Made en América

In “Hecho en America”, Jeanne Marie Laskas, a correspondent for GQ Magazine, recounts the season that she spent picking blueberries in Maine alongside “the constant wanderers who put fruit on our table. ” (150). In the article, she states that, “Most of the people who pick our food come from Mexico but to most of us they’re strangers, so removed from our lives we hardly know they’re here… ” which opens her argument.

She claims that the statements made by politicians, particularly during an election, that illegal immigration is a problem reaching breaking point is false, arguing that “there really is no invasion” and “no growing national crisis” (152). Laskas’ article argues the need for immigrants, legal or otherwise, in the United States through personal experience, by stating that there are not enough documented workers to fill the needs of America’s horticultural production, and by employing a dramatic and sometimes mocking attitude in her writing.

To attempt to gain a better understanding of how immigrants in the United States live, Laskas spent a season in Maine with a group of immigrants, picking wild blueberries. The result? She seems more knowledgeable on the subject, therefore her intended audience, middle-class citizens, are more inclined to have confidence in her words. It makes her seem like she has the best interest of the people in mind. Laskas’ experiences on the blueberry farm influence her opinion on immigration, which affects the entire article.

She tells the story of a migrant worker, Urbano, and his twin sons, Pedro and Juan, trying desperately to save their house in North Carolina, while strategically placing facts about immigration throughout. This holds the reader’s attention while still providing them with important information. Laskas attempts to make a pathos-based argument when she tells her readers of sitting in the car with Urbano. He tells her the story of how his father was shot in Mexico and when he returned for his funeral, he was robbed of all the money he had.

This story is supposed to provoke an emotional response from the reader. Fifty percent of the migrant-farmworker population, most of which come from Mexico, are in the United States illegally. This fact supports Laskas’ argument that there would not be enough documented, legal workers to fill the needs of America’s booming $144 billion horticulture production without illegal immigrants. According to her, if there are no illegal immigrants, then “the fruit falls to the ground and rots” (153). Laskas cites information from Juan Perez-Febles as fact without confirming it through other, more reliable sources.

For example, migrants pay into Social Security, which is money they will never see because their IDs are fake. “That’s billions of dollars for the Treasury department to keep. It’s really a good deal for the U. S. in many ways,” said Perez-Febles. The first part of this statement is true but there is no proof given to support the quote. Laskas does not expand on the argument or say what other ways that this is a good deal for the U. S. or state opposing argument. This makes her argument less persuasive to the audience.

From the beginning, Laskas makes the everyday struggles and hardships of immigrants seem very dramatic, depicting the story of a young migrant boy, temporarily blinded from a simple case of pinkeye, hysterically crying out for his father. This effect was intentional; this hooks the audience and makes them continue reading. She told this story to demonstrate, without actually having to say it, that most illegal immigrants do not have access to proper medical care or emergency services, with the nearest hospital being 25 miles away.

She over exaggerates the arguments of opposing viewpoints making them sound humorous and over-the-top to her readers. “These people are robbing our homes and trafficking drugs and raping our children right there in our J. C. Penney dressing rooms,” says Laskas, for comic relief, the sarcastic undertones almost jumping off the page (152). Statements like these are what are known as “straw-man” arguments, which are simplified versions of an opposing viewpoint. “Straw-man” arguments are set up so that they can be easily knocked down. She contradicts herself though when she points out the flaws of such an argument by Pat Buchanan. The fingerprints, too, go down the drain with the rest,” she says when referring to washing an apple.

The dramatic tone of this statement is a strategy meant to persuade the reader. It makes something as simple as washing an apple seems to mean a lot more than it does. This strategy is very effective because it makes readers feel a connection to something that, actually, has little to no meaning. Jeanne Laskas’ points are weakened by their lack of support with reliable evidence. She simplifies complex issues in order to amplify the appeal of her own arguments, consequently making her readers have less faith in her attempts to persuade them.

The article also jumps around too much and seems to be a bit jumbled at times, which can leave a reader confused and no more informed on the subject than before. Laskas’ argument that immigrants are necessary in America may be realistic but there are not enough valid claims presented in the article to make that statement with confidence She has a clear understanding of the issue but fails to convey that understanding in this article by not giving enough attention to opposing viewpoints of her own.

When Laskas briefly discusses an argument that is different from her own, she simplifies it, making it sound humorous and unrealistic. This shows that she does not have a lot of confidence in what she is saying which can be discerning to an observant reader. In order to decide whether, indeed, the United States actually needs illegal immigrants to thrive is actually the case, it would be useful to have access to more statistics and data on the subject. Without this information provided in the article, the argument remains unsubstantiated and open to debate and criticism from many different angles.