"Illegals are illegal!" or so the anti-immigrant rant goes, sometimes as an exclamation point at the end of an argument, but often the phrase serves as the whole argument, like "duh, what else do I need to say?"
Well, more might be good. As an English as a Second Language teacher, I've certainly taught my share of the children of "illegals," or undocumented workers, and I was pleased to do it for the simple reason that it'd be beyond dumb not to. Beside the fact that these kids had no choice when they came here. Not to mention, that just about any reputable study that's been done on the economic effect of undocumented workers is that it's either a wash (the benefits are roughly equal to the costs) or a slight benefit to the economy.
But what really gets me about this shibboleth of "illegals are illegal" is that it supposes that the rest of us, "legals," are so damn law-abiding that we're just aghast that anything illegal is going on in our midst, more like "shocked," the way Captain Renault is in Casablanca. So my question is: what planet are these people from?
My father, a retired accountant, used to joke that the greatest massacre of all times occurred in 1987 when seven million American "children" just disappeared suddenly after the IRS required social security numbers for dependents, so "legal" Americans could no longer get away with cheating on their income tax by listing their pet hamsters, goldfish, pet rocks, pookas, and otherwise imaginary friends as dependents.
And we should be shocked by illegality?! Do these people drive on our freeways? Maybe where you are it's different, but here in Texas, when you drive on the freeway, you'll discover the Wild West isn't dead. Hell, it's not even wounded. What you'll experience is near anarchic conditions where drivers careen through traffic as if they're driving bumper cars, not lethal weapons.
Try this experiment sometime if you feel like risking your life: drive the speed limit. You'll be passed on your left by hip-hop wanna-bes and on your right by "mature" folks high-tailing it to a bingo game in their Ford Crown Victorias. Both of whom will give you a special hand signal telling you that you're number one with them.
Shocked by illegality? Hell, we swim in it. Think about my famous neighbor to the east, ensconced in the tony Dallas suburb of Preston Hollow, ex-President George W. Bush, living the high life, in part, on our dime. Since leaving office as one of the most unpopular Presidents in recent history, he has been honored any number of times, especially here in north Texas. In 2009 the Texas Rangers honored him by having him throw out the first ball in their season opener. And, in turn, the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Not to be outdone, that same year the Dallas Cowboys had him do the coin toss at their inaugural game at Jerry World, localspeak for Cowboys Stadium. In 2010 the Texas History Museum Foundation, honored him as a history-making Texan.
History-making? Why, yes, I suppose so. This is the same George W. Bush who called himself the decider and is unambiguously guilty of the supreme international crime of aggression against Iraq, a country that never attacked us and whose third-rate military was in no way a real threat to us. Even if they had WMD's, which they didn't, they had no delivery system, outside of FedEx.
Think about it. Bush started an unnecessary war, a war of choice, that killed at least 100,000 people, displaced more than a million, and brought untold misery to countless others. Everyone, from American service personnel to Iraqis, who has suffered because of that unnecessary war owes their suffering to one man, George W. Bush.
He also admitted in his book, Decision Points , that he ordered waterboarding. Regardless of his hired legal guns, who came up with "legal" justifications for it, waterboarding has historically been considered torture. More than sixty years ago, the US tried and convicted Japanese who waterboarded American and allied prisoners.
If a head of state orders torture, that is an international crime. As human-rights lawyers Katherine Gallagher and Claire Tixiere stated, "Torturers -- even if they are former presidents of the United States -- must be held to account and prosecuted." If Bush is never tried for what he did, you can bet that future world leaders, including US Presidents, will allow torture and, why not, commit the supreme international crime of aggression because they know they'll be able to do it and never face any consequences.
In my part of the world, the great state of Texas, we say we're law abiding. The truth is, we even tend to lean toward the self-righteous,"Illegals are illegal!" But don't let our words fool you, we're not near as law abiding as we make out. Cheating on our income tax -- no problem, if we can get away with it. Speeding -- fine, if we need to and the police are nowhere in sight. And war crimes -- just hunky-dory when it's our side committing the crimes. In fact, here, not only do we ignore our international crimes, we'll even honor those who commit them. Shocked by illegality? Nobody should be around here.