Sunday, March 25, 2007

A real alien

I was recently attending a festival in my town here in Southern California. Being a family friendly event they restricted beer sales to one relatively small section. I don't drink but the band sounded really good and they were playing my kind of music - Doobie Brothers, Stones, Santana, Super Tramp, etc - so I got in a short line to enter in. At the restricted entrance were some official looking guys who seemed to be checking people and giving them wrist bands. It didn't seem to me like you had to pay. They weren't collecting money. There were about 4-5 people in front of me. There were two young ladies, then an older Mexican couple. They seemed to be in their 50's. He was dressed in a nice dark blue shirt with one of those Mexican "ties" with the clip and the string hanging down. He had a nice looking black cowboy hat. (The festival had a western theme). Most people just seemed to be getting wrist bands. But then one of the official guys asked one of the young ladies for her I.D. As soon as this happened, the older Mexican guy quickly ducked out of line. I wasn't sure what was going on. I stepped forward, held out my hand, not sure what to expect. They official guys started wrapping a wrist band on me. Meanwhile, I heard the older Mexican guy come back and in very broken English he asked, "Why ID? Why ID?" or something like that. At first the official guys were confused or didn't understand what he was asking. Then it hit them. "Oh, " they said, "It's for the beer! Cerveza!" I was through the line by this time and did not see what happened.

I'm a little slow about these things but I began to interpret what I had observed and it made me strangely sad. I am now sure this handsome old Mexican guy was an illegal alien here in the US. Now the official guys only asked for ID's from people who looked under age for drinking. You see, the wrist bands were a way to screen people (i.e. "These people are OK to buy beer!"). So, they had to make sure that everyone who went in was the proper age. But when the old guy saw them asking for IDs, he reacted immediately because, like many illegals, they have no ID.

My heart went out to him. On paper, I'm against illegal aliens. They sap our social services and (some say) take jobs from Americans and many crimes are committed by illegals. But here I saw a guy who lived in fear. He was not a free and easy man. Each day he needed to be careful and watch out lest he be deported out of the country. When he saw the IDs being asked for, alarms went off. For that moment, illegals were not a theoretical segment of our society to me. Here was a real one, just trying to have a nice time at a local festival, having to struggle with the precarious nature of his existence here in this country. He's probably just trying to earn some money to send to his family back in Mexico or wherever he comes from.

I don't know what the short term or long term solutions to these deep issues are but I know I feel for the guy. He is not a free man. By all comparison, I am a free man. I walk around with relatively few worries and concerns. For this I am thankful. But my heart went out to the old guy in the blue shirt. I hope he got his beer.

No comments: