immigration bits

A few interesting, somewhat unrelated articles:

Milwaukeeans out there may have seen the news stories about Oscar Ayala-Cornejo (most recent news story and links to earlier ones), an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who took on the identity of his deceased, U.S. citizen cousin in high school, and since went on to become a Milwaukee police officer. After his real identity was leaked to the police department in early June, Ayala-Cornejo was arrested, then released on bail, and has now been convicted of falsely impersonating a U.S. citizen. He faces a jail term and subsequent deportation. I’m itching to talk to this guy, but I don’t know if it will happen. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Editor O. Ricardo Pimentel has written a great column on the man’s punishment and the parallels this situation has with the greater national immigration debate.

Andrew Leonard, of’s How the World Works, has predicted that Lou Dobbs will continue to aid in corroding the base of the Republican Party by spewing his extreme, fanatical views on immigration to millions of viewers. Immigration is a divisive issue for both parties, but there is a lot of talk of how big business, which clearly has an interest in either a) maintaining the status quo or b) passage of a reform bill that will legalize those in the country illegally AND create an immigration system that will meet the nation’s future economic needs. The Lou Dobbs, or Tom Tancredo types, want all the “illegal aliens” out ASAP, no matter what the cost, because clearly, they are taking over America in every way, and we need to preserve all that is righteous and good and pure about our white, male, Christian power structure. (Yikes, I so just mixed a whole bunch of crap into one big ball there).

Finally, I’d like to thank Francis Pauc, of Oak Creek (a southern suburb of Milwaukee) for sending this letter to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It was printed in Monday’s paper:

As I follow the immigration debate, I note that among the parties involved there is a passionate desire for the United States to secure its borders. This seems odd to me since national boundaries generally do not exist in the physical world; they are products of the human imagination.

Any photograph of the Earth from space will not show evidence of such a border anywhere on the globe. Any physical evidence of a national border, whether it be the Berlin Wall, a fence near the Rio Grande or the Great Wall of China, is simply a manifestation of human fear and aggression. National borders tend to be temporary and fluid; ask any European about that. A national border is a clear sign of the failure of men to get along with each other. The burning desire to defend our country’s borders is evidence that we are incapable of working amicably with our neighbors.

The sanctity of national borders also seems to be a matter of convenience for our nation’s leaders. Apparently some borders are sacred and some aren’t. Our border with Mexico appears to be crucial, but Iraq’s frontiers weren’t nearly so important when we invaded that country in March 2003.

Once again, I would suggest that borders are in our minds and nowhere else.

Amen to that.


2 Responses to immigration bits

  1. jack Bruss says:

    Laura, with all due respect, I happened to read the letter above in Mondays paper, and my immediate thought was “what an idiot”. Where to start?

    “We can’t see borders from outer space, so they aren’t there”. Well, I can’t see my lot line from outer space, so I guess my neighbors yard is mine.

    “The burning desire to defend borders is evidence we are incapable of working amicably with our neighbors”. So, I guess the way to get along with our neighbors is to not defend ourselves.

    “A national border is a clear sign of the failure of men to get along with each other”. Maybe Mr Pauc hasn’t noticed, but men (and women) have failed to get along with each other since the beginning of time. Does he think removing borders will change that?

    Mr Pauc saved his best for last: “…borders are in our minds and nowhere else.” That is so stupid it is funny. You should suggest to Mr Pauc that he travel the world and see the differences in people on different sides of these non existant borders. Remind him to take a passport. They won’t let him in without one.

  2. laurafern says:

    I would say “wildly idealistic and unlikely,” yes, but “idiotic,” definitely not. I am fully aware that we will never again be a nation of open borders, but in reality, the borders we have today simply define the land we have stolen from other cultures before us.

    I’ve traveled the world, and I don’t really see a difference between the humanity of one place to another. Of course we have differences, but the U.S. has always been a place of great cultural diversity, whether you are talking about the differences between immigrants from different European countries in the early 20th century, or the difference between Mexicans, Vietnamese and African Americans today.

    I think Francis sees the world in a humane, positive way, rather than a scared, paranoid way, as many Americans have become since 9-11. I don’t see putting up walls as any sort of effective means to dealing with our problems. Historically, people have realized that these walls do not work, and most successful, prospering and democratic nations eventually work to get along with their neighbors, rather than pushing them away.

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