Because Latin American countries enjoy the billions of dollars that their countrymen in the United States send home, they should take note of how many of their benefactors are being treated by American officials.
Despite their numbers – the Urban Institute estimates that more than nine million undocumented immigrants live in the US, a number that exceeds the entire populations of countries like Costa Rica and Nicaragua – the undocumented worker has long been North America’s favorite punching bag. Damned on Sunday, they are hired for work on Monday.
Attacks on immigrants went into high gear in February, when the US Congress passed a bill that will make it illegal for any state to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented workers. No one in America is even writing about this or taking much notice because few care about those who are in the US illegally. Undocumented workers pick America’s crops, clean Americans’ houses, and serve Americans their food, but their fate simply does not matter to many US citizens.
Most groups with nine million members who represent billions of dollars would be raising hell in Congress if they were targeted for ill treatment. But the money undocumented workers earn goes abroad to build homes, start businesses, and take care of elderly parents throughout Latin America. So the countries that benefit from this largesse have a responsibility to speak up for the constituents who help keep their economies afloat. US Congresswoman Linda Sanchez says that if foreign presidents don’t speak up for their constituents in America, few others will.