Who you calling 'undocumented' anyway? By Tony May
The surprise issue of the 2016 presidential race is the question of illegal immigrants. "America first," says Donald Trump and the crowd roars.
"A nation without borders is not a nation." We (a pronoun not clearly defined) were here first so you can't "come in" unless we give you a permit to do so, the reasoning goes.
Uninvited, undocumented – in other words, "illegal" immigrants are ruining America and are being tagged as a source of everything that's wrong, from crime to disease to the condition of the economy.
Keep them out; drive them out, the reasoning goes, and life in these United States will be almost immediately better.
If you drink the Trump Kool-Aid, you would say it will "make America great again.
The entire conceit is built upon the principle that a person who is "natural born" in the words of the Constitution has superior rights to someone who is "without papers."
And, natural born, in turn, is generally defined as one who was birthed on American soil or born to American citizens while abroad.
Thus far this election year, there seems to be a hierarchy of loathing of immigrants among those who want to purge the nation of those not natural-born. Individuals of Asian descent do not seem to be a target, unless they are Muslim.
War refugees from Syria are particularly feared even though many are not Muslim and as a group they are relatively few in number – and those who have arrived here have been cleared by the U.S. government and are "documented."
Immigrants from Europe and Africa seem not to be a factor currently.
Most of the vitriol seems to be reserved for North Americans and Central Americans who are perceived to have arrived in the continental United States by walking or sneaking across the border between Mexico and the United States without acquiring "green cards" or other evidence of legal permission to reside here.
It's a proprietary expectation built around the generally held belief that this is our land because we were here first.
It's a belief which ignores the reality that the forebears of the "founding fathers" were also undocumented aliens.
The Jamestown settlers didn't arrive with papers stamped and authorized by the Powhatans. The Pilgrims weren't "documented" by the Wampanoags. Ponce de Leon didn't get his visa stamped by the Seminoles.
The United States of America didn't come into existence until 1776, just yesterday in the perspective of the actual history of human life in North America.
The American Southwest didn't come into existence until more than 70 years later – and, then, only through U.S. aggression against Mexico.
Who actually has a more historic claim on being "natural born" in the Southwest?
Is it the descendants of Yankees who roots can be traced back as far as the end of the Mexican American War in 1848 or those whose Hispanic roots can be followed back to the 1500s?
Or is it those whose ancestors were the paleo-Indians whose pueblos can be carbon dated as existing 10,000 years ago?
The point is that the argument today seems to revolve around who is documented and who is not.
It's like debating whether having a driver's permit makes you a competent motorist.
Having a permit doesn't automatically make you a good, contributing member of a community and not have documents doesn't mean that you are not a good neighbor.
The solutions offered to the perceived immigration crisis are as puzzling and confounding as the issue itself.
First, we're supposed to deport an estimated 11 million people believed to be undocumented aliens and then build a 2,000-mile-long wall along the border between Mexico and the United States to prevent them from returning.
How much will it cost? How long will it take?
We're talking about the equivalent of moving the entire population of the state of Ohio to Mexico – and that doesn't take into account that the residents of Ohio all live in one geographic region and the 11 million undocumented aliens are living who knows where because they are, after all, undocumented.
We're talking about the world's largest Where's Waldo ever. The wall project would be as daunting – the equivalent of building the entire length of Interstate 95 from Maine to Florida but set on its side and sunk 20 feet into the ground to discourage tunneling under.
Will it work?
Well, it's hard to imagine that either project will work but if the wall project is ever launched, the smart money will migrate into investing in inflatable boat companies to capitalize on the expected boom in sales.
The Triadvocate is a publication of Triad Strategies, LLC, a bipartisan lobbying, public affairs, strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, issue management consulting firm located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh