The Question of “Illegal” Residence

This brief piece was prompted by a much-forwarded email regarding the owner of the Phoenix Suns opposition to Governor Jan Brewer’s controversial immigration law (and subsequent clones).

The Constitution is a piece of paper that says this and that and guarantees this and that. The problem is we have police and sheriffs, prosecutors and judges who bend, twist, and break this and that with every means their creative minds can conjure up. Our jails and prisons are filled with political prisoners. Not political prisoners in the sense that they represented opposition to local, state or federal laws or “the regime”. But in the sense that elected officials are more concerned with appeasing voter ignorance and prejudice rather than the high road of morality, right and wrong. It has been easily documented that people of color are more likely to be detained, arrested, prosecuted more vigorously and even over-zealously, found guilty and given proportionally more severe punishments.
Regarding the term “illegal”: It took the judicial system and society as a whole centuries to abandon the term “bastard” for a child born out of wedlock and to give him or her the same rights of inheritance as a so-called legitimate child. No laws can order a fetus terminated because the parents are not married. No child so born can be discriminated against or denied recognition as less than equal to any other child. I am opposed philosophically to borders period. The free movement of human beings to better their lives is a right as inalienable as the right to be born no matter how your mother and father are socially, religiously or legally related.
My paternal ancestors came here for religious freedom before there was any kind of government other than the local council. My maternal ancestors came here to escape persecution due to their ethnicity. The former didn’t get permission from the Indians to carve up their open lands. That made them, to my mind, “illegals”. The latter were “legal” because there were all kinds of immigration laws, many discriminatory, at that time.
We are all human beings and we inhabit a now very small planet. No one is more entitled to its resources more than another by rank, geography, skin color, language, culture, or any other measure of a man, woman or child. Each is judged according to his individual behavior in relationship to his neighbors. Yes, there are bad guys that come from Mexico. But we have enough home-grown bad guys such that we cannot discern by skin tone, dress, or accent who we want to live among us and who we’d rather not. I dread the day, and I can see the possibility of it, when I have to show my papers as my Russian ancestors had to do to keep from being taken to some interrogation center to prove I am who I say I am, and that I’m “legal”.

Fannie & Isaac Losak, my immigrant grandparents


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