Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Welcome Fellow "Wretched Refuse"

I had a very personal reaction to this story. It goes under the headline, "Rep. Duncan Hunter [Republican of California] backs deporting US-born children of undocumented immigrants." The guts of the story is as follows:

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) says the federal government should deport U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants.

"Would you support deportation of natural-born American citizens that are the children of illegal aliens," Hunter was asked. "I would have to, yes," Hunter said. "... We simply cannot afford what we're doing right now," he said. "... It takes more than just walking across the border to become an American citizen. It's what's in our souls. ..."

Hunter made his comments at a "tea party" rally in the San Diego County city of Ramona over the weekend.

Fortunately, we do have something called a "Constitution" in this country, and it unambiguously prohibits what this unspeakable ignoramus Hunter is proposing. The Fourteenth Amendment specifically provides,
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.
So, I think we can all rest pretty well-assured that this raving lunacy can be dismissed as nothing more than that, the ravings of a bunch of lunatics. Still, the headline hit me in a very personal way. You see, if Mr. Hunter had his way, I wouldn't exist.

My grandparents emigrated to the United States from Wales in 1910. At the time, the United States had no restrictions on immigration. My grandparents were among the millions who came through Ellis Island looking for something better. They were recently married and they liked the idea of starting a family that had real prospects of living better than their parents had. They settled down in Upstate New York having two children, the younger one being my mother.

After the end of World War I, they started to get a bit nostalgic for the "old country." They missed their relatives. They missed the beauty of the hills of North Wales. So they decided to go back, taking their two young children with them.

It didn't take very long for them to remember why they had left Wales in the first place. There was no work to be found. As my grandfather always used to say, "You can't eat scenery." My grandmother had been slated for a life "in service" working in an estate owned by local aristocrats. The prison that is the British class system was opening its gates to welcome them back. They soon realized that they had made a dreadful mistake.

In the interim while they were away, the United States had passed its first laws imposing restrictions on immigration. When they sailed back past the Statue of Liberty, it was no longer clear that the "golden door" was going to be open for them. Fortunately, my mother and her brother had been born in the United States, so under the Constitution, they were citizens of the United States. Unlike Mr. Hunter, immigration officials in those days understood that that meant something. My mother and her brother could not be excluded from their country, and the family was allowed to return.

My mother went on to grow up during the Roaring Twenties, go to college and get a job, fall in love with and get married to a handsome and thoughtful man, make it through the Depression and the War, and raise a family of her own. Thanks to the Constitution, I am now sitting here writing this blog.

But I guess that Mr. Hunter would say that my mother wasn't a real American, at least not in her "soul." I shudder to think what is in Mr. Hunter's "soul".

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