Your Bootstraps Are Ours Now. Good Luck!

by Shaker trinity91

[Content Note: Racism; eliminationism.]

This is the story about how my family ended up needing the social services that the Republicans want so badly to take away.

When I was three years old, my family moved out into the country and onto a sustainable farm. Our 20-family community raised and grew the majority of our own food. The land we lived on was what the US government calls a "land grant"—land that was given to individual families before the area surrounding it became part of the United States. This is important. The land is considered untaxable because it doesn't belong to the US government and therefore cannot be sold.

The work was hard, but it meant that our rent was extremely low and we had very little food expense. This was the only way for my mom to support us.

The surrounding area started to develop when I was about ten. More and more people were looking to get out of the city. With people comes the need for services. Water companies, internet coverage, etc.

Then came the problem: Ten miles away from where we lived was a large town. For 20 years, Walmart had been trying to open a store in that area with no success. No one would sell to them because they would do what they do and run everyone else's business out of town. The area where we were had never been considered an option because there just wasn't enough infrastructure on which to operate such a large store.

When those services became available, right away they started to try finding land. Unfortunately for them, none of the land in the area was zoned for commercial use. They tried for 4 years to get it rezoned and lost. So they paid off a county official to seize our land. The county cited undocumented immigrants living there as the reason for seizing it. Since the land was then considered government-owned land and had not previously been zoned they could zone it however they chose.

This was devastating to my family. In the 11 years we spent there, my mom had had two more kids, my disabled grandmother had moved in with us, as had my aunt and uncle who had both lost their jobs, their two kids, and one of their kids girlfriends whose parents had kicked her out. That's ten people having to live off of one person's barely above minimum wage income.

After being forced off our land, my family had no choice but to go on food stamps. My mom couldn't afford food for two of us on her income 11 years before. There was no way that she could do so with 11 years' worth of inflation, and 8 more people to feed. My family lived on an income that managed to put us at 50% of the poverty line.

Ten years later, she is still struggling to make ends meet as a result of this unjust upheaval. She is still working. She is also still on food stamps. There was no possible way that my mom could have foreseen this happening and planned for the time when government and business conspired to take away her home.

She was, by their account, doing everything right. She was working a full time job. She was paying her bills on time. She was helping out others in need because she could afford to do so. We had to go on food stamps specifically because of policies that they support.

Land seizure on undocumented immigrants is one of the Romney campaign's supported policies. His website—the one he's always telling us to read—indicates he intends to fully comply with federal immigration laws that are already in place, which includes, per the Federal Immigration and Nationalities Act, penalties for being or harboring an undocumented immigrant that include forfeiture of any and all property held within the United States.

We were able to take care of ourselves until that policy was used against us.

When Mitt Romney says that he wants to cut food stamps, or talks about people on food stamps in the way he does, I want all of you to remember my story.

Mitt Romney does not think people are entitled to food, yet he thinks that corporations are entitled to the land on which other people live and sustain themselves.

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