Sunday, May 06, 2007

Legal Immigrant support Farmer's Branch ordinance

She's an immigrant herself

12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, May 6, 2007
By STEPHANIE SANDOVAL / The Dallas Morning News

As an immigrant who spent years trying to get her five children into the country legally, Yvonne Gwyn has little tolerance for those who enter the country illegally.

But her support of the proposed Farmers Branch ordinance is mostly about jobs. The 57-year-old Honduras-born woman ekes out a living with a mobile automotive detailing business and domestic cleaning.

But clients often go with cheaper illegal-immigrant labor, she said, leaving her struggling to pay the bills.

"Why can these people get all these jobs? I'm a citizen and pay taxes and can't find no jobs," she said. "I can't find no jobs because they work cheap."

Drug scandal victim

It's frustrating for a woman who is still trying to piece her life together after being caught up in the Dallas police fake drug scandal of 2001.

Together, the hardships of her life have left her with a strong attitude toward illegal immigrants.

Ms. Gwyn, now a U.S. citizen, came to the United States in 1974 after marrying a U.S. citizen she met in Guatemala.

She lived in North Carolina and Florida before settling in Dallas, then moved to Farmers Branch nine months ago. Along the way, she helped her five children secure the paperwork to come to the United States.

"Everybody works and pays taxes. That's what people have to do," she said.

While in Dallas, she owned a mechanic shop and carwash.

One day, a customer left a car at her shop. Based on an informant's tip, police found more than 64 pounds of fake cocaine and methamphetamine in the car, and they arrested her on charges of first-degree felony drug possession. She spent about three months in jail awaiting trial.

Ms. Gwyn was among more than two dozen arrested in the fake-drug scandal. Charges were dismissed, but the incident put her in a tailspin of depression. She was unable to work, lost her business, and relied on her attorney and the goodwill of a landlord for a place to live until a lawsuit with the city was settled.

After attorneys' fees, she ended up with just under $220,000.

She feels the amount should have been larger, and she blames that on a rush to settle the lawsuit by the illegal immigrants who were also arrested in the scandal.

"The illegals, they were scared," she said.

Unique perspective

David Koch, a Farmers Branch City Council candidate who is a staunch supporter of Ordinance 2903, said Ms. Gwyn is among a large number of legal immigrants who support the measure.

He met Ms. Gwyn when she hosted a gathering for neighbors to meet Mr. Koch and City Council member Tim Scott, who leads the political action committee campaigning in support of the ordinance.

He said Ms. Gwyn is a woman who believes in giving more to the system than she takes and is adamant that others who come to the United States should do so legally.

"She's a very hard worker, very dedicated and committed to America, to make it a better place, and adopting it as her home country," Mr. Koch said. "It's a tremendous perspective many of us won't ever have."


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