Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Conservative Family Values: Mexicans Need Not Apply

George W. Bush and his Republican government for the past eight years has committed many crimes--impeachable and in my view imprisonable offenses. Of course, the Iraq War being first among them, which ex-prosecuting attorney Vincent Bugliosi has made a compelling case for prosecuting W. on murder charges. One of W's other great crimes has been the silent revolution of turning the full force of our federal government against Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans. As a response to the pressure from anti-immigrant conservatives in the Republican Party (many of whom are still angry at the President for his proposal to allow some illegal aliens to one day gain citizenship), the US Dept. of Justice, INS, and ICE has stepped up efforts during Bush's second term to terrorize much of the Latino population of this country.

Here is but one example of this state terror, the kind you are unlikely to see on Lou Dobbs.

U.S. teen: 'I felt like there were no dreams for me'

WAXAHATCHIE, Texas (CNN) -- Julie Quiroz clutches her teddy bear crying. "Mommy," she says softly, as her mother wraps her arms around her and rubs her back. One of her brothers tries to console her. "You're going to come back," he says.

The 13-year-old Quiroz begins to walk away to catch an airplane from Mexico to the United States. Within moments, she rushes back to her mother's arms. "Mommy," she says again, tears streaming down her face.

Quiroz is one of an estimated 3 million American children who have at least one parent who entered the United States illegally, according to the Urban Institute, which researches and evaluates U.S. social and economic issues.

In Quiroz's case, she was born in Washington state, lived there her entire life and went to school there. But her mother, Ana Reyes, entered the United States illegally beforeQuiroz was born and U.S. immigration officials caught up with her last year on her birthday. Video Watch how deportation separates family »

"I was there when they handcuffed her," Quiroz says. "I was there when they took her down."

Two of her brothers, who had come with their mother to the United States when they were young children, also were taken into custody.

It was the start of a downward spiral for Quiroz. When her mother and brothers were deported, Quiroz and her 6-year-old, American-born sister had no choice but to return to Mexico City with them.

Her seventh-grade year was spent in a classroom where she didn't understand the language.

"I never belonged there," she says. "I'd just come home, sit down, cry. I'd say, 'Mom, I can't do it.' ... I can't read or write Spanish."

She adds, "I felt like there were no dreams for me."

Stories like these are becoming more common, immigration analysts say, with American children caught in the middle of their mother or father's illegal status. A report last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association said these children face "increasing risk of family separation, economic hardship and psychological trauma."

"It's really hard to imagine something that can be more traumatic than to be forcibly separated from their caregiver. That's the enforcement climate that we're operating in now," says Miriam Calderon, the associate director for education and children's policy at the National Council of LaRaza, the largest Hispanic advocacy group in the United States.

Calderon says the nation needs to enforce immigration laws, but currently there is a lack of a "consistent and comprehensive standard to ensure that children will be protected" when undocumented parents are taken into custody.

"Until a major immigration reform is enacted, the country will continue to cope with challenges resulting from the presence of roughly 12 million undocumented immigrants in our workforce and in our communities," said JanetMurguia, the president of NCLR, before Congress in May.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it's simply enforcing the laws on the books.

"ICE agents and officers are sworn to uphold all of our nation's immigration and customs laws," ICE press secretary Kelly Nantel said in a written statement. "We cannot pick and choose the laws we enforce. Parents make decisions that affect their families everyday.

"There are known consequences for violating our nation's immigration laws. It's unfortunate that parents choose to place their children in these difficult situations."

For Quiroz, her journey from America to Mexico City took an unexpected turn when her plight caught the attention of Joe Kennard, a land developer and Christian philanthropist. Kennard reached out to Quiroz's mother and told her the teen could live with his family in Texas and enroll in school there.

"You can make all the arguments that [the mother] deserved what she got because she was an adult, she made the choice, she was here illegally," Kennard says. "But why [punish] the children? They're innocent and they're born here and they're U.S. citizens."

His group, Organization to Help Citizen Children, works with churches along the U.S.-Mexico border to provide support for children whose mother or father is deported to Mexico.

Kennard hired a private tutor to get Quiroz up to speed for missing a year of schooling. "She's conflicted because she knows that she's got to get an education and this is the only way to do it. But she also feels the love for her mother and that's the torture."

Quiroz's mother then made the incredibly painful decision to implore her daughter to go to Texas, an unbearable decision for the teen to leave her family for her country and her future.

Her older brother, Carlos Quiroz, was about 3 years old when his mom took him to the United States last decade. He misses his sister, but knows he can't return. "I have to accept that ... and try to make it work," he says. Video Watch why Carlos Quiroz feels like an American »

He's working to get a job and hopes to enter college in Mexico. But his mind is still in the land he grew up in. "I don't feel like I belong here. I feel like I was taken out of somewhere where I belonged," he says. "My whole life is over there."

His sister is now living in Texas, adjusting to eighth grade and all the changes around her. When she's alone, she says it still hurts.

"I want to be in my mom's arms," she says, choking back tears.

The dream that keeps her going?

She's determined to become a lawyer to fight for kids who are forced to endure painful separations.

"My mom only came here to make a better life," she says. "I want to be a lawyer to help people in the same situation as me."


As mentioned in my comments with White Trash Academic from a previous post about the murder of Luis Ramirez in Pennsylvania, this country has a remarkable capacity for double standards when it comes to immigration. The same descendants of past immigrants (many of whom were in similar situations as Latino immigrants today) become more WASP than the Know Nothings of the 19th century when it comes time to enforce existing immigration laws (and it should be obvious who the targets of these laws are), but naturally never want to address the fact that had those laws been enforced when their ancestors came to this country it would have earned them a trip right back to Europe (to rot away and poison the body politic of that continent). For that matter, since European arrivals violated all of their treaties with this continent's first Americans (creating this country off the backs of those natives who were here first), and thereby making all subsequent actions (including immigration) a violation of our own laws, that these descendants will live by their own claimed principles, apologize for their outlawry, and take the first plane ticket back to the hills of the English islands. No, that is just history. It happens to everyone, they will say, even the Mexicans (most of whom are living in areas of this country that were originally a part of Mexico until the slaveholders in the Democratic Party manufactured a war with our neighbor to the South to expand their peculiar institution).

The rule of law only matters to the white conservative when it is enforced on someone else (much like the feigned patriotism of country music fans, fulminating against the Dixie Chicks, while riding around the hollows in pick-up trucks blazoned with the flag of a group of people who spent over four years trying to violently break this country apart). That is the beauty of hypocrisy. It just keeps on perpetuating itself without a care for its own incongruence.

What is even more duplicitous is that these folks come from the ranks of the advocates of family values--the kind of people who tell us that their love for unborn fetuses is borne by their heavenly reverence for the heterosexual family unit. Well, the white heterosexual family unit, because as this story shows such belief in family unity is no consequence when pretending to believe in the rule of law for the peoples they have been running away from to the suburbs and our gated communities for the past five decades.

Thanks be to their imaginary belief system that their skygod's son (who so happens to be the skygod) did not live under such rules over 2,000 years ago. He would have been considered the bastard son of illegals and his family liable for deportation from Bethlehem. I suppose even in that tale, it would be retold to fit their attitudes. I am certain it would look something like this.

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