During the Miss Universe Pageant in Mexico City, the USA representative was booed. She was the only contestant to get this treatment in this international beauty competition. However, the boos were not heard only in Mexico; they were also heard in the US Senate where Senate Bill 1348 (325 pages) is being discussed. What has angered the people on the right and on the left is some of the partnering that has taken place. Some people do not remember such partnering before – the Democratic liberals Ted Kennedy and Diane Feinstein with the Republican conservatives John Kyl and John Kornyn.
As a person who came to this country in my late teens after staying in a refugee camp for 18 months, I watch these debates with great interest. John Kyl raised a question that made me think. He asked how many of the people who support returning the existing illegal immigrants would be willing to do it. Do they have a plan? Would they like to take a family that has been here for 5 or 10 years and personally deport them?
When you raise the deportation question many people remember the small Cuban boy, Elian Gonzalez who became an international figure when the General Attorney Reno deported him during the Clinton administration. The country was divided over this issue and so was the Cuban community in Florida.
This debate made me think about my 18 months in the refugee camp. In the refugee camp, the first month was the probationary month. The refugee camp at Trieste (Italy) was the test camp. If you had a valid religious or political reason, the administration would let you stay. I have heard some authentic political and religious stories. I have also heard some wildly flowered political and religious stories. However, I did not live through what my mother called "the dread of the night."
I am a sound sleeper and when I fall asleep that is it. (Later on in Detroit, one night a neighbor's garage burned down. The firemen came and put the fire down and I slept through the whole commotion. I really believe the prayer, "now I lay me down to sleep, I pray to the good Lord my soul to keep"). However, it was during the night time that people whose stories were not accepted as sufficient for immigration would be deported. What my mother called "the dread of the night" were the cries of mothers, fathers and children who were woken up in the middle of the night and told to pack for they would be returned to their own countries.
The 16th century Reformer Martin Luther wrote that one's conviction is tested by the willingness to act upon it. I have a great respect for the laws of this country that gave me citizenship in 1976. I have a BA in History with a concentration in American History. I love this country and I participate in all the possible patriotic events. Yet, I must confess that I am torn because I cannot see myself loading a van of illegal immigrants across the borders from where they came.