My grandma would've been in trouble had she lived in Avon Park, Florida. Until the day she died, in her seventies, she spoke only Italian. Her nine kids, raised in New York, USA, spoke both Italian and English.
She got along fine, by all accounts, coming to America in the early 2oth Century. She didn't learn the language, but somehow her children did. Four sons served in the armed forces. Four owned their own businesses. One son graduated from Yale. All spoke fluent English. Some things just take time. Time and patience. And tolerance.
Tolerance is in short supply in Avon Park, Florida these days. Mayor Tom Macklin put through an ordinance that outlaws speaking any language other than English. It would fine any landlord renting to "illegals" and any businesses that hire the undocumented. City attorney Mike Disler called it "unconstitutional," and was fired soon after.
While city commissioners might have gone along with Macklin's draconian ordinance, the citizens do not. According to Blanca Gonzalez of Immigrants United For Freedom, roughly 100 people demonstrated in Avon Park when word of the new English-only law got out. On Sunday July 23, there will be a vigil at 6 PM in Donaldson Park on Main Street in Avon Park.
If you miss that one, there will be a protest Monday, July 24 at 1:00 PM, 300 Main Street, Avon Park.
All persons of conscience and common sense are encouraged to attend, whatever language they speak.
For more information call: Blanca Gonzalez of Immigrants United for Freedom 813-763-2309, 0r 763-0150.
If Macklin succeeds in running off all the Spanish speaking immigrants, it begs the question: who will pick the oranges in this citrus farming community? Oranges are rotting on the trees now, and recent news headlines quote farm owners decrying the shortage of workers to bring in the harvest. Macklin and vigilante groups attempt to "solve" this country's immigration woes by putting up "Stop the Invasion" signs at airports and city limits, attacking the people who feed us all.
The beautiful thing about fruits and vegetables is they'll let anyone pick them. Anyone willing to do the hard work, for the insultingly low pay. So, maybe the mayor and his family will step up, after he runs off all the Spanish speaking workers.
And you carnivores aren't safe either. That's right, meat eaters. Even if you never eat fruits or vegetables, chances are a Latino immigrant works in that hellish meat factory your pork chops came from.
Melissa Gonzalez, Blanca's daughter says she "almost hit a cop who did a u-turn in the middle of the street" in pursuit of a car full of Latinos. She said it's become common for people who "look Mexican" to be stopped while driving and deported. Many of those who participated in the national Day Without an Immigrant boycott and march have quietly "disappeared."
Meanwhile, unpicked citrus rots and Florida's most famous export threatens to become political posturing and bigotry. And when the price of orange juice blasts through the roof, it will be the innocent consumers who pay.