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What of (illegal) immigrants?

November 8, 2007

I’m trying to figure out what I think of our national borders and what I think of immigration.  I found that the Virginia General Assembly is having trouble coming to any agreement about this issue.  Typically, I want people who come into the United States illegally not to take advantage of people who come into the United States legally.  I guess this means I would be in favor of withholding public services from illegal immigrants.  But I don’t want to be so harsh as to call them “illegals” or be so bold as to think of myself as inherently more deserving of my citizenship.

Virginia State Senator H. Russell Potts of Winchester is Republican, but he often sides with Democrats and is considered a maverick.  Surely, at least he is right that the federal government should handle this problem instead of having some illegal-immigration-friendly counties in some illegal-immigration-friendly states.  Who wants to live in an area that is pro-illegal-anything?

While they could have just passed a law stating, “It is illegal to be here if you are here illegally,”  some counties are passing “English-only” ordinances to make immigrants uncomfortable.  But this doesn’t distinguish between someone who is here legally or here illegally.  It only distinguishes between speakers of languages.  It is the politics of fear.  The publication of a newspaper in Spanish or a sign written in Spanish in a store window apparently has “residents” complaining.  But to associate language with who is a resident and who is not a resident is ridiculous to me.  The signs in the store windows are not even made on Culpepper County’s time or budget; that’s just a store owner’s prerogative.

The Washington Post reported in February on the Virginia senators’ inability to compromise on issues concerning illegal immigrants.

Potts isn’t optimistic that the two sides will agree on a compromise. He referred to a hypothetical story about a family that crosses the Mexican border with a child.

“What happens to the little child that comes across the border with his mother and father, and they have two children [in the United States], and the oldest child is a valedictorian? We are not going to let her go to James Madison, but we are going to let the other two go to James Madison?” Potts asked. “What am I missing here?”

It’s really strange that Potts asks what he is missing, when the story that he made up begins when a family illegally crosses the border.  Isn’t that the key?  The parents have set their child up to live in a country where they are not welcome.  Of course, I have found it true that something that seems obvious and key to me one day will be challenged the next day so I am trying to see both sides of the issue.  I must admit that I am in a privileged position and cannot assume that I have an objective sense of reality.

Remember Elián Gonzáles?  The local newscasters were pronouncing his name Alien Gonzales, which I thought was funny in a sad way.  He was too little to understand why his birthplace mattered so much.  He was used as a propaganda mascot by his distant relatives in Miami.  He was then returned to Cuba in June of 2000 and used as a propaganda mascot by Fidel Castro who made sure Elián was living the good life when the media ran a “where is he now” segment.  Who is to say where he is better off?

Presidential candidate Ron Paul’s solution is apparently to end the easy path to citizenship of just being born in the United States.  Now the law says, you just get born here and you can stay here.  But, how can a fetus decide where to be born?  Being born in a place is pretty chancy.  My husband was born into poverty in Peru.  He didn’t know he was going to be the 10th child out of 12 and that being born in another country might have given him other options.  Just by luck he was able to take advantage of Japan’s 1990 immigration policy, having Japanese ancestry and being an attractive potential (young but unskilled) worker at the time the laws were passed.  Other Peruvians have been able to buy false documentation and have been able to enter Japan using false surnames.  I’m not upset if someone in Japan who doesn’t have documents gets sent back to Peru.

I think people are afraid of a “crack-down” which could easily escalate and violate people’s human rights.  The image of armoured immigration officials busting into a factory and demanding that everyone produce their “papers” is scary, but if you are scared of “getting caught” because you are sin papeles then I think that fear is normal and good.  Did you count on “not getting caught” when you planned the illegal way you would earn a living?  If you do have your papers, what do you have to worry about?  Why do immigrants with papers stick up for immigrants without them?  And why did Elián’s relatives think they had any legal ground to stand on when Elián had been kidnapped from a home where he was arguably better off?  I have yet to understand that.

