Monday, January 14, 2008

Legal and Illegal, Again

A post from December 20, 2007 ("Not a Crime: Undocumented Immigration is a Civil Offense") discussed the concept of illegal. Here, three letters from the Washington Post present different opinions about the state of illegality.

Letters to the Editor
Washington Post
Who Among Us Has Never Broken the Law?
Monday, January 14, 2008; A20

A Jan. 10 Metro section headline said it all: "Driver Fees, Illegal Immigration Top Agenda as Legislators Convene."

Virginians don't think it's fair to have to pay large fines for illegal, dangerous driving, but immigrants in the United States without proper documentation are not worthy of being here because they are "breaking the law." I'd love to see the correlation for people holding both opinions.

As the daughter of immigrants from Poland, I've met too many people who knew that their ancestors bought other people's names, falsely claimed they were relatives of citizens, "married" people they didn't know or obtained fraudulent letters from potential employers stating that they were the only ones who could do particular jobs.

The iconic immigration film, Elia Kazan's "America, America," was about Kazan's uncle who came to the United States and sent for the others in his family. He took the identity of someone who would have been here legally but died on the ship.

The hypocrisy goes on.



Unless we all are prepared to wear the word "illegal" around our necks, we need to drop it when referring to undocumented immigrants ["Two Views of Illegal," Metro, Jan. 10]. Most of us are illegal in some way, having chosen at times to ignore certain laws. With the exception of my mother and a few others, all of us over the age of 16 have willfully, if only occasionally, flouted an inconvenient law or two. And we didn't even do it to escape oppression, poverty, death squads or starvation.

I would like to ask this question of those who believe that all undocumented immigrants are criminals, because, in the words of lawyer Norman Hammer, "people can't choose which laws they want to abide by and which ones they don't": How many of us can honestly say we have clean slates -- that we never tried cigarettes or alcohol before we were old enough to be legal, for instance? Choosing which laws to bend or break is a time-honored American tradition.

Last I checked, it hasn't exactly destroyed the "fabric of this country."



I take exception to The Post's claim that there are two views of illegal.

Illegal is illegal, despite all the sob stories about the supposed plight of illegal immigrants who are overrunning this country and expect that we should speak their language and offer them the benefits of citizenship.

The only two views of the immigration situation are "legal" and "illegal." The whys and wherefores of illegal immigrants shouldn't enter the process.



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