My First Real Rant

Today, while reading comments in a thread about Peggy Noonan's helpfulness to little brown people, I stumbled upon this little gem:

"I am a lifelong Democrat who is sick and tired of people trying to make
me feel that I OWE illegals something because their ILLEGAl presence should make me feel SOOOOOOOOOO fortunate that I am an American.

YOU want illegals here, YOU pay for them. Sponsor a family, smartass, and see where you end up. I no longer give to food banks, churches, fund drives that help illegals. I now spend my money on my relatives, especiallly the young families, by buying them groceries. I think God will smile on my 10% tithe going to my family.

If Americans wise up, we can make it VERY hard for illegals to drain our medical, social, and moral resources."

Wow. Just . . . wow.

I responded with a comment, but the comment box was simply too short for me to speak my piece. So here's everything I wanted to say:

Dear Jan -- Are you native american? If not, where did your family come from, and when?

My great-great-grandfather immigrated from Sweden in the 1800s, and when he got here, he was helped by a number of government, church, and social programs -- not the least of which was the Homestead Act of 1862, without which, he would never have been able to own property upon which to farm.

He didn't speak English when he arrived. He barely spoke English when he died. Also true of my great-grandfather, but he was born here, so no prob, eh?

US Naturalization had no English requirement until 1906, and the length of residency required was 5 years -- for everyone. No one had to get a "green card" to establish this residency in the US at the time he arrived.

Language barriers are the primary reason given, by people who otherwise qualify for citizenship, when asked why they don't apply. (There are exceptions to this requirement for those over 50, or who are deaf or other-wise disabled).

I'm guessing you were born here. In which case, you didn't have to file (and pay) for a green card, wade through piles of forms and waiting periods, or actually take an oath to "uphold the Constitution" (which immigrants are required to do), in order to enjoy the rights of US citizenship.

Cost for a green card triples at the end of this month, to $930.00 USD -- cost for citizenship application nearly doubles -- to $595.00 USD on July 30, 2007.

So, if you've ever gotten all weepy at the statue of liberty, while reading: "Give me your tired, your poor . . . " and thought of your own ancestors, you might want to re-think your definition of "illegals".

When we make legal citizenship so expensive, so arbitrary, and so difficult for those who want to come to this county, it's no small wonder that there are so many "illegals" (as you call them).

Cost of filing for citizenship (please note: this doesn't assure you of citizenship) -- $1,525.00 as of July 30, 2007, once you add up the required green card and citizenship applications. Plus the cost of finger-printing, etc.. -- Oh, and you get to pay $19.95 just to download the application online. And the study guide for the Citizenship test is $59.95. (Unless you're really persistent, and look beyond the initial Google result -- past the commercial venture that is making money off this, and can wade through all the links to find the "free" form at the actual government site.) But hey, you can get them both together for just $79.95!

Average time to process a naturalization request -- 2 years (after you have fulfilled the 5 year residency requirement -- just 3 year residency requirement if you've married a US citizen ! What a deal!). Oh . . . unless you're unlucky and have the wrong name, in which case, it might be 5 years after you apply for naturalization.

So, I fear that I'm going to "make you" even more sick and tired, Jan, by suggesting that you are, indeed, very fortunate to have been born here. I don't think that you "owe" anyone anything (unless you agreed to incur the debt). I do think that, if your ancestors benefited from an open immigration process, and a concept of equality for all in that process, and if you, and your family, have benefited from these processes, that your expressed attitudes are rather hypocritical.

You have been automatically endowed, by virtue of the location of your birth, and the nationality of your parents, rights that other people have died to defend, and died in the hope of obtaining. You didn't have to pay money, learn another language, take a test, be sequestered from traveling to visit your loved ones, or take an oath to defend the Constitution. You simply had to be born.

I despise the attitude "Well, I've got mine -- everyone else can fuck off!" I despise it in corporations, political figures, social groups, and individuals.

I consider it, dare I say -- Un-American.

And now, in interest of something I've been thinking about, I'm going to take an action on everything that I bitch about, and send a letter to the INS about high fees and inefficient processes.

Posted byPortlyDyke at 3:02 PM  


Graham said... July 7, 2007 at 5:00 PM  

Well, I've got mine -- everyone else can fuck off!

My great grandad (born in England, moved to Canada) used to have this expression:

I'm alright Jack, to hell with you

The sentiment was exactly the same.

PortlyDyke said... July 7, 2007 at 5:14 PM  

Yeah, Graham -- I've heard that one too. It just boggles my mind, really. I feel very blessed, and would want to help others to find their fulfillment.

Fritz said... July 7, 2007 at 5:15 PM  

A perfect response!

