Down in the valley - Manteca, Modesto, Hanford, Bakersfield, Fresno, Stockton, Turlock, and virtually every other community - is where the proverbial rubber hits the road in terms of immigration whether it is legal or otherwise.
It is where people with the last name Martinez and Gonzalez ask pointed questions.
One from a fifth generation California family carrying the surname Martinez wanted to know why her son had to sign up for the draft in order to get financial aid for college yet a child brought illegally into this country by parents that are also here illegally can get financial aid without signing up for the draft.
Another is from the first generation American son of a couple with the surname Gonzalez who came here with a green card, worked in the fields, and started their own business. The son committed low-level drug crimes. He was arrested, convicted and served several years in prison. He's been out for a decade. He's got his act together. He works, supports his family, goes to church and is active in his kids' lives. He admits he's made mistakes, paid his debt to society, and has moved on. His question is simple: How can anyone pursue policies that give illegals who committed the same crimes he did - and "paid" for - the chance to be given amnesty to become American citizens?
Then there are other questions.
• How can you ignore that a lot of workers that make it possible for the San Joaquin Valley to produce the vast majority of this nation's fruits, vegetables and nuts are illegals but so are a lot of other people doing honest work?
• Why would we want to deport hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of young people that we as a community, state, and/or nation have paid to educate and make sure they grow up to be healthy - so they can power economic growth in a country that isn't their home so that country can compete with the United States in world markets?
• Why should those who chose to come here illegally get express service to American citizenship or a green card without going through the same steps and vetting process as those who immigrated here legally?
It is why there wasn't much cheering or groaning in the valley over the 4-4 decision of the Supreme Court last week that blocked President Obama's executive order granting "deferred action" status to illegal immigrants that are parents of American citizens - basically those here illegally whose children were born here and therefore are citizens - and those with green cards.
The number involved with the Obama order is 5 million out of the 11 million estimated illegals in this country.
Obama - to his credit - attempted to do something given Congress' inability to do so. But it is clear that real change needs to be done within the process. And as it stands, the high court has sided with those who astutely pointed out the administration exceeded its authority. There is no legal justification to seize the powers of another branch of government. While many may not like the outcome and would argue the ends justify the means, how would they view the world if all of a sudden we have a president that assumed the power of the high court and issued edicts declaring the court had shirked its duties and therefore is irrelevant allowing him/her to act because the court couldn't get their act together and make rulings.
Like it or not true - and lasting - immigration reform requires an act of Congress.
We need to stop conferring virtually all rights of citizenship on those who are here illegally.
The next president needs to answer two questions:
• How can you justify requiring Americans to sign up for the draft in order to get federal assistance for college yet many colleges give financial aid to illegals that don't have to subject themselves to the draft?
• How can you justify tossing out billions upon billions of American tax dollars invested in educating young people and even making sure they were healthy by kicking them out?
If they can answer both questions with two words "they can't" then there is hope we actually might get a pragmatic leader in the White House instead of a pandering, mega-ego maniac political hack.
As it stands now based on their non-stop campaign rhetoric neither major candidate can.