I’ve had my share of fun at Lawrence, Massachusetts’ expense. I’ve called it “the armpit of the Bay State,” among other things. Every now and then, though, I hear something that makes me think there’s hope for the city. Most of the time, though, I end up having my hopes dashed.
Robert Mustafa was an outstanding student at troubled Lawrence High School. He was going into his senior year with a 3.96 grade average, 40th in his class of 396. He actually scored enough credits to graduate, but wanted another year to better prepare himself for college. He came here from the Dominican Republic without speaking English, but within four months of enrolling in school passed the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment Test on his first try.
But before he entered his last year of school, he and his family returned to the Dominican Republic for the summer. His father, a church accountant, made one fatal mistake while filling out the visa forms to return: he admitted that his son had attended school in the US previously — something not allowed on the “tourist” visa Robert was in the country under before. When it was discovered that he had violated the terms of that prior visa, immigration officials revoked all the family’s visas.
Now, I don’t think that Robert and his family pose some grave threat to national security or our economy. On the contrary — they sound like exactly the kind of immigrants we should be welcoming. I think that he and his family could be potentially tremendous assets to the United States.
But that doesn’t change the fundamental fact that they did break the law. The law is clear — if you’re a tourist, you’re only allowed to stay for a short time, and are NOT entitled to various services, such as education. I find it hard to believe that they did this through ignorance, but I’ll grant them the benefit of the doubt and say it was inadvertent. But the fact remains — they broke the law, and there must be no rewarding of lawbreakers if our immigration laws are to mean anything. The line has been trampled on for so long, it must be reasserted — and reasserted firmly, in every case.