By Seth Daniel
After being harshly criticized by members of the Chelsea Collaborative and one School Committeewoman last Monday, Sept. 12, at the City Council meeting regarding statements about illegal immigration, Councillor Luis Tejada – who was not at that meeting – is responding to his critics this week.
“The fact is my statement wasn’t a mean statement towards anyone,” said Tejada. “It was a fact. Illegal immigration is a fact whether in Colombia, Bolivia or here in the United States. It doesn’t matter where. The fact is I love my Latino family. The reason I became a real estate broker was because my mother couldn’t buy a home way back in the day. It was mostly because of her broken English. At the time, people didn’t have the patience to deal with someone who only spoke broken English. I have a responsibility to help our Latino families who come here.
“Part of the problem is I’m very American, and I’m also very pro-Latino,” he continued. “I came here from Colombia in the 1980s when I was 11. I learned two things quickly. I am in America and I should become an American and I should learn to speak English. I have a lot of respect and gratitude for this country and am thankful for it. When you come here, they help you to start off. No other country does that. My wish is that all our Latino families remain Latino and also implement a part of Americanism in their lives. At no point did my comments attack our Latino community.”
Tejada said, essentially, he would like to see all of the Latino families begin to assimilate into the country so that they can all be successful. He indicated that he would support social service agencies requiring English classes in return for their help.
“There is plenty of evidence to reflect that whenever you see a particular nationality explode it is because those individuals have chosen to learn English so that they could communicate with the masses and expand on that amazing spirit that all immigrants have,” he said.
Last week, three members of the Collaborative criticized Tejada for a Facebook post that addressed illegal immigration and was in response to a 1995 video where former President Bill Clinton was expressing immigration opinions similar to those of Donald Trump. In his post, Tejada criticized people for using words like “undocumented” to describe illegal immigration. He also said in his post that having “anchor babies” doesn’t lessen the crime of illegal immigration.
Collaborative Director Gladys Vega said at the Sept. 12 Council meeting that the words were offensive and Tejada shouldn’t use words like “illegal” and “anchor babies.” She said the Latino community should work to get him voted out of office in next year’s election.
Meanwhile, School Committeewoman Yessenia Alfaro Alvarez detailed how she came here illegally from El Salvador many years ago and was able to legalize her status and improve her situation.
Tejada said he would urge all Latino families here illegally to follow Alvarez’s example.
“My wish for the illegal Latino families is that they could follow the example of Yessenia,” he said. “She came here illegally herself and put her nose to the grindstone and worked very hard. It think most Latino families do that, but I’d like to see all of them do the same.”