brknimmgtn-sysOn Wednesday I published a guest blog from Barbara Carrasco where she opined about immigration and the difference between legal and illegal immigrants. I hate using the word “illegal” but she used it and it is her right to do so. I promised you that I would have a rebuttal to her guest post today. Immigration, as many of you know, is a very complex issue that cannot be addressed by focusing on one specific item. However, the underlining fact to all sides of the debate is the process of immigration. I believe we can all agree that the process is the fundamental element to the discussion about immigration, except for those that want to shut off immigration completely.

Barbara Carrasco shared with us her point of view between the differences between those who follow the process and those that do not. If we strip away everything but the notion of process, I am sure we can all agree on many aspects of her point of view. In essence, I believe that Carrasco is arguing that immigrants should respect the United States and if need be, to come to her defense. I for one agree on that. However, where I believe that the majority of the discussions diverge away from is in the process.

I will accept that if someone wants to immigrate to the United States, and to any other country for that matter, that they should follow an established process to complete the move to a new country. Even if that involves fees and background checks. I also have no problem with excluding those that have criminal backgrounds or ill-intent towards the United States. I also have no problem with limiting or excluding immigrants from the benefits that the United States offers its citizens. I disagree that limits on access to some benefits are necessary for many reasons that are beyond my post’s focus today. However, I’ll leave that issue for a future post. For now, let me accept that limiting access to benefits for new immigrants is something I am willing to accept.

As a reminder, I am an immigrant and I went through the immigration process for many years. As a matter of fact, I still have to complete certain steps on a regular basis, so I am still navigating the process, if you will. I am also a proud citizen of Mexico but live in the United States. To many of you that doesn’t make sense. How can I live, legally, in the United States and yet retain my Mexican citizenship? To add more to your confusion, I am also a legal holder of a conceal carry permit allowing me to legally carry a concealed weapon on my person. To some of you that doesn’t make sense. As if that is not enough to cause you pause, I have been legally able to become a US citizen for some years now, yet I have chosen not to.

No, it has nothing to do with obligations such as taxes or defending the country against foreign aggressors. I pay taxes just like all US citizens. I will also raise arms to defend the United States against foreign aggressors by the mere fact that I have chosen to make a home in the United States and I have a family that I love very much who are living in the country. Yet, I have chosen to not become a US citizen.

That decision means that I have the same obligations as all of you US citizens except for the right to vote and putting myself in a position that I can be kicked out of the country for criminal acts. I have made this decision for the simple fact that I do not want to renounce my Mexican citizenship.

For those that will argue that I have not assimilated into the US culture and system I will point you to my business success, my language and my blogging about US politics. I speak the language, I dress the part and eat the food. Yet, I do not want to renounce my Mexican citizenship. Why?

The answer is rather simple, I respect my country, including its many faults and its wonderful successes. I respect my roots and those of my ancestors. Most importantly, I can hold dear my country of birth and yet contribute to the country I have chosen to live in. Neither are in contradiction with the other.

This brings us squarely to dual citizenship. Mexico, officially recognizes dual citizenship. But, and this is important, the United States does not officially recognize dual citizenship. But, what about the many US citizens that claim dual citizenship, both US citizenship and another country’s citizenship?

United States law does not directly address dual nationality nor does it require someone to choose one citizenship over another. However, the US State Department has taken the official position that “the U.S. Government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it as a matter of policy because of problems it may cause.”

On one hand, US law does not specifically require a US citizen to choose one allegiance over another but it does not encourage it either. So what does that have to do with me?

As an immigrant I have to take an oath to become a US citizen.

The oath starts out; “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen”. There are three exceptions to the requirement to taking the oath. Two are about the use of “God” and the other is about exceptions to bearing arms for the United States. There is no exception to the oath about renouncing my citizenship.

In other words, if I take the oath I am renouncing my Mexican citizenship.

I have been told on a number of occasion, it’s just words, no one is telling you to return your Mexican passport. I have also been told numerous times that there are dual nationals who hold both US and Mexican citizenship.

As I wrote previously, I am fully cognizant that they are just words but what does it say about me “following the law” when I choose to pretend that an oath is “just words”?

That is the fundamental reality to the immigration problem that no one wants to address. It is a broken system that discourages following the process and highly encourages pretending it is “just words”. The truth is that the immigration system of the United States is so broken that it is near impossible to follow the process. Almost everyone, if not everyone, is forced to game the process for a favorable outcome.

