The needle on my mental gauge has finally settled in the center on immigration issue — with a clear understanding that it’s not just about immigrants
There’s a gauge in my head with a needle that sways back and forth between L for liberal and R for conservative. When I’m observing events around me the needle usually sways wildly from the middle to the right, then back to the left, usually coming back to rest just to the left of the center.
That’s what happened when I was watching televised reports of the pro-immigration reform march and rally on May Day in Dallas that drew tens of thousands to downtown streets.
My first reaction to a woman from El Salvador who acknowledged being in the United States illegally was one of astonishment. She had just given her name and showed her face while demanding the right to be allowed to live and work in the U.S. without interference from government officials.
Why didn’t she just paint an X on her posterior and bend over in the street in front of the camera? My best guess is that she’s going to get a visit from some immigration officials in the near future.
To that point, much smaller numbers of counterprotesters attended the march and rally, demanding that government officials enforce current immigration laws that would deport anyone living in the U.S. illegally.
At one point my reaction was one of indignation, because I’ve considered moving to Mexico to live in retirement in Puerto Vallarta, and I certainly understand that would require a little interference by Mexican government officials.
That would have been when the needle was popping over to the right in a pretty dramatic, "boing."
But there I go again, forgetting that in comparison to this woman who is struggling to survive and provide for her children, I am the privileged white American who wants to live in paradise. I realized it was not fair to compare our two agendas, and that’s when the needle launched backwards.
After all, most Americans who have come here in the last five centuries have been run out of some other part of the world or been forced to flee for another reason, such as famine, unemployment, political oppression, religious persecution and even criminal prosecution.
Many were seeking help from relatives who were already here. The others were searching for adventure, fame and fortune.
I don’t see any difference between our ancestors and the current flow of people from other countries, and I don’t think our being here earlier gives us any cause to be indifferent to their plights.
If the conditions in their home countries weren’t unbearable, they wouldn’t be risking their lives to get here anyway they can.
The marches and rallies — simultaneously staged from New York to Los Angeles, with Dallas drawing one of the larger crowds — were for a just cause.
They drew widespread participation because of a recently passed Arizona law targeting illegal immigrants and justifiable concerns that other states might follow suit.
No matter how much it galls some people, we have large numbers of people from other countries living and working in the U.S. illegally.
The idea of deporting them is neither practical nor humane. They have established their lives here, and many of their children are now natural-born U.S. citizens.
What’s more, there is inequity in immigration laws regarding gay and lesbian people who want to bring their committed partners who were born in other countries to live with them in the U.S.
So with the needle in my head more-or-less stable, I finally concluded, immigration reform is long overdue for many reasons that are important to me. The more time we spend trying to enforce antiquated policies, the bigger and more complicated the problem becomes.
I think so much more clearly when I’m centered.
David Webb is a former staff writer for the Dallas Voice who lives on Cedar Creek Lake now. He is the author of the blog TheRareReporter.blogspot.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared in the Pride Weddings 2010 special section in the Dallas Voice print edition May 7, 2010.
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