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.