It is really bizzare to watch the contortions of the anti-immigrant crowd as they try to justify their twisted logic in trying to shut this country out from immigrants. They are the Blame Children First crowd because they would say that if a child comes here at, say, 4 years old, they are an illegal alien who is just trying to take away our jobs. Since when can a 4-year-old child decide that they will come here to take away our jobs and our way of life?
Take the case of Dan-el Padilla, profiled in this weekend's Wall Street Journal.
He came here from the Dominican Republic with his parents at the age of 4. His father abandoned him at a young age and returned to the Dominican Republic. Despite all this, he was a talented and gifted child. He learned Latin, was able to recite facts about his home country perfectly, was way ahead of the class in math, and was able to read classical Western literature with perfect comprehension by the age of 10. He was admitted to Princeton, where he was able to get a degree and is eligible for an Oxford scholarship as well. But for all that, he faces deportation. All because White Supremacist John Tanton and his neo-nazi, right-wing, and other allies say that it is somehow his fault that he did file the proper paperwork at 4 years of age.
Now, Padilla's fate in uncertain. Should he try for Oxford, even though he might not get into the UK, and he would not be able to come back to the US for 10 years? Should he go back to the Dominican Republic and work for $2 a day at some sweatshop? Or should he go and work for $3 an hour for 16 hours a day at some factory here in the US?
The Blame Children First crowd does not understand that when they complain about people trying to take away our jobs, they are destroying people's lives in the process, both physically and spiritually. Instead of working on ways of fixing our broken immigration system, they try to advocate for building walls and creating Fortress America, at a cost of billions or even trillions of taxpayer dollars. Then, they set up the straw man of Atzlan, ignoring the simple fact that it is a spiritual liberation, not a violent revolution.
And the Blame Children First crowd's "solution" simply doesn't work. Their dream scenario would be closing the borders to barely a trickle. But they ignore the simple fact that the INS staff can't comprehend or process the paperwork, let alone the people trying to apply. For example, Padilla's parents came here in order to get medical treatment for complications for their newborn son, Dan-el's brother. But they were ripped off by some private firm who scammed them out of the money they paid them to help fill out a form requesting an extension and left with no money left over. Thus, they were left in legal limbo - they couldn't pay for the fare back to the Dominican Republic, and they couldn't stay here under the eyes of the law. Eventually, the father dumped on them and went back on his own, leaving them with no choice but to squeak by on welfare checks.
So, why is it the child's fault that they do not have the right papers? Why should they have to pay for their parent's mistakes, or the mistakes of the INS? That is totally contrary to our American values. It is totally bizzare and unconstitutional for someone else to have to pay for the mistakes of their parents and the governments. That is like the gas attendant who says, "whoops, I spilled your gas. That will cost another $15."
And the right-wing fundamentalists who are part of the Blame Children First crowd are even more guilty because under their own standards, they are under judgement. Their own Bible teaches that we should suffer children to come to us, to show hospitality to strangers, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and help them to live better lives. But apparently, that does not apply to immigrants in their book. Thus, they are guilty of selective interpretation of the Bible.
The Bible itself pronounces judgement on people like Phyllis Schlafly who take away parts of the Bible that do not fit their preconceived notions. And it reverves equally harsh judgement on people like Emperor Dobson, who is sitting on the fence on this issue. Dobson is the one who laments about the decline in the sanctity of human life. But then, he goes silent when immigration comes up.
People like Padilla are simply pawns in a larger power game among these people. They are not people with wants, dreams, hopes, and aspirations. Instead, they are labels such as "illegals," "criminals," "identity thieves," "opportunists," or other such nonsense. This is not merely another issue for as - as Democrats, this is an essential issue of our party - we believe in the equality of all people. Howard Dean himself said that we can never let people like Tanton and his White Supremacist allies divide our party by playing off two different classes of people and saying that caring for American workers and caring for immigrants are somehow mutually exclusive.
The choice is clear - do you want to continue to let yourself be used by White Supremacist hatemongers like Tanton? If you do, then you have learned nothing about the history of how the right-wingers scapegoat people. Do you want to continue to make things up about where I stand or where others stand on the issue? Then, enjoy your straw men - I would be happy to supply you with one you can scream at.
There is plenty of room for policy disagreements on immigration. But belief in the equality of all people is one thing that is not negotiable if you want to be considered a Democrat. And it will not do any good to claim that Padilla's parents should have applied for a visa - they actually did. And for many others, they would not have gotten that chance - getting such a visa would cost far beyond their means.
The Republicans have been in power for six years now. They ran on the basis of making government more efficient and focusing on quality of government rather than quantity. But they have not delivered.. Instead, the INS has gotten more broken and more inefficient than ever. They can no longer blame the Democrats in power. Therefore, they have no excuses anymore.