On the Illegal Immigration Debate, Tim Egan's Savvy Op-Ed, and How It Appears in Novels

So Tim Egan has a blistering attack on the scapegoating of Latinos in the latest Republican presidential debates, and the whole issue of illegal immigration and migrant workers, here:

I grew up in a predominantly Latino area of South Texas (San Antonio and just north of Corpus Christi, both places with Latino populations near 50% or above), and from personal experience, I think I understand at least part of the complexity of this topic. It’s not simply Good v. Bad, either way. There certainly are detrimental effects of illegal immigration in some areas, such as the border locales that see much difficult and dangerous crossing, and the human-trade that makes it function—the coyotes who charge high prices to guide people across the border, for instance. But I’ve also worked with illegal immigrants, and know that they are more often than not simply people who are willing to work, going to a country where jobs are more plentiful than in their own. A sound, compassionate policy needs to be articulated—not electrified fences, such as Herman Cain suggests.
And I write about illegals in my new novel, not simply portraying them as one thing or another. Keeping people disenfranchised and downtrodden makes them angry. It creates ugly situations. We as a country should do better. I think most people know that. My new novel is set in Pueblo, Colorado, one of—if not THE—most Latino cities in Colorado. It’s a funky place, with a complicated personality. It’s interesting. That makes for a good place to set a story. I spend much of my life now in a fairly homogenous area of Pennsylvania, and when I visit San Antonio, I’m amazed at the complexity of it. Plus I love the food, la comida mexicana. Life is a lesser thing without it.

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