May 8, 2014

Cheerios and Immigration

Earlier this month I bought a box of Cheerios that had a bilingual book inside it.  It’s been a long time since I got a prize in cereal, so I was anxious to get it out and read it.  The name of the book, in English, is “Chicks Run Wild.”  In Spanish it is “los Pollitos Hacen De Las Suyas”.   I’m thankful for the translation because my boarding school Spanish is not up to it.  Inside the cover there is a bookplate which says “Este libro es propiedad de: ____________”   I did not fill in my name.  It also says “Cortesia de Cheerios” and, at the bottom, “Spoonful of Stories.”

Since adult me had never received a book of any kind in my Cheerios box, let alone a bilingual book,” I googled it.  It turns out that Cheerios has been doing this for 11 years, and has distributed more than 70 million free books over that time.  Surprised me!  Soon they will be putting 3 million chapter books for older kids in boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios.   They do this in cooperation with Simon and Schuster and an organization called “First Book,”  whose slogan is “The power of children’s books to change the world.”

This is an honorable thing for General Mills to do, but they are not dumb.  As of the 2010 Census, the Hispanic population in the United States had grown (from 14 different countries of origin) to 53,027,708.   By 2043, whites will have  lost their majority status in our country.

And yet the Republicans say there will be no immigration bill this year. Although the Senate already passed a bill, Speaker Boehner says House Republicans are not prepared to move forward in partnership with a Democratic administration that they believe will not fairly and impartially carry out the laws they pass.  This is just another dodge not to take up something unpopular with  a vocal minority in the Republican Party.

The Florida House on Friday gave final approval to a bill granting in-state tuition to the children of some immigrants in the country illegally, prompting  former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush  to criticize Washington lawmakers — including members of his own party — for the lack of action on immigration reform.  “Florida succeeded in doing what the federal government has failed to do — take real steps to address our nation’s serious immigration challenges,” Bush said.

Poll after poll shows that most Americans want to see immigration reform.  Companies and leaders like Cheerios, Gates, Bloomberg, Motorola, Coco Cola, Caterpillar and Marriott — even the CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce  – support it.  It would be bad if immigration reform got left to the States (Florida) and we ended up with some kind of crazy quilt of laws.  Americans are not divided on immigration.  Companies like Cheerios will continue to speak to the growing Hispanic audience.  They should send boxes of Cheerios with bilingual books to the members of the House, specifically John Boehner.And remind him that immigrant populations are biggest in states with lots of people and lots of electoral votes:  California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois.  There are none bigger.


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Gloria. Circa 1955.

Gloria. Circa 2012.

Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.

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