But the number of people helped will be far greater.
I am thinking of how much we depend on the cashiers and packers at the grocery store and the guys on the work trucks and the busboys in the restaurants. They are part of the structure of our lives, all of us.
I have no idea of the status of the people I encounter every day in my town – don’t want to know -- but the faces and the Spanish language tell me many are from Central America.
They work hard. They are smart. And as President Obama pointed out Thursday night, they are family people. They remind me of my image of America -- the people who came here and stuck together and helped each other.
The young woman who cuts my hair and worries about her young son, at home with a fever. The supervisor in the grocery store who is breaking in the new woman, instructing her how to work a checkout line. The guy who gives me a fist bump and inquires about my family: he used to work on somebody else’s lawn crew; now he has a truck of his own. He points to his initials on the door.
And the next generation moves up. They name their children Jonathan and Jennifer. I see Spanish surnames on the school honor rolls in our local weekly. They work in medical offices, with skills they studied to acquire.
In the past week, in a local restaurant, the waitress had a face that suggested Central America but her accent and gestures were straight Lawn Guyland.
I have this reaction, knowing that borders must be protected, and undesirables sent home. I know that some of the brutal taxes on Long Island go to educate and care for some people without “the right papers.” I know this is a complicated issue from reading both the Wall Street Journal and Paul Krugman’s beautiful testimonial on Friday.
We need to sort this out. But as long as Congress is caught in what I construe as racist bias against a duly-elected President, Obama needs to take common-sense and compassionate action toward families with children with rights to citizenship. They are us, and vice versa. Our neighbors.