Outstanding Undocumented Immigrants
The winner of the prestigious John T. Harrison Award for 2018, the top award given to a Chesapeake College graduate, was officially awarded to Sofiah Ali at Chesapeake’s commencement exercises May 17. She gave an inspiring and courageous address where she announced publicly she is an undocumented immigrant, the daughter of immigrants. She spoke of her ongoing struggles and fears arising from her status, and said: “In order to prove to myself and those around me the misconception about undocumented immigrants, I had to work 100 times harder.”
It’s been my experience that immigrants often set the standard for work ethic and hard work as well as achievement and accomplishment. I have taught mathematics at Chesapeake since 2002, and seen witnessed outstanding effort and performance by many immigrants, documented or undocumented, sometimes eclipsing many of their counterparts who have enjoyed the privilege of coming from a long line of generations of American citizens. Sofiah is a great example of this. My observations aren’t limited to the confines of the college. I witness hard working dedicated immigrants doing much of the work around the Shore, including but not limited to landscaping, lawn care, roofing, construction, farming, and our seafood industry. Their work ethic is exceptional. Many are undocumented or, as in the case of the crab industry, here on temporary work visas.
Examples like these are refreshing counterpoints to Donald Trump’s relentless disparagement, hate-mongering and attacks against undocumented immigrants. He has riled his supporters up by convincing them undocumented immigrants have been taking jobs from them, yet I have yet to see his supporters rushing in to fill the voids he created in the labor forces of crab pickers (severely damaging the crabbing industry here) or the farms that rely on seasonal workers that are also hurting from Trump’s draconian immigration policies.
There are roughly 12.5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., and we all rely on and benefit from them being here. For some reason, Mr. Trump and many of his Republican enablers can’t get past their bigotry and ideology to accept this. We should all speak up for immigrants that make our country great and fight back against anti-immigrant ideology and fear-mongering.
I want to state for the record that while I voted to approve this budget, I have mixed feelings about it. Public safety and security in the education system are foremost on the minds of most citizens this year, and I agree.
We did not get here on our own. The effect of a downturn in the economy and housing starts goes back to the mid-2000s. The huge loss of highway user revenues affected our infrastructure and those effects linger in the county. I am hopeful that the recent legislation adding more highway user revenue for local government will help us rebound.
I have always opposed tax increases and I oppose this year, as properties in District 4 were reassessed upward. Many people on fixed incomes, like senior citizens and those who work multiple jobs, struggle to pay their bills.
The last increase here in Dorchester was seven year ago in the fiscal 2012 budget, but any increase is still an increase. My hope is that it will be at least another seven years before taxes are increased again. I will always remain committed to holding the line on taxes and supporting responsible management of government spending.
County Commissioner, Dist. 4
We need the pickers!
Thank you for a well articulated article on the reality of the labor shortages currently faced (“Shortage of pickers is creating hardships,” Dorchester Banner, May 16).
Last year, pickers were brought in all the way from the Philippines! Dorchester County Public Schools taught me that is a long ways from Mexico.
The maritime and agricultural industries depend on H-2B visa workers. And thanks to people like Congressman Andy Harris (R-1) and the Freedom Caucus, barriers have been encouraged to prevent these workers from taking “good-paying American jobs.” The chicken industry, the crab industry, and the produce industry all on depend on them. It’s not 1964 anymore!
James H. Slacum