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"We're criminals, and we demand our rights to break even more of your laws!"

As I've said before, one of Boston's great strengths is it's one of the few two-newspaper cities left in this country. With the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald continuing to compete with each other, neither can afford to get too lazy or too complacent. And both have staked out their turfs. The Globe is the "boring broadsheet," the mainstream liberal paper (owned by the New York Times) that manages to put its own "spin" on news whenever it thinks it can get away with it. Meanwhile, the Herald is the scrappy tabloid, always willing to go for the fun, the lurid, the eye-catching (this morning, they wrote about some undercover cops who busted a woman who stole tens of thousands of dollars' worth of merchandise from Victoria's Secret as "the thong arm of the law"). And politically, they tend to be conservative -- a real trick in the bluest of blue states.

Which is why I was so horrified to see rampant Political Correctness all over this story this morning.

Yesterday, a large number of Brazilian immigrants held a rally at the state house, calling for a change in the law that would let them pay in-state tuition to attend state colleges in Massachusetts. I was puzzled at first, because if they live in Massachusetts, then they ought to be able to do so already -- as far as I know, there's no citizenship requirement for the tuition break, purely residency.

Then I read further. These are "undocumented" aliens.

That's right. We have a whole bunch of illegal aliens who are going to show up in Boston today and publicly demand that their illegal status be ignored and they be granted some of the privileges given to those who obey the law.

My first instinct is to blow off work, go down to the "rally," and impersonate an Immigration official to see if I could start a panic. But that, while a tremendously tempting fantasy, would be wrong. My next thought would be to call in a tip to ICE, telling them that a whole group of illegal aliens will be in the Massachusetts state house today, freely confessing to their illegal status. But that would be futile.

(Oh, what the hell. I just did. I called 1-866-DHS-2-ICE and told them that a whole bunch of illegal aliens will be in Boston today, at the state house, and if they wanted more details, they could check out the Boston Herald. There's two minutes of my life I won't ever get back.)

Let me get this straight: these people are ILLEGAL ALIENS. They specifically do NOT want government attention -- unless they want something for free. They want all the benefits of being legal residents, but don't want to be bothered with any of the obligations of playing by the rules, nor taking the time to actually do things legally.

A lot of people often call those of us who get seriously bent out of shape over illegal aliens "racist" or "anti-immigrant" or "xenophobic" or a whole host of other, similar charges. To head them off, let me spell out just why I personally get so angry:

1) Nobody likes people who cut in line. We have a clearly-established procedure for people who want to come to the United States, and every year millions of people follow it. If we don't establish that that way is the best way, the only way, then we are in essence punishing all those people who are following the rules, obeying the laws, and doing the right thing. We owe it to all our legal immigrants to honor their efforts and commitment.

2) In this particular case -- the in-state tuition -- it's fundamentally unfair. States essentially subsidize the residential students to attend the state colleges, because the lion's share of the college's money comes directly from the state. Non-residential students pay a lot more, and that "lot more" is usually based on the actual cost of the education provided.

But that state money comes from taxes. And let me give you a hypothetical example. Suppose I lived in New Hampshire, but worked in Massachusetts. And say I wanted to attend a Massachusetts state college, while remaining in New Hampshire but keeping my Massachusetts job. I would be paying taxes to Massachusetts, which in part would fund that college, but I couldn't receive the tuition break that in-state students get. In other words, I, an American citizen and a taxpayer to the state of Massachusetts, would have fewer rights than an illegal alien.

3) This one escaped my notice for a while, until I heard someone point it out on a talk show. The article quotes one of the organizers, Fausto De Rocha, director of the Brazilian Immigration Center in Randolph, MA, as saying "The government is creating a subclass by not allowing Brazilian children to go to college to become professionals."

(Mr. De Rocha, by the way, is previously on record as saying that as many as 70% of all Brazilians in Massachusetts are here illegally.)

I have a very simple question for Mr. De Rocha: professional WHAT? They're ILLEGAL ALIENS. They CAN'T WORK HERE LEGALLY. Just what are they going to do with those degrees? The only thing they could do LEGALLY would be to return to Brazil and take up their professions there -- which means that the taxpayers of Massachusetts are essentially subsidizing the development of Brazil.