I have been fuming about people with attitudes like Jan's for years.

My maternal grandparents immigrated from Germany in the 1920s when they were barely out of their teens.

They started a family and became proud U.S. citizens.

Unfortunately, several of my grandmother's sisters were married to high-ranking Nazi officers. As a result, my grandparents and their five children (including my mother) were arrested and sent to an internment camp at Crystal City, Texas. They were forced to live with many Nazis and Nazi sympathizers -- whom they despised.

It would be easy for me to forget about how my grandparents were treated during WWII. My blond hair and green eyes give me easy access to the American Dream.

I choose to speak out against xenophobia and prejudice toward those who are in a situation similar to what my grandparents experienced. Americans can and should do better.

Phydeaux Speaks said... July 7, 2007 at 8:59 PM  

I hope you put a link to this on the comment thread where "Jan" put her drivel.

Like Fritz, my maternal grands immigrated - from Eastern Europe in their case (grandfather 1910 and grandmother twice - 1912 and then after the war (she had gone back to the old country to visit her mum) in 1919).

I'm not drawing any parallels to today's situation and the rampant xenophobia, but they were so determined to be "American" that my mom, born in '21, never even heard them (to the best of her memory) speak in their native language. And she's not even sure what country they came from. She says Czechoslovakia but a letter from her oldest brother (who was born in 1906 and wasn't allowed to leave "the home country" because so many young men had been killed in the war) to his mother, sent in 1968 came from Soviet Georgia. My cousins say that my grands denied being Russian due to the Revolution and the whole communist thing. The result is I am cheated of half of my heritage.

My Dad's ancestors, on the other hand, include Cherokee, Blackfoot and a signer of the Declaration of Independence (there's another reason I like 1776 so much). So I am both a victim and a perpetrator of all the bad things this country has done in the name of the State.

I'm not sure I have a point, but now you know more about your "twin". :D

PortlyDyke said... July 7, 2007 at 9:00 PM  

Fritz -- Thanks for your comment. I think it's really important for people to hear stories like the one about your grandparents.

Peggy Noonan's grandfather was an immigrant -- how can she simply blank out the prejudice and degradation that the Irish went through?

I believe that, if we forget our past, our future proceeds without benefit of what we might have learned.

PortlyDyke said... July 7, 2007 at 9:07 PM  

Thanks, too, Phydeaux, for your story.

My Dad's parents and grands spoke German (although the family had been in the US since the 1800s) -- but they didn't speak a word of it around him after WWI, much less during WWII, when he was growing up.

As a result, my Dad was denied the opportunity to grow up bi-lingual, which I think is a gift, not a "silliness" (per Noonan).

He also had a very difficult time dragging family stories forth from them, which has curtailed my understanding of my own roots on that side of my family.

I really hope this comment thread blossoms with the rich tales from immigrants/children of immigrants/grand- and great-grand, and great-great-grand children of immigrants.

And with tales from the original human residents of the US, who must have viewed all of the above as interlopers (Native Americans).

That would tickle me.

Gender Blank said... July 8, 2007 at 12:13 AM  

It makes me profoundly sad that Jan's default position seems to be that human people don't matter unless they meet a certain number of criteria. And unless those criteria are met, she "owes" these human people nothing. Not even respect as fellow human beings who are trudging their way through an existence which, on both a global and local level, is unfair and oppressive to almost everyone. I expect more from someone who puts herself in my camp as a "lifelong Democrat."

My default position, influenced pretty heavily by my history of being a "lifelong Democrat," is that human people, just by virtue of being human people, deserve respect and compassion until they meet a pretty unwholesome set of criteria (most of the -isms and all of the -phobias, delighting in kicking people while they're down, eating babies, etc.). Sadly, there is no shortage of people currently residing legally in my and Jan's very own country who live down to those standards every fucking day.

And some of them call themselves "lifelong Democrats." Are we that bad at getting out our message, or did our message change? 'Cause if so, I missed the fucking memo.

Emily said... July 8, 2007 at 10:27 AM  

This is a wonderful response to the particular ignorance spewed about by people pretending to be generous (tithing to your family doesn't really count. At least the way I remember tithing from when I was actually going to church). Thank you for that.

My family, of course, is composed entirely of immigrants from other countries. Although some of my ancestors arrived in the country very early (colonial early), my relatives on my father's side were all fairly recent immigrants.

And, like your family, we couldn't really get much information about life in the old countries. My grandfather arrived in the US in the 1930s from Sweden. He fought for the US in WWII. His English was always heavily accented, and I as a kid, I thought it was really cool that we got to call my paternal grandparents Farfar and Farmor (the Swedish words) to differentiate them from my other grandparents.

Thanks again for your great commentary.

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