Ron Paul is against amnesty for those who are currently illegally living in the United States.  It is such a complicated issue, but I think that I agree with him.  I think people should be fearful of deportation, but the deportation itself should be carried out with respect for human rights.  It’s not as if working in the US is a “human right”.

Now living in the United States, my husband is on the legal path to citizenship because of his marriage to me.  That was also by chance if you really think about it.  I didn’t hold a lottery offering to rescue someone from a third world country.  Immigration, even when based on marriage to a citizen, is not “fair”.  Imagine if all other countries were communist and close enough for people to “swim” over.  Would everyone have amnesty?

My daughter was born in Japan, but is she Japanese?  No.  Ethnically she is 1/8 Japanese, but her citizenship was never in question.  In the hospital at her birth, and in the city hall two weeks after her birth, they asked me to choose her citizenship.  I had the choice between American because I am her mother (the mother’s citizenship has more legal clout in Japan) or dual citizenship as an American-Peruvian until she was able to make the choice for herself as an adult.  Japanese citizenship by right of birth was not an option.

In Japan, immigrants are foreigners and must accept their label as foreigner.  The only exceptions to this generalization that I have heard of are Debito Aruhido and Ana Bortz.  I experienced some racism while shopping in Hamamatsu, but I didn’t realize I could use the court system to change anything.  I guess I didn’t mind the racism because I chalked it up to becoming more worldly and less arrogant.  Also racism is not the issue I am even writing about.  Immigration is.  I wasn’t an immigrant, I was just a stranger in a strange land.

These are just some of the things that are rolling around in my head lately.

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12 Comments
  1. jer miner permalink
    November 8, 2007 7:28 pm

    edited by me to say: Because of the grammar and strangeness of this comment, I think it might be spam, but . . . oh well!

    Anyone born on the soil should ‘NOT’ be declared a American citizen….being an American citizen is a priveledge,
    and must be earned, if you were born of ” NON AMERICAN CITIZENS”, then you should be the same nationality as your parents.
    To apply for American citizenship is beautiful, so long as it was done legally…that is great….. Welcome to America !!!

    To issue (free citizenship) is a pure crime of our Congress who do it for “monetary’ gain, and to procure their illegal votes, since they can register from those state issued Drivers Licenses, they can than also buy weapons.
    Congress loves it because it allows them to vote ‘illegally’ instead of waiting to shove the ‘Amensty’ thing down our throats, since illegals they vote Democrat.

    Other than that monetary gain for themselves they have forgotten about their own constituency….
    This will cost many of them their cushy jobs.!!!

    Thus, the ‘invasion’ to us, by the ‘invaders’ who were NOT asked to come here , nor do we enjoy being “Forced” to pay for those who work, still earning less than the poverty level (and that applys to 70 % of them) so we MUST pay for their support…Why ?
    Mexico is a very very oil rich country, but unfortunately those in charge are keeping everything for themselves, and who push for their citizens to come to America, to live a good life, since we are so soft for illegals, and give them the whole “World” of freebies.

    These freebies are what has the American public so upset. We are a nation of givers, but NOT when we are forced to, not even having a say so in it..

    Everyone says that we cannot rid our selves of 18-30 million illegal aliens. I say B.S. !!!
    If we flush out the illegal alien (lovers) from our Congress,
    then we :
    Make a Federal FELONY Law (to enter,/ or remain) in this country, punishable by a 5 year ‘mandatory’ prison term,
    ( effective immediately, since it is only a misdeamnor to enter,
    but, a felony to remain.) We need it to: (ENTER (or) REMAIN.)
    Also stop the ‘freebies’ immediately,
    Heavily fine employers,
    Re-write the 14th amendment , or get a Scotus ruling that its
    intent was (only) for the slave babies, who were ‘forced’ to come here, (not invaders, as the illegals )
    Next, we build that fence for the entire length of the border….

    These illegals will “SELF-DEPORT”, After we imprison a few hundred of them at first, for violating the 5 year new law of remaining in the country, stand back and watch them flee back as fast as they used to come in….!! You can count on it.

