The Drunken Rogue and the Probably (But Not Definitely) Illegal Aliens

New Orleans is a city that is known throughout the world for its French influence. The Cajun patois (that's dialect for the uninitiated), the Creole culture, and names like Bourbon and Vieux Carre all scream French heritage. What many do not know is that there has been, throughout its history, almost as much Spanish influence on the Crescent City. As an example, the architecture throughout much of the French Quarter is actually mirroring Spanish design (ironic isn't it).

An even greater surprise to many people is that there is perhaps a greater Spanish influence on New Orleans today than ever in history. We (like many other parts of the country) are undergoing an invasion by Spanish speaking peoples. These probably (although not definitely) illegal aliens are everywhere. The common misconception is that they are all border jumpers from nearby Mexico. That may in fact be the way they got in, but they come from all over. Guatemala, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Chile and, yes, sunny Mexico were all represented in the Rogue's unofficial (and very unscientific) poll.

How did I get this info, and what inspired me to dive knee deep into the immigration debate? The company I work for (yes the Rogue has a day job) is currently in the process of relocation. We had three floors of an office building to pack up and move across town. It was the determination of management that even with all levels of our employees chipping in, we would not have enough manpower to get the job done in time to be out at the end of the month (as is required by our lease). So, we hired day laborers (the probably, but not definitely illegal aliens referenced in the title).

When I was told of this plan, I admit that I faced a bit of a moral and political dilemma. I am fairly hard lined in favor of changing (ie. strengthening) our immigration laws and border security. As a devout free economist I understand that immigration (and even somewhat open borders) are in our long term best interest economically, but I also know that many of our social systems are taxed to the limits and could not abide another massive influx of immigrants that sometimes (but not always) fail to pay taxes. Generally, I'm too much of a humanitarian (and have spent too long considering what I would do in a similar situation) to support deportation for most of the aliens currently in the country (the felons and violent criminals, on the other hand, should go yesterday), but I do believe in harsh penalties for companies that employ these laborers (thus increasing the demand for them to immigrate illegally). Does that same standard apply to my company?

In the end my moral questions took a back seat to my disinclination to lug all that crap across town myself (go ahead and give me the humanitarian of the world award). The Drunken Rogue is many things but a manual laborer is not (checking the latest updates...nope) anywhere on the list. So for the past several days, I've been sweating alongside roughly ten probably (but not definitely) illegal aliens, or PBNDIA (pronounced pub-nah-de-ah) for short.

First impressions? Holy crap! I now understand why there is such a call for immigrant workers. I say the following with no racial bias whatsoever, no white man in the history of the world (alright, the last 20 years) has worked as hard as the men have. These guys bust their butt constantly with little grumbling about the difficulty of the work and nothing but thanks for the pay (which to the credit of my bosses is very reasonable) and meals provided. In the past few days, they have taken apart furniture, hauled lumber, pulled up carpet, painted and literally anything else they were asked to do.

Most of our workers do not speak English, and since the Rogue took French in high school and college, other than the occasional "Bueno!" I'm at a loss for how to communicate with them. The ones that do speak English, Fernando, Jorge and Oscar are extremely nice and have interesting stories to tell. Fernando, for instance, has lived all over the United States (he's originally from Puerto Rico). He was in New York, then California, then Miami and now is residing in New Orleans. His wife and two children (still working in southern California) are planning to join him soon. He says that New Orleans is expensive (glad to know I'm not the only one that thinks so) but that the work here is good and the people nice so he will stay.

It's so odd to put faces and names on such a large national problem as (probable) illegal immigration. For years I've noticed the influx of Latino immigrants, the changes in store policies (I'm looking at you, Home Depot) to include Spanish on their signs, and the rising level of complaining about our borders. But now, I know Fernando, Jorge, and Oscar and it's not so easy to just say "Put up a fence, then send the ones that are here home." Sure, the borders must be secured, we cannot leave such massive holes in our defense against terrorists. But I'm starting to see why some (President Bush and John McCain especially) felt the need for a guest worker program and a path to citizenship for those already here. I'm not exactly converted yet, maybe you should call me an Almost (But Not Quite) Convert.

**Don't forget to check out "Exclamations of a Drunken Rogue" the funniest and most interesting bits of the internet all neatly compiled for you.**