Obligation and Citizenship

Who “deserves” citizenship?

That is the question.

I will preface this by saying that my father fetched my mother from S. Korea, married her, and I was born here in the United States, as a US citizen, and when I was about 10, I remember my mother studying for the citizenship test (I helped her) and I remember her being sworn in as a US citizen. I don’t know if you’d call me an anchor baby, but my parents were legally married here in the US after my dad brought her here legally, so I’m going to own my red, white, and blue blood, regardless of what you say. The funny thing is that I have a sister who was born in Germany and another sister who was born in Korea. We’re a military family.

Anyway, I have seen some articles where illegal Mexicans and South Americans have claimed to be deserving of citizenship because they have lived here for a long time, contributing to this country.

I disagree.

When you start your stay here by breaking the laws of this nation, I believe you forfeit any “rights” you think you accumulate by not getting caught by immigration. That’s our failure in not catching you, but it’s your failure in not recognizing that you became a criminal the first step you took on American soil without having applied for the right through the visa or immigration process.

And yet we have what would be considered “innocent” victims of parents breaking laws. Enter the DREAM Act, right?

I have tutored a DREAM Act kid. I think I mentioned previously that I was volunteering as a tutor at the local college campus. I had this kid come in and we were sort of chatting as he did his homework (and I corrected his errors as he worked) and he casually mentioned he was a DREAM Act kid. He came here when he was young and he was working 2 jobs to pay for college and bettering himself. I had a very hard time hating on this kid. He was doing what so many people across the world wished to do. He was living in America, working, supporting himself, educating himself, and by dint of Executive Decree, he was staying here with the blessings of our federal government.

And then I read this today and that DREAM Act kid faded into the background.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women who have helped American soldiers in war zones, risking their lives (and sometimes giving their lives), and yet, because they are not in nations that share the same border as the US, they languish in State Department hell, hoping for a reprieve.

I will flat out state it, they DESERVE the shot at citizenship more than any person who broke the law to get here. They deserve our visas, our application of “refugee status,” our asylum. If you risk your life to help this nation in war, if you risk your life to help our fighting men and women, you go to the head of the line.

And I will say, there are millions, literally millions of illegal immigrants sucking up resources that should be rightly applied towards helping get these interpreters and their families here to safety in America.

What is our obligation? What is the moral and right thing to do? Families south of the border are handing their children over to strangers because they believe they will get a “permiso.” And their children do. Regardless of the protestations of the Obama administration, a “permiso” is a piece of paper allowing them to stay in our nation and they are given that. I don’t care if it says they have to appear on a certain date to face an immigration judge, it is still a piece of paper that gives them permission to stay here in safety until they bother (or don’t) to appear.

We used to be a shining beacon of justice, fairness, egalitarian life. From back when the Vietnamese clung off helicopter landing skids to today, we have made an implied promise to those who helped us that we would protect them, take care of them, keep them safe.

And we fail. Daily, we fail.

In the fall of 2012, for instance, the State Department had granted just 32 visas among more than 5,700 applicants for the immigration pathway, which Congress established in 2009.

Think about that. Thirty-two visas spread amongst Afghanis and their families who risked everything to help Americans.

And yet, by the very simple thing of a shared border and a southern neighbor who jails US Marines for accidentally crossing the border with guns but won’t stop the flow of immigrants from nations more south, we have this invasion of men, women, and children, who, although I feel sorry for their personal straits, have not EARNED the right to be here.

When are we going to say enough? When are we going to stand up to those who sit up there in Washington, DC, waxing eloquent on a “refugee crisis” and a “humanitarian issue” and we sit idly by as true refugees try to Occupy US Embassy in Iraq and Afghanistan to prevent their own beheadings and those of their families?

Stand up. Say something. Rail against this ridiculous situation and make your voice heard. I know you are smart enough to use Google, search out your Representative and Senators, and make your voice heard on this issue. We Americans need to say that there are some deserving more than others.

EDIT: This is what I am talking about when I say these interpreters deserve our consideration first and foremost.

There, in the war-torn region and still in harm’s way, remained Kinsella’s Afghan combat interpreter, Mohammad — a slim, reserved man who had stood by his side in moments of looming danger. Marked for death by the Taliban because he helped the Americans, Mohammad’s father had been tortured and murdered, and his younger brother held for ransom.

“Until I got him out of there,” Kinsella said, “all of my men weren’t home.”

After 3½ years of frustrating efforts to get Mohammad a visa, Kinsella finally stood at San Francisco International Airport in January, waiting to embrace a man he calls his brother.

He gave his father, his 3 year old brother was kidnapped, he can’t even be named because his family is still at risk of death, and he is here, working, and his goal is US citizenship. As the Marines say, Semper Fidelis. Good on Marine Capt. Adrian Kinsella. Over three long years and he remained faithful.

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