PHOTO: Farm workers picking peppers near Gilroy, California. Getty Images.
I am the Mexican next door. Next to your country, next to your home. To your office, your cubicle, your seat at school. Next to your parking space, your locker, your desk. The one that often speaks in Spanish and laughs loudly when needing to laugh and turns serious when it’s time to be serious.
I am the Mexican next door. Willing to work long hours in the fields, picking the fruit and vegetables that grow abundantly in the Southwest and other parts of this land: The United States of America, a beacon of freedom and a place blessed by the genius and purpose of its founders.
I am the Mexican next door. Working smartly to steal a living wage from a job that pays little, planting, growing and harvesting the crops we all need. Although you often tell me and others that you don’t want me here, I am, in a way, the one that makes the picking of crops happen and allows you to enjoy these treasures pulled from the bosom of our Earth for pennies on the dollar.
I do other work too, mostly menial, the tasks most Americans aren’t willing to do because they’re hard and shamelessly provide at best sordid wages. But, I’m not complaining, really. I am grateful for the work because I need it to support the family I left behind in Mexico. Things weren’t good there. Plain and simple.
I am the Mexican next door, at your favorite restaurant, busing tables, serving you, washing dishes, throwing out the garbage. Cooking. In many cities across this vast land. Washing your cars, cleaning your homes, mowing your lawns, maintaining your gardens. Helping you. Looking after your children. Feeding them, listening to them. Playing with them.
Like many men and women that have come to America before me, I hope that one day you will understand that I do not come to this land for a handout, but for an opportunity. I also hope that I am not treated as a lesser human being because I am not one. I come here to help you and to help myself and my family. I am an immigrant. Rising amongst the tempest tossed masses yearning to breathe free. I am the Mexican next door. Your neighbor, a human being like you. Your friend.
I hope that one day too you will understand that just like most other newcomers that have come here and have helped build this nation, I come here to do the same. I come to work, to thrive, and hopefully to continue to help shape the lofty future of America. And please understand that I will always be next to you: to your country, to your home, your workplace, and your future. I will always be there.
I am the Mexican next door.