A while ago, I had a friend who was a bit on the neurotic side. She was feeling miserable once (as was her wont), and she started thumping her head against the wall. I asked her why she was doing that, and she answered "because it feels so good when I stop."

Every time I find myself writing about the illegal alien situation, a little more of the humor of that situation slips away, and the more reasonable a response it seems.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "We're criminals, and we demand our rights to break even more of your laws!":

» MacStansbury.org linked with TextualHarassment: October 25

» NIF linked with Excuses are like ...

» euphoricreality.net linked with Drop Zone - OPEN POST

» Eclipse Ramblings linked with What part of "illegal" is not being understood?

Comments (16)

I am the wife of a naturali... (Below threshold)

I am the wife of a naturalized US citizen. We jumped through all the confusing, expensive hoops. Now my husband's retired parents are jumping through the hoops, including demonstrating through their financial records and ours, as their sponsor, that they will not resort to public funds for five years.

Therefore, EVEN if these Brazilians were legal resident aliens, they MIGHT not be eligble for the in-state rate unless they've been here five years. I may be wrong about this, but at least they certainly have no right to public assistance such as welfare.

It annoys be enough that illegals can give birth here and then stay because their child is a US citizen (that law should be revised so that it applies if the parent is a US citizen or heck, even a legal resident). It bugs me that illegals can receive free health care and education, but at least that makes some kind of sense in humanitarian terms.

Thanks for outlining the situation so cogently.

As the husband of a LEGALLY... (Below threshold)

As the husband of a LEGALLY naturalized US citizen, let me say "AMEN"!

My wife's father came to America to start a business and work hard to provide a better life for his family. They all went through every hoop that was set up for them to jump through on the way to becoming citizens.

We were just dating when she was sworn in at Faneuil Hall in Boston with a couple hundred or so others. And believe me, this process didn't just happen overnight. We're talking 16 years or so since they came here.

Did I mention "LEGALLY"?

To see these freeloaders waltzing in here illegally, getting educated in our public shools, on my dime, and then having the nerve to ask for a tuition break on top of so that they can theoretically go home and NEVER pay taxes to the state that subsidized their unlawful existence is simply appalling.

"It annoys be enough that i... (Below threshold)

"It annoys be enough that illegals can give birth here and then stay because their child is a US citizen."

This comment is absolutely, totally false. It's a myth. Under immigration law, only when the US Citizen child turns 21 can they sponsor an alien parent for a green card. That's a pretty long time to wait to get legal, and even then the parent needs to prove that they entered the country legally. Otherwise, they have to leave the country to request a green card visa, and if they've been "unlawfully present" for a year or more, they can't come back for 10 years.

In the meantime, if they get put into removal (deportation) proceedings, the only way they can stay as illegal aliens is if they show that they've already been here 10 years, and that their removal would result in "extreme and exceptionally unusual hardship" to the US citizen child. Ask any immigration lawyer how easy that test is to prove.

The problem that you all should be complaining about is lax enforcement, not that the laws on the books aren't tough enough already.

The problem that you all... (Below threshold)

The problem that you all should be complaining about is lax enforcement, not that the laws on the books aren't tough enough already.

Hear, hear. It's simply not possible to know whether more laws are needed until we know whether full and faithful enforcement of existing laws takes place first.

That was why the Clinton Administration's call for more gun laws derailed after the NRA noted that they weren't bothering to enforce the laws already on the books.

Unclear verbiage on my part... (Below threshold)

Unclear verbiage on my part. That paragraph should have read:

"Hear, hear. It's simply not possible to know whether more laws are needed until we know whether full and faithful enforcement of existing laws is having the desired effect."

Sorry. I lost track of what I was saying in mid-sentence. Must... have... caffeine...

I am an American who has be... (Below threshold)
Will Pickering:

I am an American who has been living in Brazil since 1998 and am married to a Brazilian. I can tell you based on my observation of Brazilian culture that a lot of Brazilians just downright hate to pay their bills and, if they can get away with it, manipulate other people or the system in order to get someone else to pay their debts. This is true whether they owe the corner bar or the World Bank. They are also terrible cheapskates and incessantly whine about the cost of everything. Therefore, your post doesn't surprise me in the least.
The president of Brazil was in Portugal last week, and high on his agenda was a request that the Portuguese government waive the filing fee (between 70 aand 700 euros) that the thousands of illegal Brazilians in Portugual would have to pay in order to be legalized. This is the type of thinking behind the protests in Boston. A lot of Brazilians complain about this mentality, but to get by in a corrupt system where everybody else is always pulling cheezy moves, you kind of have to go along to get along.

