Am I an immigration reform quisling—by virtue of my job as an English as a Second Language instructor at the Lodi Adult School?
And, by extension, has California's illegal alien population grown so large that the state is dominated by the interest group composed of the number of occupations that cater to them?
Don Stewart, a regular VDARE.COM reader and correspondent, posed those two questions to me in a recent e-mail to our for-publication email@example.com address.
Here is Stewart's complete mail:
"First let me say that Joe is one of my favorite writers at VDARE.COM. Joe's position within the illegal immigrant community lends him a unique perspective that he shares with his readers.
"Having said that, I don't know that I have ever read anything by Joe, where he attributes his livelihood to a steady stream of illegal aliens. Those illegals are indirectly paying his rent, putting food on his table, providing the electricity to power the very computer on which Joe generates his fabulous weekend exposés. Without them Joe and thousands of other educators would be unemployed.
'We constantly hear about the huge demands illegals make on public services. But we rarely, if ever, consider the tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of well-paid white people who owe their living, like Joe, to the hordes flooding unchecked into our country.
"Think of the all the doctors, nurses, prison guards, educators, bankers, all highly-paid, with fat pensions, most living in well to do neighborhoods, who would be out of a job if the flow of illegals dried up!
'Could it be that we have reached a critical mass of illegal dependent occupations, that we are beyond the point of turning the tide?"
I'll deal with Stewart's equally compelling question about immigration and the California's economy in a future column.
But for today, I want to acknowledge that Stewart raises an excellent point about my seemingly paradoxical role in immigration reform.
Boiled down to the bare bones, Stewart wonders this: does my role as an educator aid and abet illegal immigrants—and therefore make me a traitor to our cause?
And, viewed superficially, the quick answer might be yes.
By way of background, I'll refer readers to my two earlier columns that addressed the subject: The Education of Joe Guzzardi and The Continuing Education of Joe Guzzardi: A Report From The Front Lines.
Here's my own reaction to Stewart's query.
During the past years, I've taught four sections of adult ESL, some of which undoubtedly had illegal aliens enrolled.
But some classes, like one offered for Southeast Asian refugees, had only legal immigrant pupils.
And I can only point to statistical probability to conclude that illegal aliens are in my classes. In any group of non-English speaking people in a California adult school ESL class, probability dictates that some will be illegally in the U.S.
But I guarantee you that, if I try to identify who among my students is an illegal alien, I'll be wrong more than half the time.
Here's an example: a nineteen-year-old woman who spoke only a few words of English spent nearly a year in my class. Her English was so poor that I was certain she had just arrived in the U.S. and was therefore here illegally. But it turned out that she had been born in Lodi, went to Mexico when she was two and came back a few months ago. She is an American citizen.
And so if often goes…a student will have been amnestied under 245i, legally here on a valid visa, married to a U.S. citizen, have a savvy immigration lawyer etc.
To suggest that I "owe" my "living" to illegal aliens is an exaggeration.
Over the twenty years that I have been employed by the Lodi Adult School I have taught high-school driver's education, summer school, conversational Spanish, computer skills for senior citizens and how aspiring entrepreneurs can write a persuasive business plan.
If the Lodi Adult School closed its doors my background is varied enough that I could land some kind of a job somewhere else.
Matching the salary I make at the as an adult school instructor would not be hard. The last time I checked, adult education teachers make the same as unionized cashiers at major supermarket chains.
But to return to Stewart's central point, let's assume I knew for a fact that my classes had only illegal alien students.
Would I stay on?
My answer is a resounding yes.
The reason is simple: of all of us in the immigration reform movement, I am one of the few who interacts with immigrants on a daily basis.
And drawing from my twenty years of experience on the front, I've written columns for VDARE.COM and two central California dailies—the Lodi News-Sentinel and The Record—that, I hope, have raised national awareness.
With immigration reform finally America's number one social issue, I like to think that my insider's columns have helped, if you'll permit me, to put us for the first time in a position where we can realistically think about winning this nasty battle that consumes us all.
Every writer who contributes to VDARE.COM plays a key role in our collective effort to educate readers about the immigration crisis.
My function is that of the insider, a California school district employee who has been there and seen it all.
No smoke can be blown past me.
If there is anyone from the other side who wants to challenge me to debate what is true and what is false about illegal immigration, let him come forward.
On behalf of all of us, I'll use everything I've learned on the front lines to humiliate him.
Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.