What's All This Then?

commentary on the passing parade

Agree? Disagree? Tell me

My Other Blog

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Normally I sympathize with illegal aliens from Mexico who have been here a long time - then get caught and sent back. I would normally sympathize because if they’re working steadily, there’s obviously a need for their services and it’s a shame that they couldn’t come to this country legally without having to wait an unconscionable number of years.

But I have little or no sympathy for Elvira Arellano, who is defying a deportation order by hiding in a church and claiming "sanctuary." Elvira is a repeat offender, having been sent back to Mexico once before, only to sneak across the border again. Her illegal status was once again discovered in 2002 during an immigration sweep at O’Hare Airport, where she was working with a fake social security number. Because she is a single mother with a son who has medical problems, she’s been granted three stays of deportation - but her son is doing better and the authorities are now trying to execute the order.

During those stays - going on four years since she was re-arrested - she’s become an "activist" on behalf of other illegals awaiting deportation. Her illegal status being out in the open, she had no need to continue to hide and work with using fake documents. Instead, she began to claim "rights" that she and those like her did not have and to which she was not entitled.

Because her son was born here, she is now looking for sympathy based on the immorality of a law that presents people like her with the horrible choice of either abandoning her son or succumbing to him - an American citizen - being kicked out of his own country. It makes for a sympathetic picture - except that I find her more arrogant than sympathetic.

Up to now, she has been allowed to stay here because Dick Durbin and other Illinois officials went to bat on her behalf. But now, even the liberal Durbin has backed off - probably realizing that if he persists in battling on her behalf, thousands of others in the same situation will conclude that they’re entitled to the same consideration - especially if they too have kids who are American citizens.

And that citizenship is really the only thing that Elvira and fellow illegals who are parents of citizens have going for them in a quasi-legal manner. And it’s probably a situation that we should seriously consider changing. The business of conferring automatic citizenship on anyone born on US soil. This is not a universal right and there are many countries that do not award citizenship just because a child is born within its borders. That used to be the case with our close ally, the United Kingdom, but since 1983 they have adopted a more realistic policy of requiring that at least one parent be a British subject or that the parents are permanent, legal residents.

Think of what it means to confer citizenship on someone because of the accident of their birth - or perhaps because of the deliberate planning of their place of birth. Madelaine Allbright and Henry Kissinger could both be Secretaries of State - as indeed they were, but neither could ever have become president. - Allbright having been born in Czechoslovakia and Kissinger in Germany. But there could one day be a President Saul Arellano because he qualifies as a native born US citizen - whether or not his mother is both an illegal alien and - at the moment - a fugitive from justice.

There is something very wrong here. I doubt that the framers of the Constitution had someone like Elvira or any other foreign national visitor to the United States, legal or illegal in mind, when they determined who was entitled to US citizenship. A pregnant woman on vacation from any part of the world, could give birth while she’s here and her offspring has that automatic and precious citizenship. How many people may have come here deliberately to accomplish just that purpose and does anyone try to stop them even when the intent is obvious?

In Elvira’s case, the very fact that she has chosen to become an activist, appealing to everyone in sight to support her "cause" - makes it all the more imperative that she be given no more consideration than other, non-activist illegals, and sent back to Mexico as soon as possible. There is no question that the problem of millions of illegal aliens in the United States can’t be solved by rounding them all up and deporting them to the countries from which they came. There’s no way in the world that they can all be found - nor do we have the manpower or the funding to accomplish such a Herculean task. But when one is found and the case results in the kind of massive publicity generated by Elvira - not treating her according to existing immigration laws would make a mockery of any efforts to come to grips with any problems that may exist with those laws.

The church housing and protecting Elvira is doing nothing noble - nor are the clergy and various other "do gooders" supporting her "right" to stay here helping whatever cause she purports to represent. She needs to surrender to the authorities, return to Mexico and continue her efforts to become a legal US resident from there as millions of other foreign born US citizens have done for decades. She could take Saul with her or leave him here as a ward of the state. And consider herself lucky that we have such an easy way for anyone to be a US citizen and that - for the moment at least - the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States, remains intact.