Donald Trump’s wife bypassed the process by simply marrying Donald Trump, who conveyed his US citizenship to her. To those that argue that the process allows US citizenship through marriage, I then ask you, should all immigrants consider getting married for a green card? Donald Trump’s grandfather lost his Germany citizenship because he immigrated to the United States in order to avoid German military service. Let that sink in for a moment because that is a poignant example of immigrating for the wrong reasons and a clear example of losing the citizenship of his birth country. Trump’s grandfather broke the law. That is the hypocrisy within Trump. Even Ted Cruz’ father gamed the system, not once but twice by first entering the US as a refugee, then abandoning the country before completing the process and becoming a Canadian citizen. It wasn’t until recently that the elder Cruz became a citizen of the United States, many years after Ted Cruz had been born. Ted Cruz, himself wasn’t born in the United States. He acquired citizenship through his mother’s citizenship. Cruz and Trump exemplify the sad fact that the immigration debate is political sensationalism because no politician wants to truly address the fundamental problem – the process.

Lawyers will tell you, leave this blank, don’t write that or get someone to write a letter stating something, whether true or not, just to get through the process. That is the undeniable fact.

I went through a twelve-year process that I started and abandoned several times, even though I was frequently in the United States. I am still navigating the system today, although I am legally in the United States.

I speak the language and I am sure I can pass the history test with a better passing grade than most US citizens, yet I still choose to not become a US citizen because of a few words that most everyone ignores.

I realize that some of you would rather focus on arguing about controlling the border first and then fixing the broken system. I do not believe that is neither fair nor appropriate because many individuals are currently in the midst of a decades-old process that they have invested many tears, years and money into and others have given up in despair but are still in the US.

Some of you will not agree with me about the fairness of deporting thousands caught up in a broken system. However, the fact remains that the system is broken and it needs to be fixed.

I choose that it be fixed first and then hold individuals accountable. To me that is the fairest thing to do. I know, I have first-hand knowledge of the process and I am one of the luckiest ones because I have not had to sacrifice my dignity nor my life to get to the point that I am at today.

This is true for any immigrant and it is why I get so angry at other immigrants for denouncing their brethren just because they happened to achieve what the others are trying to as well. Any immigrant that has traversed the immigration process since 1875 has had to navigate a system that was designed to encourage finding ways around it. This is because the Page Act of 1875 is the first time the United States started to segregate immigrants based on ethnicity. The Page Act was created to discourage Asian immigration. In 1924, the Johnson Act imposed numerical limits on immigration and it established a quota system based on nationality. That was followed by the National Origins Formula, also in 1924 that imposed official quota systems on certain countries.

However, the problem is not the laws, although many of us disagree with them. The actual problem is the “it’s just words” mentality that makes it impossible to properly navigate the process. How is it fair to hold someone accountable to a system that, itself, is so broken that it encourages ignoring it because, it “is just words.” In other words, it rewards undocumented status over the documented status. That is true for all of the immigration laws that have followed since.

Thus, it is the process that encourages immigration via loopholes or through other means rather than through the established legal framework. Because of this, it is my experience and my belief that a serious discussion and solution to the immigration process involves accepting that the system is broken, that it encourages bypassing it and that a solution to those caught in the web of the broken system today be afforded a fair and equitable solution before demanding that they follow the process.

For me, that is the only solution to the problem of immigration today.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

12 replies on “The Immigration Debate and Following the Law Argument”

  1. Martin, the law is the law regardless of the host or country of orgin. The system is broken because people on both sides of the border pick and choose what laws will be respected.

    Can’t fix the system until the uninvited people are stopped. We see it in Europe, open borders now have fences. The system was overwhelmed and broke. The vast majority of nations require a passport and a visa(permission) to cross their borders. It’s a system designed to control the flow and know who’s in their country.

    What irks many citizens is that the laws of the U.S. are ignored and on arrival protested. I sneak into your home and then protest your rules? The economy is in bad condition, unable to help or sustain its citizens/residents. Now uninvited guests arrive and are immediately recieptients of social programs. These programs aren’t free and taxes are high. The criticism of the recieptients is not limited to uninvited guests, it’s also directed at citizens.

    The solutions Martin and others offer become the old argument of which comes first, chicken or the egg. That’s where the discussion gets stuck. However, there has to be a serious and very frank discussion about the issue. One solution for other countries start caring for their citizens and that would go a long way in reducing immigration. Keep in mind there will be always someone that wants live elsewhere.

