Walking through the streets of Fairhill, one would confuse the place for a town in Latin America as the air is filled with the sound of bachata and the smell of pincho and bacalaito. Dubbed “El Centro de Oro, or the street of gold, Fairhill is home to Philadelphia’s largest Hispanic community and has created a world where Hispanic tradition and culture fit in perfectly with Philly’s own homegrown ways. Life for Fairhill residents has become an idyllic mix of hard work and the comfort of life learned in their respective countries ranging from Puerto Rico to Colombia to Mexico.
Fairhill: People Oppose Arizona ‘Copycat’ Law on Immigration
Transplanted in Philadelphia, the people of Fairhill have established everything from businesses to schools and have managed to do so without outright resistance in a city that prides itself on diversity. Recently, the idea that the Hispanic community is completely welcome has begun to wear thin with the passage of the Arizona immigration law. Residents made it clear that this would be a threat and is considered by all, as unjust.
“To me it seems like a form of racism,” says Jose Maisone, a Fairhill resident. “The majority of these immigrants come here to work and to work hard and this is like a persecution. I’m completely against it.”
Fairhill residents are oftentimes naturalized citizens, if not born citizens such as Maisone, who is Puerto Rican. Despite this, a Pennsylvania representative also attempted to adopt a similar law to that of Arizona with HB 2479. The law would establish the same regulations that would make it a crime to be without identification as a citizen. Fairhill residents see this as an infringement on their very right to live peacefully.
“I think that this law goes against our fundamental rights as American citizens because it allows for people to be categorized based on a certain way they look where they would get a certain label and all of a sudden not receive the same rights as me,” said Rachel, a junior at Haverford College.
“For me it is a completely negative law,” said Bienvenida Jimenez, a Fairhill resident and local bodega owner. “Here, as we all know, no one is really native to the land. God left this land for whoever works the hardest and does things right. He didn’t say that there is a specific group that should live here.”
“Being discriminated against doesn’t make any sense at all,” said Melvin Gonzalez, a food stand owner and Fairhill resident. “When we bleed, we bleed the same blood. People should be allowed to progress in whatever country they feel like. If your country is poor and you’re not doing good and you want a better education and America brings it to you, why not?”
We must stop illegal immigration and all should come together!