Thursday, January 7, 2010

Texas adoptee deported

Here's an article about a Mexican adoptee who was deported. The adoptee's sister says:

"He is not an undocumented immigrant," McMillan said. "He did not falsify any documents. He didn’t sneak over here. He is an American."

Too often we immigrants are divided into categories judged as "good" or "bad" like McMillan implies.

Good ones have a paper that says we paid money to enter the country. Receipts for the fees we paid for visas and doctor's exams. Bank statements that say we have enough money. A diploma that says we're trained professionals and educated. A visa or green card that shows an expiration date, which keeps the government informed of our movements. They're here looking for Freedom, Opportunity, and the American Dream.

Bad immigrants pay money to snakeheads, coyotes, or government officials and leave no paper trails. They often have had their education interrupted by the need to work, violence, or come from a culture that still values practical knowledge and physical labor over formal education.They live semi-clandestine lives that doesn't attract the attention of ICE. They're here to take American jobs, commit crimes, and change the American Way of Life. They broke the law by not going through the correct channels.

This division of immigrants into good and bad seems to be more rational than people who are just anti-immigrant because they're not xenophobic bigots, they're just people who expect everyone to follow the rules. But, laws are not always just. Some laws are justifiably broken when they are inhumane and unfair. Slavery was legal, and some people broke the law by stealing human chattel and brought them to freedom. Segregation was legal and some people broke the law by sitting in the front of the bus and at lunch counters for Whites Only. If you put immigrants into good and bad categories, how do you classify the Underground Railroad conductors and intrepid Civil Rights pioneers? 

What about immigrants with all the receipts and papers who get in trouble with the law? What about those without documentation who work hard, raise their children and send them to college, and are valuable members of their communities? What about those of us whose legal documents were completed by criminals on our behalf? Where should we be categorized?