[Fulll disclosure notice: I attend grad school here at one of the country's best univesities, and, like all the other students, the tax payers pay for every dime of my education. It's considered more or less a "right".]

This is the best part of bl... (Below threshold)

This is the best part of blogs. They show you that there are other people outside of the people you hang around with that believe the way you do. The MSM always reports as though people who think like this are out of touch, when in reality, it's them.
Thanks for keeping us informed. My only real question is, How can these reporters not question this as you do? That's the real story. How Legal Immigrants are getting the shaft.

This is why I have an unwav... (Below threshold)

This is why I have an unwavering skepticism regarding the President's immigration policy. It only seems to lead to the eventual development of a whole class of aliens who feel they have some claim on entitlements in our country. Why? Because they are working here to fill the lowest paying jobs but can't survive living here on those wage. And you know, I wouldn't put it by some legislators (and Presidents) to actually acquiesce to these folks and then expect the average American to pay for the "subsidy".

I don't know folks,,, I can... (Below threshold)

I don't know folks,,, I can't imagine those people who are illegal as having the nads to go out and protest... The illegal folks I see at the Dunkin Donuts will run fast if they suspect anyone can endanger their stay here. And the illegals who I know are hard working and willing to take the gigs that the spoiled sons and daughters (raised by the children of the 60's and 70's) wouldn't even dream of doing.

I'm so tired of the old arg... (Below threshold)

I'm so tired of the old argument: "they take the jobs no one else would do". So now they want driver's licenses, health care, in-state tuition...

How would they feel about those jobs, say, if they actually started PAYING TAXES to support the benfits they're so "entitled" to?

I'm sure they would be much less attractive. So it seems to be a choice: be legal, pay your taxes, and get what benefits you're eligible for (eligible is a much better word than "entitled").

Or work illegally, take home your cash, and get squat from US, not the U.S. Government, US the taxpayers.

I never said they should be... (Below threshold)

I never said they should be entitled to free health, free tutition etc,,, and for the life of me, I don't understand why Bush is so enamored with Vincete Fox. I'm just saying what I have seen firsthand, and I have lived in Boston, in Houston, and I've visited Brasil.

RedhandYou're righ... (Below threshold)


You're right in the strictest sense, but a minor US citizen's mother is very unlikely to be deported.

I totally agree with your stricter enforcement point, but I think that people have learned to manipulate the loopholes.

You know what? I should go ... (Below threshold)

You know what? I should go to Meheco and declare my citizenship there then sneek back across the border so I don't have to pay no taxes either.

Jay Tea:Here are m... (Below threshold)
Ryan A:

Jay Tea:

Here are my replies to the specific things that really get you angry with this issue:

1) Alot of Americans who hire these people dont give a damn whether or not the immigrants wait in line or not. Businesses and private citizens pretty much hire them regardless. Add to that the fact that we have laws that arent really enforced, for multiple reasons. Do the people who "wait in line" get screwed? Yep. Part of that is because there is alot of incentive for thousands of people to forgoe the line altogether.
Many people dont follow our rules because it doesnt really matter whether they do or not in many cases.

2) I agree with you on this point.

3) Professionals and people with higher degrees have an easier time becoming citizens of our country, according to the way that our immigration works...so many do come and work here by legal means.

I think that subclasses are created in this whole process. Large numbers of people are basically encouraged to come here by illegal means, such as the laborers that are hired by growers in Florida. People KNOW they can get jobs here. Now, when we have that large population inside our country that remains outside our legal system, well, thats bad for us and bad for the immigrants themselves. We have no way to monitor them, or control who comes and goes, since they avoid our law enforcement at all costs; and they are wide open for extortion and exploitation.

