Undocumented: A Kinder, Gentler Illegal

Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” So, one can say undocumented yet it is still illegal. We are a country of laws. Laws that need apply to everyone equally.

If it makes you feel better, call those millions of immigrants undocumented. It won’t alter the fact that they are here in violation of the law.

The question is how to best deal with it.

Although solid numbers are difficult to derive, research indicates a significant number of “undocumented” aliens who are eligible to apply for citizenship do not. The various reasons cited are an inability to speak English, cost (around $680) or just a choice not to bother. (Pew Research Foundation)

I must be missing something.

There are any number of opportunities to learn English. If living in fear of deportation is not a motivation what is? Perhaps we are doing a disservice by having multi-language signs.  If everything was in English, it might motivate people.

And while I realize $680 may seem a fortune to minimum wage workers, it is also something one can save given the same potential for deportation. Offering some sort of discount might be less expensive than building a wall.

I empathize with the so-called “dreamers,” brought here as children and living in the quasi-world of raised in America without the benefit of citizenship. But what have they done about changing their status? That begs the question, why should we help you if you’re not willing to help yourself?

So, perhaps this should be the test. What efforts have you made? Have you tried to learn English? Thrown change in a jar to save for the cost? Made any effort to become a citizen?

If the answer is no, I have no sympathy. It may seem unfair, looking at how many American citizens by birth underappreciate this country. It may seem frustrating that natural born citizens show no interest in being good Americans. But life is not fair. While one cannot choose their citizenship at birth, this country does offer a path.

That path may be hard. It may be steep. It may be long. But there is an attainable goal if you want it bad enough.

To expect us to carry you up the path, or pave it, or shorten it is not fair to all those who have conquered that path before you.

If you want to be a citizen, to contribute to the country, to participate in the great experiment of the people, by the people, and for the people, great.

Show us your willingness to earn it.

If you expect us to simply legislate you in because you want to be here, that is not going to happen.

Wanting to live in this country, with all its opportunities, comes at a price. The price is a willingness to try. Taking those first steps down that path to show us your sincerity is a great start.