Ever since I was a child, I’ve always been fascinated by roots. Ancestral roots, that is—the where, the why and the how behind a person’s existence. Lucky for me, my family has kept records from our ancestors, and there’s a pretty neat story about our place in the fabric of this country.
One direct ancestor of my grandmother’s was Civil War Gen. Henry Thomas, who garnered the nickname "The Rock of Chickamauga" after a particularly bloody battle (the second worst of the Civil War) in which he helped the North surmount all odds to win the fight.
My grandfather’s family also bears the history of a Civil War general—this time from the South—Gen. John Bell Hood, who was wounded at Gettysburg and even lost a leg fighting Gen. Thomas at Chickamauga.
We also have records—we’re still working on tracing this one—from a family member who claimed we’re descendants of Benjamin Franklin.
One can understand why my family might get a little irked by comments like these:
Quiero dedicar este premio a todos aquellos que hoy están interesados en que este país reconozca y acoja a todos los indocumentados que con su trabajo han construido este país, han alimentado a su gente y han atendido las necesidades más básicas de esta nación.
I want to dedicate this award to all those who today are interested in getting this country to recognize and welcome all the undocumented workers who, with their work, have built this country; have fed their people and who have attended to the most basic necessities of this nation.
That was Diego Luna, a Mexican actor who’s made quite a name for himself as an activist of fairly radical ideology, as he accepted an award for promoting Hispanic culture. (He’s currently wrapping up production of a film honoring Cesar Chavez.)
Though no one denies the often back-breaking work that many of these illegal immigrants take on for under-the-table pay, I beg to differ with Mr. Luna. I believe I’ve got a few ancestors who would too. Americans—yes, of all colors, creeds and backgrounds—built this nation.
People opposed to current immigration legislation in Congress gather at a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, July 15, 2013. The event is sponsored by a group called the Black American Leadership Alliance, which, in their words, does not want to "provide amnesty to over 11 million people who have entered the country illegally." Photo Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP
I have nothing against immigration (one would hope not—considering the many struggles my husband and I faced in order to bring him here legally). In fact, I agree with Luna on one point—many do come here seeking a better life.
I hardly begrudge them that . . . but we have laws. We have laws in place to protect the country from those who would do us harm. Our laws also protect the privilege that our citizenship entails. Contrary to a growing belief, our nation owes itself to us first. Where do our rights as citizens come in? When will our nation think of us first? After all—we are its citizens, no?
Luna went on to make similar comments, this time during this past week’s "Premio Lo Nuestro" Latino music awards show. Truly, it’s difficult to watch someone from another country demand that our nation hand out the privileges of residency and citizenship.
What truly irks me is the sense of entitlement. Per Luna, and so many others pushing for immigration reform—i.e. amnesty—calling the United States one’s home is an inherent right for everyone who wants it.
Should it be the dream of many? By all means. Is it a right? Absolutely not.
For me, it is a birthright passed down to me by those (legal immigrants, yes!) who in fact did build this nation. For those brand-new Americans who come here legally, it is a treasured privilege for which they paid dearly to obtain. To suggest that it is something to be handed out freely to those who knowingly and openly broke the law cheapens this great heritage.
Yet, our society—chiefly, our entertainment, our academia, and our leadership—champion this behavior; encouraging it incessantly.
Take Covered California, for example. Up until just a week ago, the website for the California State Obamacare Exchange contained encouraging language that comforted illegal aliens seeking health insurance for their families: “You shouldn’t fear if you are undocumented and you want to sign your family up for medical insurance."
Larry DeRocher, of Onawa, Iowa, right, and his grandson Blake stand outside a forum on immigration held by U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, in Ames, Iowa. Credit: AP
The site also went on to ensure the reader that no reports to Immigration and Customs Enforcement would be made. While a thorough perusal of the sight now reveals that this language has been taken down, if California state Sen. Ricardo Lara gets his way, passage of his "Health for All" law would mean that “undocumented immigrants would also have access to the benefits of the new healthcare law, and even receive subsidies.”
Let me get this straight—it’s alright to break the law in order to come here . . . but once here, these same individuals fully expect to receive the (so-called) benefits of another law?
Mind you, by virtue of their illegal status, they are not technically obligated to comply with the law in the first place. They’re not citizens, so they don’t actually have to buy insurance. Meanwhile, the rest of us face penalties for non-compliance, while our tax dollars (remember—if you’re illegal, you’re not paying income taxes) go to pay for the law.
Illegal immigrants, according to Diego Luna, “built this nation,” but yet don’t have to comply with its laws while receiving all the benefits therein? Such behavior shouldn’t be a celebrated facet of an otherwise beautiful Latino culture that is indeed a part of this nation . . . it is an abhorrence.
I ask you, is there really honor in celebrating those who did not ask for, but simply took what they wanted? As a society, we used to pride ourselves in uplifting the honest, and shaming the cheater. We did so because it made us stronger as a nation to be built on what is right, and not just what feels good.
When are we going to really start asking for honor and truthfulness when it comes to those who wish to join our great nation?
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