I was an illegal immigrant: honestly!

Green CardThe current debate in Washington on alternatives to ‘solve’ the problem of illegal immigration reminds me of my own checkered history of living here for seven years without a green card. I was fortunate in my timing and in my profile – arriving in 1980 on a tourist visa that I let expire, with a valid Social Security from my graduate student days a few years earlier, and not being Mexican, I found it a simple matter to get work and launch my career in Silicon Valley. In those pre-9/11 days no employer wanted to see more than a Social Security card and drivers license. In 1986 it was all put to rights by the Amnesty program, I got my green card the same month I got married, and I’m now a US citizen.

Of course, I was unable to leave the country and travel to visit my family in the UK for a long time. But apart from that inconvenience I lived a normal life. I was well aware of the truth of Dylan’s line that to live outside the law you must be honest. Paid my taxes, didn’t jay-walk, went to Church on Sundays.

I wouldn’t recommend doing this today, no more than I would recommend hitch-hiking across the country. But there are clearly two sides to the ‘morality’ of entering America illegally. As Tonto probably said to the Lone Ranger Whose law are you breaking anyway, white man?

Jacob Weisbeg remarked on the paradox of anti-immigrant sentiment in a country built by immigration in Wednesday’s Financial Times:

America has always tolerated such flawed but functional arrangements when it comes to immigration. The country was built by people who did not wait for engraved invitations. New arrivals draw inevitable hostility from native-born workers with whom they compete for jobs, even though the native-born can often recall an immigrant family saga themselves. As a result, the national attitude toward immigration remains marked by ambivalence. We need their muscle. We admire their pluck and sacrifice. At the same time, we object to having to compete with them, we resent their differences and we doubt their commitment to our values. America’s immigration policies will never be fully rational because feelings about a process so central to the American experience will always contain an element of contradiction.

I wish the current crop of immigrants well. As for those who by an accident of birth are Born in the USA, they should decide what they want more. A country of pure-breds? In that case are you willing to spend more for child-care, clean offices, lettuce, strawberries and asparagus? If you demand 99-cent lettuce and there are employers willing to pay illegals to pick the crops in their fields then don’t bitch about your borders.

Bookmark and Share

5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Ian, saw your comment at Nick Carr’s and enjoyed your post above

You may enjoy this post of mine

http://dealarchitect.typepad.com/deal_architect/2006/04/as_american_as_.html

and one more recent on Lou Dobbs

http://dealarchitect.typepad.com/deal_architect/2006/04/revved_up_like_.html

[…] I wonder how many other cultural chameleons are out there? Perhaps there’s some illegal immigrant in the USA (a role I know well) hanging out on an Ivy League campus carefully mimicking the tones of Yale graduate President Bush? Maybe they succeed, like Dubya, in disguising their origins. Technorati Tags: :Stopford, Beatles, Buckingham, charles stopford, Cultural Differences, Culture Shock!, England, Lord Buckingham, lord christopher buckingham, Orlando […]

I, by what you call an accident of birth, was born in the USA. I, like most that are born in the USA, respect the rule of law. Without adherance to laws you have chaos. I don’t want chaos. You probably think I’m a racist.

I’m a white guy who doesn’t want foreign born people crossing my border illegally, especially by the millions, therefor, I must be racist, right? I think my wife Conception, and my best friend, Mr. J. Gomez would disagree.

I believe that the traditions, customs and language of the United States of America represent a distinctive American culture that is unique to the United States.

I believe that the American culture is a product of the fundamental principles of self-government, self-reliance, liberty and justice as set forth by our founders in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

These guiding principles and the shared experience of the American people over two centuries, in war and peace and in times of hardship and plenty, have created the uniquely American Heritage.

I feel a duty to protect and preserve the common heritage, traditions, and language of America. I’m sure you would feel the same about your home country. Imagine another culture crossing the borders of your home country illegally, by the millions. How would you feel about it?

The United States of America is a Sovereign Nation with the right to accept or reject any application for citizenship. I am not trying to take away anyone’s rights. Millions of people are trying to strip the USA of its sovereign rights.

I look forward to your reply. I hope we can have an honest and open discussion about this issue.

[…] Wonderful letter in the Financial Times that highlights the dilemma presented by illegal aliens (such as Superman and me) who land on American shores and become productive members of society. Here, in its entirety, is what Mr. Branko Terzic writes: From Mr Branko Terzic. […]

The debate continues, and not only in the US. Here’s Michael Skapinker in the Financial Times (Jul 14, 2016) responding to the anti-immigrant sentiment in the recent UK ‘Brexit’ vote:

Like everyone else, most immigrants work, pay their taxes and obey the law. And while you, our fellow UK residents, decide what to do with us after Brexit, let us remind you what we have done.

We have run your companies, cleaned your offices, wheeled you into surgery, performed the surgery, sung lullabies to your children, taught physics to your children, designed your buildings, built your buildings, cooked your food, waited on your tables, stormed to Olympic medals, won Nobel Prizes, designed your websites, picked your fruit and wiped your ageing parents’ bottoms.

Well said!



Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

(required)

(required)



three + 6 =