I’ll be heading to Mexico over the coming weekend to see my father and my cousins, and I can’t help but think of all the times I’ve had a hard time crossing the border back into the United States. It’s gotten a lot easier now that I’m a US citizen, I’ll admit. But all those times of all those senseless questions and detentions are deeply engrained in my mind. That’s why I can’t help but look at the following video with nothing but disdain.
Let me set it up for you real quick. Iowa Senator Steve King is having lunch with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. I won’t even bother telling you their political affiliation because it’s pointless to do so. Both sides of the political spectrum in Washington are equally complicit in us having a very, very broken immigration system. Anyway, the senators are munching away as two young people — a man and a woman — approach them. Senator Paul immediately puts down his food and leaves. Senator King talks to the couple, but he can’t seem to get over the fact that the woman speaks English.
The woman speaks English because she has been in the United States since a very young age, brought here as an undocumented/illegal immigrant/alien by her parents. She has since grown up in this country, gone to school in this country, and gotten a college degree in this country. The same goes for the young man. He even tried to serve in the armed forces, but he wasn’t taken because he is not here “legally.” I put legally in quotes because the legality of their status is up in the air.
It’s up in the air because a law that says that a person who grows up in this country, who has lost ties to the country of their birth, cannot be counted as a person — can’t serve in the military or hold a job legally — is not really a law that can be reasonably accepted as moral, ethical, or any of those good things that we want from our laws. Nevertheless, Senator King tries to school them on “the rule of law.” He explains to them that President Obama has taken extra-constitutional steps to prevent them — the two people in front of Senator King — from being deported to a country they haven’t seen in decades. To Senator King, it appears, that all this makes some kind of sense, especially when his colleagues in Congress have not done squat in over one generation to fix any of this:
I’m going to make a comparison that will very likely get me in trouble, but you know how I like to “poke bears with sticks.” I am going to compare Senator King telling these two young people that they should obey the law and get out of the country — along with the jackass in the background who keeps yelling “go home” — to the driver of the bus in which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and move to the back. Why? Because Senator King wants an unfair and nonsensical law to be enforced no matter what the human cost can be. Anyone who believes that people who have been in this country since a very young age must “go home” are no better than people in the South during Jim Crow that wanted those laws enforced regardless of their unfairness and immorality.
There. It’s a harsh comparison — and it may be interpreted as me calling Senator King a racist, which I’m not — but I have a hard time seeing it any other way.
For my other thoughts on immigration, click here.
Finally, one last thing. How can Senator Rand Paul be considered a serious candidate for President if he runs away from the issues like he literally did in that restaurant in Iowa? I applaud Senator King for staying and discussing this with those two “dreamers,” even if his logic makes no more sense than segregationist laws did in the South.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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