Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Amnesty, Shamnesty!

Yesterday it was announced that a dozen 7-11 mini marts had been raided on the East Coast and dozens of "illegal aliens" have been rounded up for deportation.

At the same time, Republicans in the House are doing their usual frothing-at-the-mouth in hatred of what they call "amnesty", meaning that anyone here without legal status will get to stay here only over their dead GOP bodies.  (Gosh, that would be sweet!)

These perceived "criminals" must NOT get "amnesty", the GOP vows.  It chokes in the GOP craw.  Well, stop choking, you self-righteous Republican members of the House.  These immigrants are not "criminals".  They have broken no criminal law just by being here in the USA.  It is not a crime  -  I repeat,  "NOT a crime"  -   just to be here without having walked through the process.  It is merely a civil offense, does not go to criminal court, and has no punishment except deportation.

You got that, GOP?  They are not criminals.  Nor are they sinners.  They did what all law and religions allow:  they sought to save themselves and their families from either violence or hunger or sometimes both.   One has the right to do this, the absolute right.  A great theologian said in the supposedly backwards Middle Ages, "If man must steal bread to feed his family because he can get no work, the sin is not his but society's."

It's called the doctrine of dire necessity.  Absent dire necessity, do you Republicans really believe that people, other than wildly ambitious young techies, pick up and leave family, hometown, friends, culture, their own food, their own language  -  all they know and hold dear  -  without very serious provocation?  It's wrenchingly hard to migrate under the best of circumstances.  But it's certainly a lot harder to trust oneself and one's money to the ruthless "coyote" or to cross the harsh desert, with every chance of dying under the sun like many who have gone before.  And what of those who have huddled in the darkness and near airlessness of cargo containers for the long journey across the Pacific?

Poor souls. What you have gone through to get here.  And since.  I remember the newspaper stories over the decades of the ratty farm trucks that crashed with a dozen or more immigrants dead.  Of the mothers or fathers who left their children behind, south of the border so they could earn money and send it home.  I remember talking with  the New York City cab driver who had left his family forty years ago in Algiers so he could earn the money to feed them.  He couldn't see them ever again, but they didn't go hungry.

We should honor these people.  They are extraordinarily brave and good.  Not all of them, of course.  But the majority.  I know because I have known them.  Before I lived here in Central Pennsylvania, I was blessed with the Latinos and Asians of California as friends and neighbors and fellow fighters in the good fight.  Vaya con Dios, mis amigos!

So now several dozen of you have been "rounded up" as "illegals" and face deportation.  In what may be the closing hours before immigration reform, you may be the last victims of treating people like cattle and "rounding them up".

Come back!  If they deport you, come back!  Cross the desert again.  Brave the coyote again.  Don't give up.  We need you.  And some of us even want you.  You make this country great.  You bring energy and determination and a beautiful culture.  You are beautiful!  Don't abandon us!  Come back!

Give America another chance.  Grant it amnesty for its sins against you in turning you away when you had come so far and suffered so much.


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