Former undocumented immigrant Edgar Ortega: A true survivor

by , under Enrique

I read a fascinating story on YLE in English about a former undocumented immigrant in Finland, Edgar Ortega of Mexico. He’s a true survivor. Ortega would clean construction sites, distribute pizza adverts and engage in other work before he got a residence permit. 

Ortega made 4-5 euros an hour as an undocumented immigrant, according to him.

“Yes, it was difficult,” he was quoted as saying on YLE in English. “When I got married and went for interviews with the police, I was asked many, many questions over several days. It was a little bit like a psychological test.”

He works today for Veolia bus company in Espoo.

Kuvankaappaus 2013-2-18 kello 9.37.15

If many matters are distorted in the ongoing debate on immigration, immigrants and our ever-growing cultural diversity,  there are some politicians and journalists who blame these newcomers for taking jobs and lowering salaries.

It should be remembered, however, that immigrants want to get paid the same wages and have the same rights as other workers. They may work for lower prices like Ortega, but this is due to the employer who is exploiting them.

Unions in this country should take steps to educate and protect immigrant workers in Finland so they won’t be exploited by greedy companies.

It’s a positive matter that YLE uses on the story the term undocumented as opposed to illegal immigrant.

There’s been a big debate in the United States about which term is correct.

On a New York Times article on the growing Hispanic population of California, Scott Baugh, Republican chairman of Orange County, doesn’t use the term illegal immigrant.

“To constantly refer to undocumented immigrants as illegals is very hostile and self-righteous,” he said.  “Let’s point out that while crossing the border without documents is illegal, a federal misdemeanor, being in this country as an immigrant isn’t a criminal act.”

The Republican Party has paid a high price with voters in California because it has been identified with anti-immigration legislation. Orange County is the most conservative county in California.

The first undocumented immigrant I ever met in Finland was in the 1980s. He was working for one of Helsinki’s first Mexican restaurants, Mexicana. The cook from Mexico complained about the low pay, long hours and that he had to sleep in the kitchen. 

According to the police, there are between 2,000 and 4,000 undocumented immigrants residing in Finland.