The anti-immigration movement vs. US soldiers: Round one — FIGHT!!

Guest blogger Nora here, having a WTF moment.

It’s times like this when the irrationality of the anti-immigration movement becomes really obvious. I use “anti-immigration” rather than anti-illegal-immigration because, quite frankly, the two are one and the same in the eyes of the most rabid people in this camp. The case mentioned in this article actually illustrates this pretty clearly:

“What’s happening right now is, because of the dysfunction and complexity of our immigration laws, we’ve got people fighting overseas who are facing the impossible situation of having family members facing deportation back home,” she said.

In Gonzalez’s case, his wife, Mildred, came to the United States with her mother in 1989 when she was 5 years old. They were granted political asylum because of their status as war refugees from Guatemala.

In September 2000, Mildred’s mother applied for legalization and included her daughter in that application. Her mother was granted legal status in July 2004, according to Gonzalez.

However, six weeks earlier, Gonzalez and Mildred got married, canceling Mildred’s ability to apply for legal status through her mother because she was no longer an unmarried daughter under the age of 21. As a result, her legal status still remains in jeopardy.

Notice that Mildred was a legal immigrant. Notice it was doing the very things that the right wing in this country supposedly wants people to do — get married, start a family to raise more patriotic citizens who will hopefully serve their country in wartime — that put Mildred’s status in danger.

And notice a typical anti-immigrant reaction:

That’s just fine, according to Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which lobbies for tougher laws on illegal immigration.

“What you’re talking about is amnesty for illegal immigrants who have a relative in the armed forces, and that’s just outrageous,” he said. “What we’re talking about here is letting lawbreakers get away with their actions just because they have a relative in the military. … There’s no justification for that kind of policy.”

Let’s skip the truly outrageous part of this for the moment: that Krikorian went from “immigrant” to “illegal immigrant” in 0.5 seconds. Just because they have a relative in the military? So if volunteering your flesh and blood for the sake of US corporate interests isn’t enough to earn you some cred with the INS, what the flying frilly fuck is?

I’m continually amazed by, and admiring of, the fact that so many people in this country still volunteer to serve in our armed forces. Military service can’t even get you decent health care (even if you’re injured in combat) or pension benefits anymore, and now it seems it can’t safeguard your perfectly legal family from pointless bureaucracy either.

And for those who wonder why Mildred didn’t just wait ’til she was legal to get married, let’s think about this a bit. It can take up to 20 years to get a green card in some cases. Her husband was going off to war. If she had just shacked up with him, she could’ve gotten citizenship, but she and her child might not have gotten any of the benefits that a soldier’s wife (or, God forbid, widow) is supposed to receive. She had already been in the country most of her life — legally — and probably had no idea she could be deported. A few years ago she probably wouldn’t have been, but thanks to folks like Krikorian, now the INS is more vigilant. About deporting. Soldiers’. Wives.

Of course I have to wonder whether these anti-immigrant people would be so vigilant if the face of immigration weren’t so brown. I also have to wonder whether there would even be debate about cases like this if the face of our armed forces wasn’t considerably browner too (pp. 7-12; see how I suffer for you?). After all, back when the military was a lot whiter and the immigrants were too, the War Brides Act made it a lot easier for servicemen to get citizenship for their foreign-born wives. It was considered the least a grateful country could do for its soldiers. But Krikorian thinks “that’s just outrageous”.

Maybe Mildred would’ve been better off if her husband worked for Blackwater. Though I have to wonder whether Blackwater would’ve hired someone like him.

11 Responses

  1. This is really appalling. Though sadly my father — as well as many of my (almost all white) students — tend to hold extremely strong anti-immigration sentiments. I read somewhere that the KKK is using the anti-immigration fervor to recruit new people to its ranks. Seems like immigration is just the latest cloak for racism in this country.

  2. […] I just find it astounding that someone would have the … let’s call it gumption … to do this in the first place, considering that the military has been getting progressively browner. [Source] […]

  3. this totally sucks, but i don’t think you should condemn those who still want to be in the military. i have alot of friends in the military and most of them are aware of the problems but thought that pursuing that would be best for the lives, heck some of them actually believe in what they’re fighting for. and i think it takes alot of balls to willing put your life on the line, no matter the reasons behind it. that being said i’m no fan of this current “war” and wish they’d bring our soldiers home. it’s the people who’s sending the soldiers over there that’s the problem not them.

  4. This example you give supports my feeling that we need some immigration law reform, for sure. I also know personally of a Chinese woman who lost her visa and got deported because INS made a stupid paperwork error.

    Unlike this Mark Krikorian, I feel very uncertain that I have a clue what all is right/wrong with immigration. That’s why I don’t go around issuing many opinions. I have a feeling immigration law reforms are needed, desperately, but I’m not sure what the solutions are. The research I’ve done makes me feel like I would need four years of study to fully comprehend immigration law and its history in order to have a sensible opinion on what to do in the present and future.

    I think ignorance is as big a factor as racism in some anti-immigration thinking. If you get most of your info from the media, you form the impression that people are sneaking into the country and somehow benefiting at legal residents’ expense. You’re hard-pressed to explain the mechanics of it, because you’ve only gotten soundbytes that told you what to think, but not why.

    I’m not arguing that ignorance is less awful than bigotry. Bigots use ignorance to spread their agenda without making the racism of it obvious. And I feel everyone adopting opinions based on soundbytes should rethink their entitlement to have an opinion without being fully educated on the subject.

  5. Dave Niewart & Sarah Robinson over at Orcinus blog about this sort of issue a lot .

  6. By the by, they are no longer INS. That agency ceased to exist with the creation of the Dept. of Homeland Security. Their new name is USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), but they have the same basic mission.

    USCIS has one new objective: to deal with cases efficiently, and to reduce backlog. Currently, USCIS keeps almost all of its records in paper form, leading to lost or unprocessed applications. Making records available electronically is a huge step in the right direction, though obviously some work is needed on the actual laws concerning immigration. Now that the bureau is working on improving its functionality, Congress needs to get started on laws that work in the new system.

  7. I just came back from overseas and I am already depressed. With all of the nice things in this country racists just ruin it.

    At any rate, I suggest getting out of America. This place is for the birds. In such a rich country, everyone should be able to live her life in peace.

    I also agree about immigration. Were the ppl who came over on the Mayflower illegal immigrants? Immigrants make America great.

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  10. By the by, they are no longer INS.

    Thank you – not just for that nugget, but your whole comment was interesting. You’re right – more is needed than improved agency efficiency, but it’s rather behind the times to be losing paperwork in this day and age. Especially when it affects people in such a huge way.

  11. “After all, back when the military was a lot whiter and the immigrants were too, the War Brides Act made it a lot easier for servicemen to get citizenship for their foreign-born wives. It was considered the least a grateful country could do for its soldiers. But Krikorian thinks “that’s just outrageous”.”
    ~*~

    This is what happens when you don’t teach history, or teach it very selectively. People are ignorant as the dickens. The precedent is right there. Why are they ignoring it?

    Assholes.

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