Last month’s article titled “The Growing Hispanic Population in the U.S.” generated some feedback from a number of readers who were more than willing to share their views on the current debate about protecting our southern border. But once I cut through all those opinions, it’s fair to say they are supportive of the ultimate conclusion that, regardless of a person’s ethnic background, if they can correctly fix a car, then let’s put them to work. The following is an e-mail I received from a reader who has walked in the shoes of a person new to the United States that I think is worth reading.
Mr. Stankard, I read your article in Underhood Service. I’m a manager for a major automotive chain. I worked my way up from the bottom, working as a tire buster for Sears back in the 1980s. I emigrated to the U.S. in the early ’80s; coming from an English-speaking country made the change easy for me. I’ve served in the U.S. military and, for all wants and needs, you’d never know I’m from another country; even my accent has changed over the years. I’ve had a Spanish-speaking employee in my shop since I started at this location, and having someone who is bi-lingual is handy.
Recently, I was given the opportunity to hire a tech who is originally from Mexico. I’ve worked with him before; his specialty is diagnostics. He speaks good English and has worked in Southern California for many years. A better diagnostics man couldn’t be wished for — he’s thorough, smart and, while he’s not the fastest, I’ve learned to take his word as gospel. So have my other techs. The fact that he’s from Mexico means he can converse fluently with some of my customers who don’t speak good English and, as a result, I’m seeing a higher influx of Hispanic patrons; word gets around. While he’s fluent in spoken English, occasionally some written material can throw him off. Some things just defy translation. The fact that you also have an English translation (in Servicio Automotriz — our Spanish language magazine) would mean I could read it also, picking up key words for later use.
Now, as far as immigration? Is there a problem? Yes. Have we made the problem worse by catering to a foreign language? Probably. But let’s not assume that every Spanish-speaking person out there is an illegal immigrant. Some, probably most, like myself, filled out the forms, got on the lists, took the tests and went though a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo to live here in the U.S. They’ve earned the right to be here.
Do I have an answer for the problem? No, I’m not a politician or legal analyst; I’m an” automotive technician — that’s what I do.
Please sign me up for a subscription to Servicio Automotriz magazine.