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The [Tuesday] Papers

The big hang-up a lot of folks seem to have when it comes to pro-immigration marchers and activists is the difference between legal immigrants and illegal immigrants. And that indeed is an important distinction. It explains the comparison of this movement to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

While not a direct equivalent, consider that in the civil rights struggle, African-Americans broke the law - practiced civil disobedience, such as sitting in the front of a bus or at the lunch counter at the local diner - to demonstrate both the rights that ought to have been theirs and the absurdity of the laws that made their actions illegal.

Our immigration laws are absurd.

While illegal immigrants didn't follow the law to get here, they did something even more courageous: They risked life and limb to make a better life for themselves and, in many cases, even more so, for their children. You might say that no one wants to be an American more than an illegal immigrant from Mexico.

The Sensenbrenner bill that passed the U.S. House in December and sparked this movement would have made illegal immigrants felons, among other anti-immigrant measures. I guess the crime of illegally entering the country had previously been a misdemeanor.

[UPDATE/CLARIFICATION 2:55 p.m.: ArchPundit writes the Reporter to say that "being in the country illegally is generally a civil violation of the law and not a misdemeanor. The Sensenbrenner bill would have made it a criminal felony and then an amendment was introduced to make it a misdemeanor because Sensenbrenner figured out how much it would cost to provide defense lawyers for all of those defendants.

"All the more irony that, because Democrats voted against making it a misdemeanor because they thought it shouldn't be a criminal matter, the GOP then claimed Dems wanted to keep it a felony as the bill originally called for."

ArchPundit's own post on the matter is here. ]

Making it a felony, among other provisions, is how we quickly move from the Sensenbrenner bill to the specter of rounding up and deporting 13 million or so people. It's untenable.

(Illegal immigrants, by the way, don't just come from Mexico. In one TV report I saw yesterday, an Irish-American leader said that there were thousands of undocumented Irish in Chicago. If Ireland were on our border, maybe we'd be talking about them, not Mexicans.)

No one is arguing that the law doesn't matter. They are arguing that there has got to be a better way to deal with immigration than making lawbreakers out of those whose dreams and determination to be Americans are the strongest.

And as far as rights go, the U.S. Constitution is built upon the idea that human beings have "inalienable" rights; borders, nation-states and governments are artificial creations, but every human being has the innate rights of the pursuit of life - the right to not be denied food and shelter, for example - and rights of expression both political and religious.

Do we really want to say that undocumented workers (and their kids) are not entitled to the basic rights of human dignity?

We all know that our border security is a joke. The Bush Administration has been in office for more than five years now; more than four years since 9/11. Security was supposed to be its strength. Let's not let the failure of this administration (and that of the Republican-controlled House and Senate) to secure our borders and develop a more sensible immigration policy wreak havoc on those whose aspirations strengthen our economy and whose cultural contributions strengthen our nation. Both, incidentally, make us more secure.

Illegal immigrants are here. I, for one, am heartened to see them grow into citizens willing to take to the streets to show us all democracy in action. If only more of us were like them.

Deport Don: Does Don Wade still have a job?

A Day Without Taste: At The Naperville Sun.

Front Page Focus: The cover of the Chicago Sun-Times today strikes me as a decent snapshot of where our country stands at the moment. Of course, the dominating feature is a huge photo of marchers on Jackson and Wabash. The headline is a quote from a banner: "We Are America."

Stripped above the photo is the name Tadahito Iguchi, today's featured White Sox player in the paper's "mini-baseball" promotion.

Below the lead headline is a much smaller one that points to America's still unfolding story concerning race: "Desegregation Fight Ending."

Aside that is another small headline: "FBI Got Personal Info From Brokers Under Investigation."

Yup, that's pretty much where we're at.

At the Blue One: The Tribune's front page headline is "United They March."

Rounding up the Best of the Rest: If you have neither the time nor the inclination to read all of the coverage, here is a roundup of the best and brightest from the two major metros:

In "Fairness For Immigrants More Important Than Fences," Mark Brown produces the day's best column. "The only thing more remarkable than the massive number of people who participated in Monday's immigrant rights march here was how quickly and quietly they dispersed upon finally arriving at Grant Park," Brown writes.

"It was as if they just melted into the background from which they had emerged that morning, seamlessly returning to the shadow society that they have been forced to create for themselves in the absence of sensible immigration laws.

. . .

"[I] would have liked for those who want to get rid of these folks to explain to me why exactly they belong here and the immigrants don't, other than that we were born on the opposite sides of an imaginary line . . . For me, the issues of social justice far outweigh concerns about the legality of border crossings."

*

On the Sun-Times Op-Ed page, Dave Gorak, executive director of the Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration, opens "Showing They Don't Respect The Law" with a quote from Antonio Garza, US Ambassador to Mexico: "There is no human right to enter another country in violation of its laws."

Does that also mean there is no human right to leave a country - say, Cuba - in violation of that country's laws?

*

Eric Zorn struggles to find the message of Monday's march until he alights upon a T-shirt that says "Don't take my dreams away."

*

Michael Sneed, who we learn has Mexican yardmen, "reports" from the North Shore by checking in with her dog-walker and her brother-in-law.

*

I've heard some folks say they are upset that illegals are "demanding" rights they ought not have because they are not citizens. But some level of rights accrues to those who work in our country, don't you think? "Immigration rights are also worker rights," union leader Christine Boardman told the Sun-Times.

*

Where would Jesus stand?

"After the speeches," the Sun-Times reports, "Cardinal Francis George and other priests led the crowd in prayers in Polish, Spanish and English. Next came a moment of silence to commemorate all who died crossing the border or in other immigration mishaps. They sang 'Amazing Grace' and 'The Lord's Prayer' in Spanish and released five white doves. 'God bless us all,' one of the priests said, closing the rally about 5 p.m."

*

There were no arrests.

*

"This is a condemnation of both governments," a teachers-union advisor in Mexico City told the Tribune's Hugh Dellios. "The government of Mexico, for not creating conditions so our countrymen can stay here with dignified jobs, and the U.S., for these anti-immigration laws that turn people into criminals."

*

How Illinois members of the House voted on the Sensenbrenner bill, courtesy of the Tribune:

Democrats Yes - Lipinski, Bean, Costello.

Democrats No - Rush, Jackson, Gutierrez, Emanuel, Davis, Schakowksy, Evans.

Republicans Yes - Kirk, Weller, Biggert, Hastert, Johnson, Manzullo, Shimkus.

Republicans No - None.

Republicans Not Voting - Hyde, LaHood.

*

Dave Hoekstra says in the Sun-Times that Bruce Springsteen "delivered the most expressive concert of his career" in New Orleans on Sunday. An exhilarating thought, given Springsteen's early, soul-baring marathons. But Bruce is in the moment right now, with his new record of Pete Seeger covers (apparently much better than that sounds) amidst a new slew of searching protest songs trying to comprehend a nation that seems to have unraveled. More to the point, has an American city outside of New York ever mixed this country's melting pot legacies, both proud and shameful, to better effect than New Orleans? Just sayin'.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Mexicans welcome. Legal or not.



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Posted on May 2, 2006


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