I've said this about 5 million times, but I'll say it again. People can bitch and complain all day long about the fact that people come here illegally, but what does that do? It PAYS to come here by circumventing the legal system, period. I'm not ascribing any judgement there; I'm just making an observation. If the penalty for speeding was only 25 cents I have a feeling that we would have alot more people going 95 on the freeways, regardless of the fact that it's ILLEGAL to do so.

The LEGALITY doesnt matter to many of the important players in this issue, apparently. Politicians ignore our immigration laws, businesses ignore them, individual citizens ignore them, law enforcement ignores them, and ultimately, of course, so do immigrants. I'm not saying that everyone ignores those laws, but enough do to make it a pretty problematic, and contradictory, situation.

What I dont do is try putting the ALL the blame on immigrants, since they are, in my mind, taking advantage of opportunities that exist here. I have to admit that if I were in the same shoes as some guy in Guatemala who makes 10 bucks a day, I would probably come here illegally too so that I could make 60-80-100 bucks a day. The math is easy, and the penalties are pretty slim. Well, except for the fact that they take pretty huge risks by being here without any legal standing. The risks to them have to do with extortion, working conditions, crime, exploitation, etc.

"You're right in the strict... (Below threshold)

"You're right in the strictest sense, but a minor US citizen's mother is very unlikely to be deported."

In case the audience hadn't tumbled to it, I'm an immigration lawyer. My politics are conservative, and I dislike the whole "open borders" mentality that many fellow members of the immigration bar have. I equally dislike Bush on immigration because of his (business-driven) benign neglect of immigration policy. That chicken is coming home to roost now because the collapse of Southern border security on his watch has made dealing with the 11M illegals here impossible; his "guest worker" program is a dead letter until he deals with the border.

Raven at "And Rightly So" had a good post recently, Illegal Immigration: Politics of Money & Our Representatives, that dealt with the economics of illegal immigration. It's here: http://andrightlyso.com/2005/10/19/illegal-immigration-politics-of-money-our-representatives/

Do check it out. I think it explains a lot behind Bush's "policy." And Raven is hardly an open borders type!

I'll offer a few other comments.

Many illegals do pay taxes by using ITINs rather than SSN's to report them. If they want to get legal they have to. It's part of a "good moral character" requirement.

With 11M illegals in country it's logistically, economically and politically impossible to deport them all. Bush's comments suggesting the contrary are "run-for-cover" political bullshit of the rankest kind. Not even he believes it. It's no accident that Wal-Mart got burned using illegals as subcontractor employees, to cite one example. The "dirty secret" of present immigration policy is that cutting costs by using illegals makes economic sense, and corporate America is driven by the morality of the marketplace.

Moreover, if you look at many illegals from a humanitarian point of view, as I am forced to do, why is it that an illegal who entered legally and later overstays can marry a US Citizen and get a green card, while someone who enters without inspection (we call 'em EWIs in the trade) can't? That's what the law is folks (so long as they DON'T LEAVE before getting the green card).

One policy justification for this-- the only one I can think of -- is that is you "dis" our law so totally that you don't even enter legally, you deserve to be screwed when you try to get legal, but this is what the last "amnesty" that expired in April 2001 addressed in part. They could get legal by paying a $1000 fine to cure the illegal entry (even though illegal entry is a CRIME punishable by six months in prison, a provision that's almost NEVER enforced). As for me, I see too many tragic situations where EWIs marry Americans, have a bunch of kids, and are STUCK. Problem is it hurts the family as much as the alien. It doesn't make good sense from a policy standpoint either.

There is no question that the system is broken. Last year we had more illegal immigrants than legal ones. Think about that for a minute. As a lawyer in the biz, I have an economic interest in not becoming irrelevant. As someone interested in the rule of law, I am appalled at the disrespect for our justice system that this statistic shows.

Something really has to give in the next year or so. I'd take a trade-off for MUCH STRICTER BORDER CONTROL in exchange for dealing with the 11M we have now humanely and constructively. I don't really think there's much other choice at this point.

It's not unrealistic nor im... (Below threshold)

It's not unrealistic nor impossible to identify and deport a great majority of those "11 million" who are in the country illegally, as described.

It's a huge task but it's not unrealistic nor impossible. We just need people in hire of authority who are able and capable to do the job and get the ones out of office who are there now, instructing in the defeatist attitudes.






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