The other day I was reading an Associated Press story on the plight of impoverished Latinos that focused on a Mexican woman named Cristina Melendez, who lives in Fresno, California, which the AP calls “the nation’s breadbasket.”
According to the story, the 36-year-old mother of seven, who entered the country illegally as a teenager, can’t afford a doctor when she is sick, can’t pay her rent, and is penniless. It’s a heart wrenching story. At least that’s what the reader is supposed to come away feeling. I’m sorry, but I didn’t.
If you look a little deeper at Ms. Melendez and the choices she has made, it’s kind of hard to sympathize. Let’s forget for now the fact that she is an illegal alien and just concentrate on what brought her to where she is today.
She once had visions of living the American dream, with a good job, a house and a car. Hoping to escape the stoop labor of the agricultural fields where her family worked, she dropped out of high school and got married. That marriage ended, but she went on to have seven kids. Seven kids with no apparent way to provide for them except food stamps!
Her two oldest sons, ages 18 and 21 (and keep in mind that Melendez is 36), graduated from high school, but are unemployed. One of them got student loans to attend a technical training program, but dropped out. How much do you want to bet that that loan ever gets repaid?
Now he has a baby of his own, repeating the cycle. And, just like his mother, he has dreams, too. He hopes to someday open a tattoo parlor and smoke shop. He is quoted in the story as saying, "I don’t want to work in the fields, busting my ass for low pay. That doesn’t make sense."
The AP article makes the argument that because she was in the country illegally and did not have a high school education, Melendez was behind the eight ball to start with. I don’t buy that story either. Call me cold and callous if you will. Tell me this poor woman had disadvantages that held her back from the start. I don’t believe that. We make the choices in our lives! If you make bad choices, you have to live with the consequences. Or not.
I’ve known women who got pregnant as teenagers and still managed to support themselves and their children. I’ve known a lot of people with limited education who have worked hard to pull themselves up in life. They didn’t sit around whining about how bad they had it. They found a solution to their problems.
The woman who was my attorney for years was a single mom who worked her way through college and law school. No, she wasn’t an illegal alien, and yes, she had a high school diploma. She was also blind and had to use crutches to get around since childhood, due to other severe physical limitations! It took her an extra three years to complete college and law school, but she graduated magna cum laude and went on to open her own law office! So which of these women do you think had the disadvantage?
If you want to drop out of school, spit out babies like a bubble fountain, get a police record, decorate your face with tattoos and piercings, and paint your hair orange and yellow, that’s your right. But don’t complain when you find yourself unable to get a good job and live in the style you want to become accustomed to.
And don’t expect my tax dollars to pay for the food stamps and other welfare that subsidizes the poor decisions you have made.
Tags: Associated Press, entered the country illegally, food stamps, high school diploma, high school dropout, illegal alien, law school, living the American dream, magna cum laude, making poor choices in life, student loan, tattoos and piercings, tax dollars, unemployed Latinos, unwed mother, welfare mom