    Congress wont go along with it, because they have sold their votes to Big Business…so we must ‘oust’ those who voted (for) the illegals. !!!

    Go to http://www.congressgrades.org and hit ‘immigration’ and see how your candidate voted, if “Yes” on immigratation, oust them, and vote some one else in…!!!

    Then we will be back in charge of our Country…
    You may want to also see how much we are paying
    for the support of the illegals , check out : http://www.immigrationcounters.com

  2. jer miner permalink
    November 9, 2007 3:09 pm

    Pray tell what do you find strange of the blog?

    It contains the most important needs to reclaim this Country, who never ‘invited’ these strangers, and then “forced ‘ to support then to the tune of $ 1.3 trillion per year ….You find that strange….?
    Perhaps you are the one who really doesnt understand the 78% of American citizens do not want them here,much less HAVING to support them…..
    I am not a piece of spam, but a true part of this revolting country.

  3. November 9, 2007 4:00 pm

    Thanks to my brother for pointing out this link to The Case for Open Immigration.

    http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/17/the-case-for-open-immigration-a-qa-with-philippe-legrain/

  4. November 9, 2007 4:26 pm

    jer miner, It was just my perception of what you wrote, it was not personal. I don’t think you are a piece of spam, but I do think your comments and grammar are strange. No offense.

  5. colorblindcupid permalink
    November 9, 2007 4:59 pm

    That was a great article. I’m in the open immigration camp though, so no wonder I liked it. Did you read the original Freakonomics book? It’s fascinating and a fun read, too.

    I swear Studs Turkel wrote a book with his interviews with immigrants, but I couldn’t find it on amazon, so I may be wrong. I wanted to read it – I think I saw it at B&N. But since I couldn’t remember, I can’t guarantee it was all immigrants though.

    (and I would have thought that was spam, too – like it’s been copied and pasted so many times the format got screwy.)

  6. November 9, 2007 7:38 pm

    I haven’t read Freakonomics, but now I will! 😉 Thanks for commenting colorblindcupid. You are welcome here anytime.

  7. November 9, 2007 11:51 pm

    jer miner…you are obviously very passionate about this.

    I would agree that Congress goes along with several things because of Big Business…I would have to disagree that Big Business would be the reason they would shun your solution. I think that Congress won’t get behind it because it goes against the spirit this country was founded upon…and also, because it would be stupid and expensive and God knows we’ve got enough of that already.

    While I find several points about the American Experiment a failure I would not classify this country as “revolting.” I would, however, describe the attitudes of its citizens, particularly those who are paranoid and bigoted…revolting.

  8. November 9, 2007 11:52 pm

    I meant that last line to read “the attitudes of SOME of its citizens…” ack, gotta go to bed.

  9. November 14, 2007 7:14 am

    I see that the governor of NY has caved to pressure to abandon his plan to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. That sure struck a nerve:
    http://www.newsweek.com/id/70462

  10. November 19, 2007 8:17 am

    Unfortunately, this is a high-profile case where common sense is over-shadowed by legalities and it looks like this couple will be deported after having lived in the US for more than 20 years:
    http://www.newsweek.com/id/70935

  11. You, madam, are no Sei Shonagon permalink
    January 8, 2008 7:01 pm

    You wrote: “I didn’t hold a lottery offering to rescue someone from a third world country. Immigration, even when based on marriage to a citizen, is not “fair”.”

    You didn’t find your husband by holding up a sign in the Plaza Mayor that said, “Busco buen hombre para amor caliente y hamburguesas”?

    I think finding one’s true love among the billions of humans in the world entitles you to bring that person to the U.S. to stay. Call me quixotic.

  12. January 9, 2008 9:12 am

    Madam, I would have been trampled if I had done that! Actually, our marriage certificate was confiscated by the “town hall” in Tokyo and went through a review process. I think that they suspected we were entering into the marriage under suspicious circumstances because of our nationalities.

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