One anchor. One person. One person was responsible for bringing in thirty people legally into the United States.
How did it happen? By one act of kindness.
Was it good for America? Not at all.
My father was an entrepreneur who started many companies. Some failed while others did very well. And over his life he employed lots of people and helped create a lot of wealth for them One of his employees was families had immigrated from Colombia.
She was a lovely lady who cleaned the office and helped around wherever she could. In her later years she helped my father and mother at their home.She did not speak English and first came here illegally. Since my father did not want any problems with the authorities, he paid for a lawyer and got her a green card. And over time she got all of her documents, paid her taxes and became a U.S citizen.
Yet having lived here her entire life, she never learned English. Never took the time to learn the culture and never fully integrated into American life. She always lived as an outsider within the American system. And she knew her life was far better here than it ever could be in Colombia.
So now as a U.S citizen with full rights, she helped bring over her entire family from Colombia.. Her sister, daughter, husband, and nieces all immigrated here. And even today, she continues to bring over her extended family, all legally.
I always had a good relationship with Lydia and it became closer when I married my wife Rocio. When I moved back to N.Y, Lydia and my wife hit it off since they both spoke Spanish. And as I had children, Lydia helped me with my kids.
Lydia was the first person that opened my eyes to an America and a system that I never knew existed and would never be part of. It all happened when one of my daughters got sick and I had to take her to the emergency room. When Lydia saw the bill I had to pay, Lydia was first shocked that I paid and even more dismayed by my naïveté for paying the bill.
Lydia seeing how I overpaid for my daughters medical bills and other such things began to educate me informed me there are many ways to go to the emergency room and not have to pay the bill. In fact she began to teach me about the massive government system of services that are free to almost anybody, a system that I had no idea that existed.
It reminded me of a Lydia who skit done years ago on Saturday Night Live where the black comedian Eddie Murphy dressed up as a white man in a comedy and goes out to what it was like to live as a white man in America.
In the first scene the white Eddie Murphy enters a newsstand is not allowed to pay for the newspaper by the white owner, and as he surmises “I guess white people give each other things when black people are not around.”
In another scene, Eddie Murphy is on a bus which breaks out into a grand party after the last black person departs. Finally when Eddie Murphy goes to a bank to get a loan and is rejected by the black banker because he had no i.d, no job and no collateral, he eventually gets a $50,000 loan in cash, when a white banker intervenes on his behalf .
The skit is hilarious in that it was clearly over the top and yet when I began to see how Lydia lived, it reminded me of that skit. Comedy works because it touches on the nerves of truth. We all know that there are diffrent experiences people have that we will never be part of because of our race, color or gender. It is normal. However, comedy of my association with Lydia I was able to get a glimpse into the world of government programs and assistance that the majority of Americans have no idea they existed how they operated
Lydia had none or practically no medical bills (Medicaid). She could go a Doctor at virtually no cost.She had access to free food (food stamps, E.B.T program). She received several monthly checks from a smorgasbord of government agencies that helped her pay for her housing and other miscellaneous expenses. She was set.
Although these programs and doors are supposedly open to all Americans, I would never be able to access them. They were never meant for people like me. They were not meant for “Normal Americans”. Think I am wrong? Take a look at how veterans are treated with sub standard care at the Veterans Administration Hospitals. These are the types of the because government programs normal Americans receive. It was designed that way.
A few years back I went to a finance conference where one of the panelist argued how efficiently the government operated. The panel laughed at her comments, but she continued “The money in government is by being inefficient. For example many companies can bid on a government contracts- and for many they will never win the contract nor ever be able to complete the application. But with the right contact (and payoff) within the government, you will actually get your application completed and win the job.” That was my epiphany. The government is actually quite receive efficient if you know how to pull the right levers.
The reason why Lydia had great benefits and veterans have terrible ones is because Lydia and her ilk know how to bring the votes. The communities Lydia lives in know how to get people elected and keep them in power and because of that the government responds to people like her. Veterans don’t vote as a uniform block and because of that, they are recipients of an inefficient government. Minority communities generally speaking live close to each other (think Chicago, NYC) which makes it easier to concentrate their power. While veterans are spread out all over the United States.
Lydia did what any rational person would do, she told her family about the amazing benefits she received and tried to bring in as many of them as she could.And now as a U.S citizen she continues to live off the government.
As a country we are worse off having allowed Lydia into our country. It pains me to say it but it is the truth. The people she brought over came here to consume and better their own lives and their received but not the country which has given them so much. The irony was that my father was a veteran who never once took anything form the government and yet has helped many others to do so.