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Saturday, January 3, 2009

The I Word

Illegal is illegal। There is the reason why I don’t go to sites where immigration is being debated anymore. Illegal is illegal. How can anyone argue with that? It is the word illegal and it means illegal. End of discussion. Let’s go home. You can say that, and that is the problem. Illegal is illegal and it refers to me.

Illegal is illegal। It is just a sentence with two words. It means nothing. Oranges are oranges and two is two no matter how you slice it. I can say that stupid is stupid and there is no denying it. It is a truism like Jesus is love. Only Jesus is more than love. Clergy, atheists and scholars can tell you that Jesus is more than love. There is a point where love has nothing to do with Jesus. It is easy just to say that Jesus is love for the sake of sanity. That is the problem.

It is so simple that the meaning escapes through the window and runs laughing at your face. The first illegal refers to a person who is living without documents in the United States. There are many ways on which a person can become undocumented in the USA. Either the person was smuggled though the border or enter through an airport with a temporary visa and never left. Anyway, the person is illegal. Now, you can see the reality of the sentence. A person is illegal.
Illegal is illegal and it is funny। There are people driving cars without a license plate and those cars are not illegal. People smuggle animals into the country and those animals are not illegals. It is only when it refers to me that illegal is illegal, although, like the car and the animal, I had no say on the decision of whether I wanted to be an undocumented resident of the United States or not.

Even funnier, a murderer is a murderer। A murderer is not murder. A rapist is a rapist but it is not rape. There is a chance that we can love the sinner and hate the sin with a murderer and a rapist. There is no chance of loving an illegal because the sin is the sinner, even, if that particular sin is the only one committed by the sinner. I am an illegal when going to church and an illegal when donating blood. I am especially illegal when volunteering. Some of my illegal blood might be running through your veins. It is also safe blood, due to my stubborn catholic belief of remaining chaste until marriage and my unwillingness to drink alcohol or use drugs. There is such thing as illegal but safe. By the way, illegal is still illegal.

Illegal is illegal। It is a derogative term use to make the dreaded other feel inferior and less than human. It is like, calling a homosexual a fag or an African American a nigger. The only difference is that illegal is actually the correct legal definition. They also throw in the “alien” concept, thus every one can associate me to the dark, moist creature that impregnated American men in the Aliens Trilogy.

Because, illegal is illegal means, you are inferior। Justice has nothing to do with it. That is why we have engineers that are working as waitresses and nurses that are working as nannies. We have people whose only language is English and who were raised here. We have people who are no longer part of the country they left. They are the dreaded other in their country of origin and they are the dreaded other in the country they reside. Illegal is illegal and it means that I am unwanted everywhere.

Since illegal is illegal, the constitution has nothing to do with me। That is why someone can scream at my face that illegal is illegal and I can give a long wonderful speech. I cannot say that I am not illegal, because then, they’ll call ICE on me, and I will be deported. I cannot say that I am undocumented. You cannot feel compassion for me because feeling compassion to me is to feel compassion for my legal status. Tancredo does not have compassion for my legal status. He, however, understands that illegal is illegal. That is why he threatened to call ICE on a group of young students that were promoting the Dream Act. Thus, effectively he denied them the right to rally for their cause.

I also understand that illegal is illegal and that it refers to me। It is not how I see myself or how I see other Dream Act students. It is how I am perceived by others, even people who claim to like me. When a journalist writes a favorable article about the Dream Act, I want to thank that person. If I write as a Dream Act student, nothing happens. If I write as a thankful reader, I get a reply. Also, when writing responses in Saloon.com and Bill Moyers Journal, when writing as a pro-Dream Act individual, I get negative and positive responses. When I write my story and my take on my situation, people ignore my comments. I, it seems, do not have the right to have an opinion, even if the argument is the argument of my life.

Illegal is illegal and it must be stop. We can argue as much as we want. Some people might even write angry letters and some might have a good point. Still, those who are sick and tired of illegal is illegal must fight it to the bitter end…in Congress. Deep inside, after the protective cynicism is removed, the optimist hides inside all of us. There is a solution and its name is the Dream Act. One day, someone will scream at me that illegal is illegal. I will reply. “Illegal is illegal but it does not refer to me.” Only this time the law will be by my side. The world will have to agree. And those who wish to maintain the status quo will have no choice, but to swallow back, their bitter poison.