Friday, March 06, 2009

What Part Of “Illegal Immigrant” Do You Take Exception To?

Last night the Colorado Legislature’s Education Committee voted to grant in-state tuition at Colorado Universities to illegal immigrants who attended Colorado schools. Okay, I’m a pretty liberal guy when it comes to social issues, but this just really yanks my chain!

Please! Tell me how is it that you justify giving a benefit to someone who is breaking the law‽ Let’s see if I have this logic right. They are here illegally, but since they have been here long enough to attend a primary or secondary school in Colorado, we’re going to make it cheaper to stay longer and attend a college.

Where is the logic in that? If we know that they are here illegally, we should encourage them to go to their country of origin and apply for entry through legal channels. By giving them a price break on their tuition as if they were a legal resident of the state you are encouraging them to stay illegal! What's next? Specially provided carts for shoplifters?

No! You know what; there are plenty of people who speed down the road I live on. A good number of them speed because they have never been ticketed; they think they are immune to punishment. So let’s just give them a certificate that allows them to keep driving as fast as they want through that school zone that is directly outside my home! That’ll teach ‘em! I mean, I am sure that once we have given out a few hundred certificates allowing people to drive as fast as they want past that school the speeding problem will be resolved!

Oh, and when did they become “undocumented aliens?” Alien residents are required by law to be documented. They must have a work permit, a green card, or at the very least a visa that allows them to be here. Therefore, any alien who is in this country without documentation is, ipso facto, here illegally. They are therefore, illegal immigrants. Let’s not try the linguistic slight of hand! (Would that be slight of tongue?)

Being someone who legally went through channels to live and work in a foreign country, I can tell you the process is not all that arduous! I hope that the Colorado Legislature on the whole is a bit more restrained… Please do not pass this bill on! There is a reason they are called “illegal immigrants!”

Wherever you are today, I hope you’re happy, safe, and legally wherever you happen to be!

Don Bergquist – March 06, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA


Anonymous said...

Es muy dificil por muchas personas a apprender estos coses. Necessitamos dinero para vivir. Con educacion podemos ganar mas dinero. Pienso que es muy buene esta cose que la State of Colorado quiere hacer. Usted es muy intelligente, pero en esta cosa, pienso que usted no tiene razon.

Don Bergquist said...

My dear anonymous reader:

How rude of you to respond in Spanish so that my audience cannot understand. I guess it is my understanding of Spanish as it is spoken in Miami which makes me jump to the conclusion that you, yourself, are not a native speaker, but when you say that it is "difficult for many to learn those things" you build the sentence as if you were looking it up.

Idiomatically, I was taught to say "Hay muy difícil para muchas gente para aprender estos cosas." Furthermore, by reading an article written in English and choosing to answer in Spanish (of a sort) you betray your intent to be snarky.

I assume that what you were trying to say was something along the line of: "It is very difficult for many people to learn those things. With education it is possible for us to earn more money. I think it is very good, this thing that Colorado wants to do." If I understand your intent you go on to compliment me on my intelligence but state that you think that in this one thing I have no reason… (to think what I do, perhaps?)

Be that as it may, you have a right, to speak your mind (in whatever language you would care to do so in) but that right is granted to you by the laws of the United States. Perhaps you misunderstood the intent of my message. I could care less what ethnicity you are if you are in this country legally, you have been granted rights and responsibilities that must be observed. If you are here illegally, no such rights or privileges exist.

In the issue I think you’re arguing, that education is a good thing, we agree whole-heartedly. A school locally has been given a set of textbooks that they intend to use which are written in Spanish. I say more power to them! It has caused a backlash in the community, but having traveled I can tell you that Americans could stand to learn a bit more about the world beyond our borders. It is fairly rare to meet polyglot here. That is not so abroad. In some countries in the European Union, they learn three languages before they get to grammar school!

Education is a good thing. Illegal immigration is a bad thing. If we want to change the immigration rules that is one thing, but to grant benefits to someone who is hear illegally is a horse of a different color.

Thank you for your comments, dear anonymous reader.


Anonymous said...

Hi - In a way I felt I was, like you say, being "snarky" in my comment to your blog, but in a way I didn't think that I was. (And by the way since starting to read your blog I've learned a lot of new words) - In fact, I didn't know what "snarky" meant until I just looked it up a couple of minutes ago).

I didn't think my comments were sarcastic (or witty) because I think a lot of illegal immigrants (and their children) feel that what they are doing is really no more illegal than the things that some of their bosses do and the things that other people they meet or hear about do. They feel that what they do is no worse than what people do who are in this country legally but who live their lives illegally (such as a public figure who recently stated on national television that corruption is just part of political life in our country - I think he said that corruption is how you get things done or something like that). For the illegal immigrant (and their children who are now a part of our system [de facto, de juro, etc]), the important thing to them at this point is how to get ahead and to make the most of the abilities that they have. They know there is corruption here and they may feel that they are being signaled out and treated unfairly when they do not have the same rights that other people have when it comes to education.

