A full time college student in Florida recently announced his status as an illegal immigrant at a public rally. Jose Salcedo, an elite student at Miami Dade College, fearlessly proclaimed his ‘undocumented’ status in what was said to be a rally of support for the proposed, and recently delayed, DREAM Act. The Dream Act proposes that illegal immigrants brought here when they were babies, toddlers or teens who end up enrolled in college or in the military, be granted citizenship. Salcedo’s announcement and the DREAM Act are further examples of our contradictory immigration policies and enforcement. For this student to have so shamelessly confessed to a crime in public and for Congress to consider modifying a standard which is already so ambiguous, only complicates and confuses the immigration issue. This ambiguity of policy, law, law enforcement, and basic decision making is why it’s difficult to have an informed position on immigration as there is no way of knowing how our current laws would even work because they’re not enforced.
When Salcedo proclaimed his criminal status it was widely reported as a controversial and intriguing story. A story that really ‘hits a chord’ with the community by raising awareness and ultimately creating sympathy for these victims and their plight. A story which raises questions and challenges us to consider where we stand on an issue like this (http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/11/17/1931298/at-dream-act-rally-a-surprise.html). There were no subsequent stories however, of law enforcement officials taking Salcedo into custody, let alone contacting him. His unlawful status is somehow different. There are no other crimes for which we distinguish their status as much as we do illegal immigration. Once the term ‘illegal immigrant’ is introduced, we should have all the information we need. Yet so often we particularize each case of illegal immigration. Asking questions about the specifics and scrutinizing deeply as if we had no laws in place whatsoever. These stories come up all the time. If there’s an illegal immigrant who’s pregnant and seeks an abortion, we actually stop and ask ourselves, “Hmm, should we allow illegals to get abortions?” How is that question even raised? Why do we take any action other than charging, trying, convicting and sentencing her for her crime? The sentence being deportation. Should we allow them to finish college if they’re already enrolled? No. We should deport them. Should we allow them to seek state or federally funded jobs? No. We should deport them. Should we provide them with medical treatment? As much medical treatment as they need to fulfill their sentence: deportation. Should we educate them? Well, as much education as they need to understand the details of serving their sentence: “Get on boat. Get off boat.” Should we allow them to vote in local elections? Provide religious sanctuary? Issue driver’s licenses? No. No. No. Deport. Deport. Deport. Put simply, you say ‘murderer’, I say 25 to life. You say ‘illegal immigrant’, I say deportation.
I can certainly understand the argument behind the DREAM Act. The idea that it isn’t some 10 year old’s fault that his parents were such shameless, degenerate criminals in bringing him here illegally. But that scenario is only a further example of how ambiguous and lax our laws have been for so long. And to identify someone in that position as a victim who should be exonerated is to basically create a statute of limitations on the crime of illegal immigration based on someone’s age and duration of lawlessness. So, if you can get away with it for long enough, we’ll let you get away with it forever.
We all know how this country was founded. Through conquest and immigration. That lax foundation of immigration structure, basically a free-for-all, is what makes us the great American melting pot we are. As well as it can be understood that this foundation was beneficial to us at the time, it should be equally understood that it isn’t the way things are anymore. We have since become a country that has immigration problems, population problems, and as much as ever, homeland security problems. The more we indulge ourselves in debate over specific instances of alleged controversy, the more we discredit our current laws and confuse the entire issue. Whatever direction we are going to take, whatever goals we seek, whatever we decide is in the country’s best interest, we should at least take it seriously enough to be able to legislate, adjudicate and execute a clear standard of laws and conviction to those laws. Legislate, adjudicate and execute. Yes. I’m quite certain I’ve read that somewhere…