Freedom Folks

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Import The Corrupt And Get?

Source: dallasnews
CACTUS, Texas – He's known in this Panhandle outpost by an unofficial yet majestic title: "El presidente de Cactus."

His two-story Spanish villa – looking over blocks of town-center shanties – is often called "the White House." His portfolio includes the town's only grocery and laundry, at least 18 rental properties and a 575-acre ranch nearby.

It was little more than 30 years ago that Luis Aguilar slipped into this country from Mexico, eventually using a fake name, license and Social Security card to land a job at this town's sprawling beef packing plant. A decade later, he was in the right place at the right time when federal immigration reform granted him amnesty and put him on the path to citizenship.

Now, as mayor and arguably the most affluent – and influential – resident in town, he not only rents rooms and sells groceries to a new generation of illegal immigrants, but he also is paid to place them in jobs. *snip*

Mr. Aguilar, for one, slipped into the country near Tijuana, Mexico, on foot.

His goal? "A better life."

It was a treacherous, frightening journey from his home in Chihuahua: "When I cross the border, I think it gonna be my last one. I almost freeze to death."

An articulate man in his native language, Mr. Aguilar speaks a broken English learned on the job.

He spent three years working in a restaurant in Battle Mountain, Nev. In 1976, at the urging of a relative, he journeyed to the Texas Panhandle with his 18-year-old wife, Luz, and their infant daughter, Rosa. He called himself Amador Rivas. And he had the documents – albeit, bogus – to prove it.

In Cactus, he was the stereotypically hard-working, invisible immigrant. Soon after arriving, the couple had their second child, Eva. And he worked 12- to 18-hour days in the packing plant's shipping department for $10 an hour – "good money back then," as he put it.

With his job, he was able to provide for his growing family, send money home to Mexico and save a little.

Later, he was promoted to director of shipping and receiving, enabling him to buy an apartment building. For seven years, he and his family occupied two of the four units and rented the rest.

Then, in 1986, he received an unexpected gift: He was one of 2.7 million illegal immigrants awarded amnesty by President Ronald Reagan under the Immigration Reform and Control Act. *snip*

Over time, he became a force in town – and served as a beacon for other south-of-the-border immigrants pursuing the American dream.

His Spanish-style home with its arched doorways and light-colored stucco walls dominates the center of town, commanding respect from those dwelling in the shanty trailer homes that surround it.

"The people of Cactus built my home for me," he said.

He is open about his role in helping undocumented immigrants who follow his path.

"I work as the middle man for places around the Panhandle," said Mr. Aguilar, 50. "They [feedlots] pay me, and I pay the guys. I keep their timecards here in the store. I am hired to find them." *snip*
And my favorite para...
Cactus today seems less like a Panhandle burg than a colonia – magically airlifted 600 miles north from the border and dropped into the heart of what once was the Anglo-dominated, farm and ranch South Plains. *snip*

Cactus has an official population of 2,538. But realistically, it's closer to 5,000, and officials here estimate that three of every four residents are illegal immigrants, drawn by work in feedlots or the $11-plus hourly wages at the Swift Co. plant.
To recap: The mayor, an ex-illegal alien, now facilitates illegal immigration acting as a de facto coyote, though he's an elected official and three fourths of the towns residents are illegal immigrants?

Think we can scratch this city off of the American map now?

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