A Nation With Laws But No Heart

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

This remains one of the issues where I not only do NOT agree with many in the Republican Party and the Teat Party’s hardline on immigration, but where their “law and order” policy is simply in my view unrealistic. I continue to hear about the “illegals” and how such people should “follow the law” when they come to this country. Having dealt with the immigration system myself first hand, I ask the questions of “what law” and “what constitutes illegal”? We have families in this country where either the parents are undocumented and their children are either legally here or U.S. citizens, where one parent may be legally here and the other undocumented, or where only one family member may be undocumented and the rest legally here or U.S. citizens.

Interestingly enough, Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker is finding out that the whole issue of immigration is not so black and white. He seems to be waffling between granting either U.S. citizenship or legal status to undocumented and the more hardline view of law enforcement only. But when he came across a father and son where the father faces deportation for being “illegal,” yet his son is an American and can remain in the United States, Walker came across what I am only too familiar with—that many of the undocumented are interwoven into the very fabric of American society and have families and are working hard and contributing to this country. Almost all of these undocumented have been here for years and even decades, but they have been unable to legalize their status—even though they are married to U.S. citizens (which should have caused them to legalize their status)—because of a broken immigration system.

That nearly happened to me. Despite my best efforts, my wife was nearly deported because the system simply did not want to acknowledge her as my wife. In the end, I was forced to fight tooth and nail and with a good immigration lawyer to bring in and make sure that my wife could be in this country. Not many people have the time, money and connections to good lawyers to be able to fight the system. Once an American marries, or adopts children, then the immigration system should deal with this as a formality. in 90 percent of all cases it does not, and that alone is a good reason why the laws and system must be changed. The majority of those undocumented here have had families all along, and have either been married or were born here but had to leave this country and then returned.

When a general amnesty was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by then U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1986, no mechanism was ever put in place to define how immigration should work for those who marry American nationals, those children adopted by American nationals, and how to bring in badly needed labor from wherever without a huge bureaucratic process and an extremely long wait. Under these conditions, it makes more sense for big land owners to bring in undocumented workers and for whole families to “keep quiet” about the immigration status of a family member. Personally speaking, saying for someone to “follow the law” does not change the fact that the law itself is badly flawed and that it needs to be changed.

In 2006, then U.S. President George W. Bush tried to actually change the whole immigration process by having those who are undocumented pay back taxes, pay any penalties they needed to, get in the back of the line of the immigration process, and proceed from there. That his own party killed this necessary reform shows that it will keep millions in the shadows and cost this country more to try and arrest, jail and deport these people than to make them legal. When our immigration laws treat undocumented who have been here for years and decades, and have families here, with those who just managed to sneak into the country as the same, there is something very wrong with the law. Yes, we are a nation of laws, but at times not much heart.

Comments are closed.