Illegal Immigration: California is really Aztlan!?!
I received this email from a fellow student at my university on March 31, 2006. You may remember that it came at a time when the U.S. Senate would soon debate a bill to make illegal immigration to the U.S. a felony. My opponent showed his true allegiance in his reply to my first email and I proceeded to pick his argument to pieces in my final letter. The following is a copy of the correspondence between the two of us (his punctuation and spelling has not been altered in any way). Enjoy:
To: Campus Community
From: Office of Diversity Affairs
Date: March 31, 2006
Subject: Candlelight Vigil
We extend an invitation to you to join us at the Labyrinth (behind Memorial Chapel) this Sunday at 9pm for a Candlelight Vigil to raises awareness about immigration and equity as the Senate continues to debate an issue fundamental to the future of the human justice. We, as a campus community, must unite in support of human rights.
After the vigil, student organizers will be making t-shirts that can be worn to encourage debate about the issue of immigration. We ask that you provide your own white shirt but we will provide the materials.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Koby.
The Dude replied:
I want to start by saying that I have the utmost respect for the many people who dream to come to this great country of ours to work hard and build a new life for themselves and their families. It is an honorable and very noble cause.
About your candle light vigil on Sunday night:
I was just wondering, Koby, if you are going to be honest about what HR 4377 will actually do, which is modify the laws already on the books about ILLEGAL immigration. You know full well that the bill has NOTHING to do with legal immigration. In fact, as it currently stands, it will allow people who are here ILLEGALLY (who broke the law to come here) to apply for U.S. citizenship without ever having to leave the country. They'll have to pay a fine, but that's not a very big price to pay to be allowed to stay in this great country where they have more opportunity than they could ever dream about back home.
I want to make it plainly clear that I DO NOT want to deport anyone who has been a hard-working, upstanding citizen since they first broke the law by crossing the boarder (and neither does the U.S. Senate). This would be a disaster for millions of families and is frankly unrealistic. All I ask is that you be HONEST about the situation. I think that your side of the argument would go a lot further with the people on the fence on this issue if you would just acknowledge that the only immigration that ANYONE wants to curb is the illegal kind. Is it unreasonable for a democratically elected legislative body to make laws that are in the best interest of the safety of its citizens? Is it unreasonable for an executive branch of government to try to enforce its laws? If you say it is, then I must ask, why do we even bother with governments? And you can't really be against a more organized, more efficient immigration system that facilitates the citizenship process and saves thousands of lives by preventing people from trying to swim across rivers and hike through deserts led by unscrupulous Coyotes.
There is room for debate here, but only if we all remain candid and truthful about the real situation. We must have clarity if this issue is ever to be resolved, to the benefit of all parties. I appreciate your time and I thank you for hearing my point of view.
P.S. Of course, I encourage you to reply to this email. You have my email address.
I thank you for expressing your interest and your concerns about Sunday night's vigil. I would like to start off by acknowledging the fact that no where in the Candlelight Vigil email did it mention HR4437. The vigil is not directly focusing on HR4437, but I'm sure it will come up. As a Race and Ethnic Studies major, nonetheless, a concerned citizen, I am fully aware of what this bill could do. I do realize that it has the potential to make 12 million undocumented workers, citizens. Yet, there are still consequences such as fines of $2,000 (which is nearly impossible to pay for these low-wage workers), backed taxes, a background check, and having to learnEnglishh. That would be kind of odd for a country that doesn't really have an "official" language.I support undocumented workers becoming citizens, but I do not support some of the other implementations. First of all, this bill would create 700 miles of extra fence on the U.S. Mexican border. This would then be the third wall that the United States has put up. Since the the last wall was put up through Operation Gatekeeper, over 500 undocumented workers have died. This system is NOT working.Lastly, this bill would cause for a guest worker program. Which is like teasing a baby with candy. You can touch it, feel it, see it, but you can't have it. This would make guest workers second class citizens. Racism would rise like no other.In your email you capitalized ILLEGAL. I would just like to acknowledge that this country was built off of immigration. Immigration runs this country. On top of all of this, this land was stolen. East coast was stolen from Native Americans and the west coast stolen from the Mexicans. So what most mexican immigrants are coming back to, is their own land of Aztlan.Maybe the Native Americans should have had such a strict policy in 1492...Koby
I wrote back:
Most Mexican immigrants save much more than $2,000, while they are still in Mexico, to pay the coyotes who bring them here. From what I read, it is usually around $5,000 US dollars. It cannot be that difficult to raise $2,000 once they are in the U.S. making more money than they ever made in Mexico. And why should there be no consequences? Do we live in a country of laws or not? If we do, then how can we say that certain laws be broken while others cannot? And you can't really think that a background check is unreasonable. Do you? And learning English is not punishment. Can you really say that immigrants would be damaged by becoming bilingual? Learning English is a positive thing! Just like it is a positive thing for any person to learn any language different from his native tongue. Learning new languages stimulates the brain, which every college student, by definition, should support.
On the issue of legal and illegal:
First you wrote, "Immigration runs this country", and you're right! But every immigrant who came here after the establishment of the federal and state governments was required to register and assimilate. That is what my great grandparents did (from Italy and Ireland) and that is what immigrants should still do.
Then you wrote, "On top of all of this, this land was stolen." Yes, this country was established through force. No one can deny that this is the case, but so what? Nearly every civilization in the history of mankind has been established by force, including Mexico. The Native American tribes fought amongst themselves for control over the land for years before Europeans ever got here. War is what shapes a nation's boarders, whether you like it or not. That's reality. War is how the U.S. gained independence from England and war is how Mexico gained its independence from Spain. The following excerpt is taken from the History channel website at
"Under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on Feb. 2, 1848, the Rio Grande was fixed as the boundary of Texas and the territory now forming the states of California and New Mexico became part of the U.S. The Gadsden Purchase in 1853 clarified the New Mexico boundary and gave an additional strip of territory (now southern Arizona and a slice of southwestern New Mexico) to the U.S."
Some of the territory was won in war and the rest was purchased. Whether you agree with how it was established or not you must acknowledge the 150 year old agreements made between the U.S. and Mexico. The U.S. recognizes the legitimacy of the Mexican government. Why should Mexico not recognize the U.S.? So when you say, "what most Mexican immigrants are coming back to is their own land of Aztlan", you're wrong. The land does not belong to Mexico and hasn't for the last 150 years. And in that case, no living U.S. citizen stole anything from any Mexican and no living Mexican was robbed of any land.
I will just say one last thing. People immigrate to the U.S. because it is a nice place to live. We have a strong economy and are the wealthiest and most prosperous nation on earth. This is largely because of the freedom we enjoy and the form of government under which we live. This didn't happen overnight, it wasn't an accident, and it didn't have anything to do with the land that was "stolen" from Mexico. "Aztlan" is the way it is today because of the fact that it is part of the United State of America. If it weren't, it would be under the control of the undeniably corrupt Mexican government and would no doubt resemble Tijuana more than any city in the U.S. Mexicans have not been victimized by the U.S., they have been victimized by their own government. If it weren't true, they wouldn't be leaving the country of their birth in droves as they are.