decently for a blue collar job that requires little to no formal education.
Because the majority of illegal aliens lack any skills, doing manual labor is the norm, which is why warehouses were the perfect fit for the area. What’s better than getting cheap labor? Getting cheap labor that can easily be replaced.
On top of it all, about 99 percent of my high school was on free lunch because their family couldn't afford to pay $2 a day for lunch. In fact, if you were one of the kids who didn't get free lunch (like me), you were looked at as an outcast.
One of the most interesting aspects of living in a community that is plagued by illegal immigration: people posting about DUI checkpoints on social media to warn family and friends not to go in the area out of fear of being arrested and deported.
Back in 2014, my mom was in a severe car accident that left her car totaled. The other driver, an illegal alien, was at fault. I detailed the ordeal in a post for PolitiChicks and talked about the craziness that ensued:
“Beth! I’ve been in a bad accident,” my mom sobbed between tears and heavy breaths. “Get here…quick.”
When I answered the phone, I wasn’t expecting to hear what I did. I had talked to my mom 20 minutes before she was in this accident. She was going to leave work and get us Starbucks on the way home. I thought her follow-up call was to tell me Starbucks ran out of Chai Tea, or something along those lines.
Boy was I wrong.
I was in yoga pants and a t-shirt. I was so distraught that I forgot to put a bra on – big mistake, by the way – and I almost forgot to lock the door when I left.
The two miles between my house and the scene of the accident seemed like the longest drive of my life. I heard sirens behind me and my heart began to race.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
I looked in the rear view mirror as I pulled over. They were headed in the same direction as me.
Oh no, I thought.
As soon as the ambulance was in front of me, I followed them through the main drag in town. I called my boyfriend for some assurance and to calm me down. Of course, he tried being serene. At the time, I didn’t appreciate it and hung up on him.
When I got to the light, I went to turn left. The ambulance turned right and my heart calmed a bit. I sighed a small sigh of relief. As I got closer, I tried to call my mom. She had taken a back road, an area of frontage roads I wasn’t familiar with.
Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring.
My adrenaline started pumping again. I was scared I was going to find her unconscious, head over the steering wheel, bleeding.
I was bracing myself for anything…and everything.
When I turned onto the road of the accident, I saw a sheriff fly down the road. My heart started racing again. Images of losing my mom came to mind.
I came up to the accident scene and was relieved. She was standing next to her SUV. She wasn’t visibly hurt – or bleeding – from what I could see. I parked my car in the intersection near hers. I looked at her car and was appalled.
“Are you okay?” I asked, in disbelief. All of it felt like a really bad movie.
My mom was clearly in shock. “Yeah…I’m fine,” she said, still shook up.
I look down the road. About 50 yards away, a Nissan Altima sat at an angle in the middle of the road. A biker who had seen the accident was sitting on his bike by my Mom’s vehicle.
“Who are you?” I asked, confused as to his involvement.
“I was driving by and saw what happened. Looks like the guy driving may have gone to the bar up the road and then got behind the wheel,” he began to explain. “Accidents happen all the time here. They go up there, drink and hang out.”
Immediately, I was angry, outraged even. Was my mom just hit by a drunk driver? I looked around at the scene. It was definitely plausible. There were at least 60 yards of skid marks and his car was further up the road.
Fast-forward an hour. The sheriff conducting the investigation gave her the police report. Her and I looked over as we waited for the tow truck. In the box titled “license” the officer wrote “ID – SUS.”
“Does he have a suspended license?” my mom asked me, pointing to the paper.
I looked closer at the paper. It was the only logical conclusion to come to. I took the paper and went to the police car where the officer was sitting.
“Did he have a suspended licenses?” I asked, pointing to the box.
“He didn’t have a license,” the officer replied. “I wrote that on there to force him to get a license.”
Immediately, I was outraged.
“Why wasn’t he arrested if he was driving without a license?!” I asked, angry and in disbelief.
“I could have arrested him and put him in jail for three days but it wouldn’t have changed anything,” the officer explained. “His car is totaled. It’s not like he’s going to be driving.”
Are you freaking kidding me? I thought, biting my lip. Why the heck did I ever bother to get a drivers license? Apparently it doesn’t matter whether or not you have one.
“He’s going to have to show up in court. He’s facing some really serious and hefty fines.” The officer could clearly see the outrage in my face. At this point, he was trying to reassure me and calm me down. “Him not having a license is a misdemeanor. And what he’s facing in court…it’s not going to be cheap…or pretty.”
I sighed and went back towards my mom. She heard the entire thing. She was in disbelief but understood where the officer was coming from.
“Beth, think about it,” she said. “Why have him sit in jail? The jail is overpopulated as it is. There’s no room for him.”
That’s not the point, I thought to myself. He broke the law. He should have to pay for breaking the law.
I didn’t say anything but let it go.
Later that night I began to research the insurance company of the man who hit my mom. No one – including the officers – had heard of the insurance company this guy had. Personally, I was confused as to how someone could have insurance if they didn’t have a driver’s license. It was incredibly fishy…and it sounded extremely illegal.
After doing some Googling, I was no longer angry. I was livid. The guy was clearly an illegal alien who was playing the system. His insurance company specializes in insuring Mexican cars that are traveling to the United States and Canada. Um…that’s dandy and all, but this guy had a California license plate, a California ID card and a California address. What kind of logical conclusion can we make about these facts?
Not only did my mom have to purchase a new vehicle but she’s also incurring all of the medical and insurance expenses while this guy gets a slap on the wrist. He’s free to do what he wants. But wait. He has to show up for court.
Let’s be honest here. Does he have any incentive to show up for court? Absolutely not. If he was a law-abiding citizen he would be here legally and he would have a drivers license.
This is just another very tiny pixel in the giant immigration picture. What this guy did is a common tactic used in order to deter cops from towing illegal alien’s cars. These insurance companies exist to fulfill insurance requirements. Basically, an illegal alien can pay a small fee – usually $50 a year – and they’re given a piece of paper saying they’re insured.
When illegal aliens receive insurance, they aren’t concerned about being reported to ICE. They’re concerned about having their car towed. If they’re going through a DUI checkpoint, officers are checking for intoxicated individuals and those without a license or insurance. They’re not checking someone’s immigration status, or lack there of.
It’s a shame that we live in America, where American citizens are punished for being just that…American. We live in a nation that rewards lawbreakers and punishes the law abiding.
My mom’s accident is just one story in millions. This is an everyday occurrence, especially in border states.
My story and my experiences, sadly, are not unique to just me or the community I grew up in. Stories like mine happen to everyday Americans who live in border states. And the closer you are to the border, the more intense your stories and experiences become.