Let’s get this out of the way: I am the daughter of immigrants who fled Cuba in 1960. They arrived in this country with the blessing of the U.S. government, which generously offered people like my parents refuge from Castro’s regime. My parents became fluent in English, became citizens as soon as they could and raised their four children on lechon asado (Cuban roast pork) and the Pledge of Allegiance.
It is a travesty that the government does not give more people the opportunities presented to my parents, and through them, to me. Instead, many people desperate for work or for freedom or both take the law into their own hands and enter the country illegally. I understand the feelings of the tens of thousands of people who marched on the National Mall yesterday in pursuit of immigration reform and, in particular, paths to citizenship for millions of undocumented workers. I understand their desire to live without fear of arrest, to simply do an honest day’s work and to see their children thrive. I understand that our immigration system is haplessly dysfunctional and that major reforms are needed.
What I don’t understand is the claim by some at the march that those here illegally are somehow victims.
Did they not choose to come to this country, and did they not know that they either entered illegally or illegally overstayed visas? Of course they did. Do they not appreciate that one of the things that makes this country great is the rule of law — unlike, sadly, some of the countries we leave behind? If so, undocumented immigrants must take responsibility for their plight. Finally, I found it offensive that some people in yesterday’s march waved the flags of Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador while demanding rights and privileges from this country. The flags and the demands for action “NOW!” suggested a sort of arrogance and entitlement when humility would have been more in order. Perhaps these marchers meant the flags as symbols of cultural or ethnic identity and not as political banners of foreign sovereigns. Perhaps they meant absolutely no offense and are at once proud of their heritage and sincere in their desire to become Americans. I trust that they did.