  2. When a foreign national marries a US citizen, citizenship is not automatically conveyed. That individual has to go through a process as well. My father’s second wife was Korean. It took over 10 years for her to complete the process, in part because they moved to Florida after Dad’s tour in Korea right before the Mariel boat lift. The Cuban refugees and Castro’s prison inmate group were given priority over her application process. Legitimate marriages aren’t gaming the system. I agree the system needs to be fixed, but we first need to address the issue of illegal aliens who have gamed the system. Softening the terms doesn’t change the issue. These folks feel they have the right to pick and choose what laws they obey and until we crackdown more and more will test the system. Obama’s attempt at extending amnesty has encouraged even more to break our laws even though they wouldn’t be eligible. I admire your willingness to not treat our oath of citizenship as just words, particularly since Mexico is encouraging its citizens to finish the US citizenship process, recross into Mexico using their Mexican passport and re-establish their Mexican citizenship as dual nationals. The reason so many of us are frustrated by folks that lecture us as xenophobic is that we are being asked to agree to things no other country in the world agrees to (including Mexico).

  3. We should reinstate national quotas to avoid immigrants whose origins indicate they might do us harm, like muslims. Also, we could identify the skills and education we need to further filter immigration in our national favor.

    1. And, Jerry, it is worth noting that most other developed countries are regulating the influx of unskilled immigrants to minimize the burden they place on social systems. Many have asset/net worth requirements for immigrants. Those with “free healthcare” also deny immigration applications of those with chronic health issues, again for the protection of their citizens since overburdening their healthcare system with immigrants with health issues would impact quality of care and raise taxes.

      1. Anglo;

        Unfortunately, acting in your own national interest is now vilified as being oppressive and racist and unwelcoming to people who have vowed to kill us. There is no accounting for the insanity of cultural marxism that infects the thinking of the Obamian Left.

        In Europe muslim immigration is national suicide and is provoking a resurgence in ethnic pride because if you are French or German or Swede, you are that in your person; it is your identity. What I love about America is that we are Americans first, in spite of the racist rhetoric of the La Raza faction or theocratic idiocy of muslims and the christian right. Anyone who comes here and embraces that will do well, like most Cubans and Mexicans have done.

        Of course, on university campuses now, to assert Americanism is considered a micro-aggression because it denigrates those whose identify as victims, like that gal who ran for Dist 2. Really, there are only three places left in the world where marxism has any credibility: North Korea; China; and American university campuses.

  4. Martin
    The system is broken but our elected officials in the U.S. want to keep it that way no matter what they say in the media sound bites. Nope can’t tell one group that goes by the process and waits their turn, for some a couple of decades, to come to the U.S. and allow those that do not follow the laws and process it’s OK. No right and no reasoned way to justify it. Yep the word illegal fits those who cheat the system process.
    In no way Martin are we saying the system doesn’t needs major fixing but it is not going to happen not matter who gets elected. Money is being made off the illegal populations on both sides of the border and and Martin the power of greed isn’t going to allow change. Yep when all the bull shit is scraped away it’s all about the Benjamins, who are getting the benefits. Not saying it’s right but it the truth.

  5. There is a very human side of this issue that transcends politics and that is the plight of those now arriving here, e.g. the Cubans in El Paso. They are being housed and processed at the Houchens Community Center on Tays in Segundo Barrio that is making the best of a difficult siutation.

    There is a desperate need for personal care goods as the Cubans have arrived here with little more than the clothes on their backs. Especially tampons, soap, shampoo, razors, toothpaste and toothbrushes, towels, paper plates and utensils, and clothing. If you can put together a care package and drop it off there you will have done your good deed for the week. I did and it feels great😊

  6. I did it backwards. I am a US citizen who later got Mexican citizenship. I had to declare nothing.

  7. They’ve arrived just in time to use any bathroom they want, too. I’ll bet they can’t get away with that in Cuba.

  8. Martin made my point about those coming legally verses those coming illegally. If one makes a deliberate, conscious decision to come and assimilate, they follow the law despite the process being long and arduous. Those entering legally have no desire to live in the shadows but rather choose to live open and free with the Ability to prosper and make a better living for themselves and their family. Martin did not come to “take” but to “give” back to a country that has afforded him the opportunity to establish a small company, prosper and take pride in being here legally. He’s successful and is prospering in the U.S.A. He’s one of the million who come to the U.S.A. every year legally. That the process is broken isn’t an excuse to break the law! Trump has put this issue up front and in our face. Now we can deal with it or continue to complain. I don’t hear the Dems wanting to do anything serious on this issue except preach the status quo.

  9. Barbara
    Sorry to bust your delusional bubble but the Republicans will not do any thing either they support and like the cheap some times near slave labor and the undermine of wages of the America worker. Trump will do a little window dress and that is it and nothing will change. Barbara others and you forget or never got it power resides in Congress and if the Congress does not pass the legations nothing gets done and the president is left sitting pretty much on their thumbs. Willing to put money on that we will be talking about the same issue next Presidential election cycle. Also how ignorant are you to try and claim that the the immigration process isn’t broken. Barbara from nearly all corners of the political spectrum admit immigration process is broken the disagreement is centers around how to fix it.

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