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Orphan Of The World

The Daily Bruin, the student newspaper for at least part of the University of California, has a rather dispiriting story. It's the tale of Stephanie Solis, a young woman who has lived in the United States nearly all her life. It wasn't until she was in college that her parents broke to her the unfortunate news: she was not an American, but a Filipino - and they had brought her to this country illegally.

With those few words, this young quintessential California girl's life fell apart.

Feeling incredibly betrayed by her parents (and with good reason), she moved out and started struggling on her own, seeking an education and taking what jobs she could to support herself and further her studies. But she has run into barrier after barrier, thanks to her illegal status.

It's a tough case, and there's a saying that tough cases make for bad laws.

So, what should be done about her?

First up, her parents need to be punished for their actions. They brought her here illegally, and I find it very hard to believe that Stephanie could be here illegally while they were not illegal. So they need to pay the price for their misdeeds, especially for how they wronged their daughter.

But what about Stephanie?

That's a tough one.

It seems to me that she is not guilty of the "original sin" here, of entering the country illegally. She was a child -- the story is vague on her exact age, and age of entry to the US -- and was little more than "baggage" at the point her parents entered the US. So I think it's appropriate to waive that element.

The instant she discovered she was here illegally, by law she should have reported herself immediately. Instead, she fled her parents and struck out on her own. Not the smartest response, but under the circumstances, eminently understandable. She had just discovered that pretty much her whole life was a lie, and her whole world fell apart on her. She was not in the best state of mind for making rational decisions.

Since then, she has tried to do the best she can. She's taken menial, under-the-table jobs. She has worked on pursuing her education, taking time off from school to raise the money for the next semester. And she's managed to keep her nose clean, at least enough to not attract the attention of the authorities.

She's still breaking laws, though, and that cannot be brushed under the carpet.

Here's my solution. It would make a lousy general policy, but I believe that her circumstances are unique enough to avoid setting a precedent:

If she turns herself in and pleads no contest to the immigration and labor laws she's violated, she's given probation for five years (or so) and ordered to pay back taxes. At that point, she is given provisional legal status to remain in this country, as well as the privilege of legally working. After five years, if she's stayed out of trouble and at least put a dent in the back taxes, she can request her record be expunged, and then can apply for citizenship.

At the crux of my anger over illegal aliens are a few elements: the "line-cutting" mentality, the sense of entitlement to come to this country and partake of the benefits without respecting the laws and rules, and the selfish disregard for our laws and our borders.

None of these apply in her case.

On the other hand, this nation did nothing to put Ms. Solis in the situation she finds herself in -- that was solely the work of her parents. In a strict sense, we "owe" her nothing as compensation for the terrible wrong they did her.

But while we are not obligated to give her anything to atone for their misdeeds, we certainly can give her a chance to earn what she so desperately wants -- legal status and, eventually, citizenship.

It won't be a gift. It'll take a lot of hard work and effort on her part to win them, and she'll have the fear of not succeeding hanging over her head for several years while she struggles.

Reading the article, though, I believe she can do it. And when she does succeed, both she and we will be the better for it.


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Comments (11)

This all sounds quite reaso... (Below threshold)

This all sounds quite reasonable to me - too bad beaurocracies and reasonability are mutually exclusive...

The Daily Bruin, t... (Below threshold)
Anon Y. Mous:
The Daily Bruin, the student newspaper for at least part of the University of California...
They're the student newspaper for UCLA.

On to the substance: I too am sympathetic to the plight of this young lady. However, for many of those who come here illegally, the main reason they do so is to improve their children's lives. If we allow this young woman to profit from her parents lawbreaking, it once again shows that the strategy works, guaranteeing that we will see more of it.

JT, I think your heart is i... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

JT, I think your heart is in the right place, but unfortunately that is what the politicians go for all the time. This problem has to be addressed pragmatically. We are in a place now with this illegal immigration debacle the there is no room for exceptions. I feel for this woman, but if we make one exceptions, millions of others will follow. ww

JT, I think your heart i... (Below threshold)
mantis:

JT, I think your heart is in the right place, but unfortunately that is what the politicians go for all the time. This problem has to be addressed pragmatically. We are in a place now with this illegal immigration debacle the there is no room for exceptions.

So much for compassionate conservatism.

Similar cases have dome up ... (Below threshold)
Rance:

Similar cases have dome up before. Infants were brought to the country by parents who overstayed their visas and went into illegal status along with the child.

There have been cases where the INS has deported these illegals to their parent's home country where they found themselves in a country where they didn't speak the language, understand the culture, had no family, friends, money, or job.

An interesting situation that I certainly wouldn't want to be thrown into.

So much for compas... (Below threshold)
Anon Y. Mous:
So much for compassionate conservatism.

If only that were true. So called "compassionate" conservatism gives us things like comprehensive immigration reform. The same guy who bills himself as a compassionate conservative also said "We have a responsibility that when somebody hurts, government has got to move." That's not conservatism, it's called progressivism.

Hundreds of laws in place t... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

Hundreds of laws in place to deal with her situation. Her running instead of using the legal system may doom her. She would have had no problem if had she contacted the most stupid politician in Ca (thousands available), but now it's risky. Maybe the Terminator can help or wipe out all that stand in the way.

The parents obviously broke... (Below threshold)
patrick:

The parents obviously broke the law by bringing her here illegally but her parents may well be legal. We have treaties with the philippinos that allow someone who serves in the armed forces to become a citizen. We also have extended Visas for working in the nursing feild and have a large philippino population in the Navy and in San Diego because of these treaties. One loophole strange enough is for her to marry a citizen right away. I had a student who was here illegally because she overstayed a Visa her parents (who are citizens)obtained for her. She married a guy at 18 and now has her papers, is in school and on my recommendation is working a good job in a department store.

The slant of the article is... (Below threshold)

The slant of the article is decidedly pro-illegal immigration. It's a sob story - a very touching sob story - but a sob story nonetheless.

I find myself conflicted on this particular case. I think she would make a great U.S. citizen, but granting her that would send a bad message to other illegal immigrants. Still, it's not her fault that she came here; that particular sin goes to her idiotic parents who didn't have the brains to foresee the trouble this would cause her.

It's a shame that she had to run away instead of seeking legal aid, but knowing USCIS's terrible track record of screwing up pretty much everything it touches, perhaps that was a good thing. I don't think that sending her back to the Philippines would do her or us any good.

This is a tough one, and I don't think I have an answer for it.

Tell the girl to marry an A... (Below threshold)

Tell the girl to marry an American and petition to stay rather than grant her any kind of special exemption. And if her parents aren't citizens deport them immediately.

Sorry for the lack of compassion, but if you make one exception you'll soon find yourself buried in sob stories, each one just as valid as the one before. The only way to fight this, is to be firm in holding people to the legal standard is it is today, and allow them to change it in the future if they feel its too harsh, not to piecemeal exceptions for every young kid who has discovered that mommy and daddy didn't bring them to the US legally.

No conflict of emotion here... (Below threshold)
UncleZeb:

No conflict of emotion here. Is she illegal? Tough,cya.




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