I think the thing I don't understand (and that I may be wrong on) is why you might think it is ok to "look the other way" at some types of corruption and illegal activity by popular public features and business people (as long as they get away with it) and then be rough on the people who work for these people and other dishonest people illegally. I might be wrong on that part. It is hard for me to see the difference. Illegal is illegal.

By the way, instead of "apprender" (to learn) I meant to say "comprender (to understand). I didn't mean to say you don't "learn" the situation but meant to say that you don't "understand" the situation. And when I said "no tiene razon" I didn't mean you had no reason or logic in your thinking. I meant to say that I thought you were wrong (not hold right) on this issue (maybe it is "no tiene raison" and not "no tiene razon").

Thank you for posting my comment,
Anonymous Reader

Don Bergquist said...

Dear anonymous reader:

Thanks again for your comments. This is why I write the blog. It started as a way to communicate back to my family while I was living abroad, but I like to keep it up periodically so that I can have dialog with people like your good self.

I’m glad that you find my writing interesting (at least occasionally) and educational.

The snarkiness I was referring to was your tongue-in-cheek responding in Spanish when it could not be logically inferred that a response in English would not be possible. Since you had read the original screed in English, presumably, you would have been able to respond in kind.

While I can appreciate the desire people have to live abroad (for personal, political, or economic reasons - I would have loved to stay in the UK) I must also admit that this country, and every other country I have ever been to, controls its borders and has rules for acceptable entry. Immigration laws, right, wrong, or indifferent are never-the-less, the law of the land. Laws are there to protect the public good, and to have a law and then brazenly ignore it sends a mixed message.

Your comment in the second paragraph of your response is an interesting one from an existential point of view, but legally has no foundation.

You write: "I think a lot of illegal immigrants (and their children) feel that what they are doing is really no more illegal than the things that some of their bosses do"

While it may be true that the illegal immigrants do not feel that they are doing anything wrong, this is immaterial. They have violated the law in not entering the country in the prescribed manner. You may not feel it is wrong to drive sixty miles-per-hour past the school next to my home. I think that the Lakewood Police Department may disagree.

Your second point, that the bosses who hire illegal immigrants are also violating the law holds no sway. Your speeding through the school zone does not mitigate my arson. We've both violated the law. In much the same way, it was a crime for the illegal immigrant to enter the country without the required visa; it was illegal for the employer to hire the undocumented worker. The employment laws here have clearly stated from the eighties that you must provide proof of documentation to work in this country. I've been with the same firm (or one of the companies that conglomerated into my current firm) for nineteen years. I have been asked to provide documentation three times over they years as the law has changed. Had my employer failed to update my documentation over the years they would have been breaking the law.

I do not wish to imply that I don't know that there is a lot of illegal stuff that goes on. If there weren't, the duties of the police department would be helping kittens out of trees and giving out directions.

Your third paragraph ends with a beautiful synopsis of the point of my original missive: "Illegal is illegal." I'm not sure why you think I don't get this. I was not suggesting that we "look the other way" on the other crime, I was merely stating that my allowing illegal aliens to attend our schools and reward them with in-state tuition rates is an odd notion to me as the legislature, in doing so, seems to be saying "We don't care that you broke the law to get here, you're breaking the law staying here… but hey, here's a little perk for the successful criminal: Reduced tuition!"

Illegal is illegal. My stand is if you are not planning on enforcing the law then it would be better to revise those laws or annul them altogether. This being (apparently) an unrealistic expectation, is it too much to ask not to have laws passed which flagrantly contradict other laws?

And on the point of the parenthetical comment you and the proponents of the bill keep using, I believe that these are superfluous. There are three possibilities here: Persons A&B and their child all entered illegally; Persons A&B entered illegally and then had their child (Person C) here; Persons A&B entered illegally but (somehow) their child entered legally. In the first case Person C is a citizen, this law has no affect. In the second, Person C is illegal and this is where we get into the legal morass we have been contemplating. In the final situation, Person C is here legally and again, this law has no affect. Since it is only the middle case that the law would be in effect there is no reason to add the "(and their children)" comment.

I'll admit, I may not fully understand the finer points of the situation, but in broad strokes, it boils down to a simple concept. We have a federal law which prescribes entry requirements and procedures. People who do not follow these procedures are breaking the law. The Colorado legislature wants to grant these people perks for being successful in their criminal behavior. Either enforce the law or change it. Don't make a law that violates the laws already on the books.

That was my point.

Thanks again for your comments.