Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Proud Patriotic Georgia Mayor Paul Bridges Stands Strong in support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform!

Uvalda, Georgia Mayor Paul Bridges, a 58 year-old Republican Conservative Southerner, used to HATE MEXICANS before he met one. He thought "they were just low-class people," he recalls. "They weren't even able to speak English." That changed one afternoon in 1999 when he was looking for lasagna ingredients at a Soperton grocery store. A brown-skinned couple caught his eye. From the way they leaned toward each other, he knew they were deeply in love. Words tumbled from their mouths -- a series of sounds - in a foreign language - without meaning for Bridges. He listened anyway, wishing he could understand. He spotted them walking outside the store, plastic grocery bags in hand. "Do ya'll wanna lift?" he asked. They looked at him quizzically, so he tried again, "Do ya'll wanna ride?"

The couple and another man piled into his car, pointing the way to their destination a few miles away: two rundown trailers in the middle of a cotton field. Bridges dropped them off and went home to make dinner. But he couldn't get what he'd seen out of his mind. Nearly 30 people lived in the two trailers. A few hours later, Bridges went back to the cotton field, carrying lasagna and his daughter's Spanish-English dictionary. It was the beginning of a whirlwind journey into a new world that would change his life.

People he had never noticed before embraced him. They taught him new words, served him soup and showed him the pictures of their children taped to the trailer's walls.
"It made me realize that I need to take another look at myself. ... It really brought out the 'me' in me," he says. He spent New Year's Eve that year with a family in Mexico. When he returned to Georgia, he started teaching English as a Second Language classes to immigrants. He introduced himself to his students as "Pablo Puentes," a literal, Spanish translation of his name.

Some people didn't understand his transformation. When Bridges first introduced the immigrant friend to his family, his brother-in-law turned around and walked away. Bridges refused to close his social circle. "I thought, 'Well, he just doesn't know" he says.

Immigrants had been strangers, almost non-human in his eyes. Then he met and got to know many of them. He realized they were Human Beings. Once he got to know them, he became good friends with them. He realized they were Christian, Hard Working, Family Loving, Just Like Him. And eventually, they became family.

As Bridges attitudes evolved, the archaic, racist and ANTI-Latino views of many of his friends did not change. Then, before he knew it, Georgia passed a heinous Racial Profiling bill, one that Bridges knew he could NEVER support. Panic arose about the new law as rumors spread. On a Friday afternoon, at the height of onion season, workers streamed into a South Georgia convenience store, eager to cash their paychecks from a week's work in the nearby fields. The smell of fresh fruit and the sound of Spanish small talk fill the air.

Regardless of the heinous bill, Bridges continued to greet customers from behind the counter, his words punctuated by the cash register's steady ring. "Buenas tardes," he says. "Pasenle" -- Come in.

Occasionally tourists stop to snap a photo of this store in Santa Claus, Georgia, a tiny town near Uvalda founded in the 1940s by a farmer hoping to boost pecan sales. But store OWNER Chris Wiggins says the influx of immigrants has been a far GREATER boon for his business. He operates the kind of gas station convenience store that only sold beer, potato chips and beef jerky a decade ago. Now limes, corn husks and dried chili peppers are part of the inventory. Calling cards behind the counter bear pictures of the Mexican flag. "I arranged for him to get some tortillas," says Bridges, who VOLUNTEERS at the store on Friday afternoons. It gives him a chance to practice different Spanish vocabulary, he says, and chat with friends.

"Gracias a usted," he tells one customer after ringing up his purchases. "Nada mas firma tu nombre abajo" -- just sign your name below -- he tells a man waiting to cash a check. Some people make a point of stopping by when they hear he's working. They are old friends or former English students who know him as "Don Pablo."

Bridges adds, "Now, the reality of the Racial Profiling law (sb9) that Georgia has passed will hit the farmers, businesspeople and every day people of Georgia like a 2 by 4 right between the eyes. It's going to get hard, and there will be a lot of people stung by it, I mean the farmers here rely on a skilled labor force, and when I say skilled, it is truly skilled (farm workers). You can't just take someone off the street and go out there and do what these hard working people do (Latino Migrant Workers). They have a rhythm, a timing, they have smoothness that is with practice. That is NOT something you do the first time. They didn't come here to steal our food stamps or welfare (as the extremists say). They didn't come her to take over ANYTHING! They (Latinos) came here to make a LIVING and SUPPORT THEIR FAMILIES and to MAKE A BETTER LIFE FOR THEMSELVES!"

Georgia Mayor Paul Bridges wants the Federal Government to come up with a solution that gives the millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States a chance to work here legally. He and other supporters have filed suit against this racial profiling bill and a Judge has blocked parts of it. "You get me an invite to that Tea Party meeting and I'm going ... I'd like to give the contrary viewpoints. Surely one person in the audience is going to be sympathetic." Mayor Paul Bridges is standing strong in support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

3 comments:

Thomas and Cheryl Mclendon said...

Dear Mr. Bridges
You truly are a fine example of an EARTH ANGEL. My husband and I support you 100%. Keep up the good work God will bless you for this.

Vicente Duque said...

Thanks Dee for beautiful story of a Great Human Being.The Mayor of a town in Georgia.

This is a REAL PATRIOT with a warm heart, not a fake one like Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin.

This article of yours is very positive, and that is excellent because there are too many negative news.

For example, the Cable Networks and liberal press are strongly criticizing Michele Bachmann today, Her family receives a quarter of a million in Federal Funds and Subsidies and she is constantly attacking "Entitlements" and "Gifts" to the Poor and Minorities.

There are new developments and discoveries, The Clinic of her husband functions with Federal Money ( Gifts ?? ), and her family profits from many other millionaire subsidies.

This is the topmost in Welfare Queens and Hypocrites.

.....

Felix Jaure said...

Arizona, State Republican Senator, Russell Pearce, E mailed his constituents with a warning supposedly carrying the same urgency, and magnitude, as the message delivered by the legendary hero Paul Revere, warning the Colonists, to "Take Arms the Red Coats are Coming."


Russell Pearce; "This is the most important message I’ve ever sent! We must unite today! We must speak with one voice! Barack Obama cannot be allowed to think that his actions will be allowed to go unchallenged. Last Friday, with no fanfare, no press coverage, and with every effort made to hide his actions from the American people…Barack Obama enacted the nightmarish DREAM Act!" Russell Pearce, beckoned all Patriots to come to the aid of America.


Abraham Lincoln; "Courage is of no value unless accompanied by justice yet if all men became just, there would be no need for courage."


Mayor Paul Bridges, could best be described by the words of President Lincoln, "I can only say that I have acted upon my best convictions without selfishness or malice, and that by the help of God, I shall continue to do so.

Paul Bridges, is a fine example of the philosophy, America's newly formed political Party professes too posses. Paul Bridges, A true, God Fearing, American Patriot.

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