People who oppose immigration — people like Lou Dobbs of CNN — insist on using the adjective "illegal" whenever the word "immigrants" is used.
I guess this is to constantly remind us that these people are here illegally. You know…in case we forgot, even though their illegal status is the only reason there's a problem in the first place.
They also go out of their way to emphasize, repeatedly, that these people are "criminals." I guess this is to put us in mind of terrorists and other violent offenders.
By constantly labeling illegal immigrants as criminals, they make it difficult for anyone to defend their being here. After all, they're CRIMINALS. First and foremost. And who in his right mind would want to extend any rights to CRIMINALS! Because criminals commit CRIMES, damnit!
Okay. Let's take a look at these criminals.
I may be wrong, but in our entire history I don't think there's ever been an actual prosecution of anybody whose only crime was being here illegally.
Sometimes we hold them and deport them. But we don't prosecute. No indictments, no trial, no imprisonment.
In other words, we've never treated people who are here illegally as "criminals."
Aside from the occasional terrorist or spy or foreign dignitary, illegal immigrants don't come here with bad intent. They don't come to rob people or kill them or kidnap their children.
They come for the same reasons your parents and grandparents came: To make a better life for their families.
So let's not automatically concede that, well, yes, these people are all criminals. Because illegally entering the United States makes you about as much of a criminal as going solo in the diamond lane or smoking in a restaurant or crashing a wedding.
Come to think of it, all of those things are worse crimes than sneaking into America.
People actually get prosecuted for them.
from: A Practical Guide for Everyday Living, by Lee Gruenfeld
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