How About We Call them Humans?

The Texas Tribune, bless their hearts, provided us a debate today on whether a group of human beings who are simply looking for economic opportunity should be called “unauthorized” or “illegal.”

Right-wing Rep. Jose Aliseda of Beeville, seems to be trying his best to separate himself from Latinos, though he does take the “legal” route.

Referring to persons, things and matters in their proper legal terms and common definitions is very important for a lawyer and should be important for a layperson and society as a whole. This is supposed to be a nation of laws, after all.

In that case, I’ll refer to him in a more human terms:  insensitive, selfish, egotistical, and self-loathing.

On the “unauthorized” side is Dan Kowalski, who gives a better argument in terms most lawyers, unlike Aliseda, would understand.

To the question, what part of “illegal” don’t you understand? I answer: every bit of it, including the distinction between jaywalking and murder, between littering and grand theft; in short, between malum prohibitum and malum in se — that is, the things we’ve decided to regulate versus the things we all agree are evil.

Of course, there are also the things that people like Aliseda turn away from, like the blatant disregard of the Voting Rights Act as if the undocumented are going around committing voter fraud. Aliseda and his sort will create “voter fraud” and violate the very laws that protect voters. But no, let’s blame an easier, defenseless target.

Although I can see where Kowalski is headed with his argument for “unauthorized,” in that it is a status that can be changed, it seems society generally fails to point to the positive aspects of the immigrant community; especially in the overall debate. Instead we get into debates like these, and Republican La-TEA-Nos like Aliseda can promote hate-filled legislation and force positive legislation to die in the name of politics–a vote.

I appreciate Kowalski’s end that we should be pushing for comprehensive immigration reform. But whether it is right-wing hate-speech or the indifference of a Democratic administration that chooses to waste political capital on other things, CIR is not happening, thus giving the Trib the ability to debate words, rather than help push the effort for CIR.

I wonder what Aliseda would call my 4th generation American mom, or my 2nd-generation American dad who would gather old clothes for, and provide food and drink to, “los mojaditos” who would be trekking along train tracks close to our house. I know I’d call them humanitarians.

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