For some, citizenship must be won

February 28, 2007 

You did absolutely nothing to deserve your designation as a U.S. citizen. Nothing.

So pipe down with the rhetoric. Please.

You weren't forced to memorize the Constitution. You don't have to know how many presidents have served and when. You don't even have to drag yourself out of bed on election day.

You can kill 10 people tomorrow, another three Sunday and never make a single positive contribution to society and still be considered a U.S. citizen.

Why? Because your parents had sex and you were born, as Bruce Springsteen would say, in the U.S.A.

Illegal immigration isn't akin to someone breaking into your house, though many critics are using that faulty logic. You saved money, made wise financial decisions and educated yourself to buy a house.

You did nothing more than breathe to earn the right to be called a U.S. citizen. There's no comparison.

You would think such a realization would be enough to keep people humble when discussing the problems concerning illegal immigration. But it hasn't.

The arrogance is thickening. It was taken to another level last week when Horry County Auditor Lois Eargle said she told a non-English speaking woman to "go back to Mexico" when the woman asked Eargle for help because one of her children had been abused. Eargle later said she was taken out of context, though her speech was recorded.

Eargle told me she'd never turn away a child in need.

But that's probably not true, because that's precisely what many of her constituents want her to do. I imagine she's gotten more phone calls of congratulations than condemnation since taking her hard-line stance.

Eargle and those of like-mind complain that illegal immigrants are straining our health care system. Why would she help a woman who is here illegally?

A respect for our common humanity would suggest that helping in such a case would be the moral thing to do. But respect for humanity and morality have little to do with this discussion.

Too many of us have forgotten that this country was founded by so-called criminals, men and women who dared to ignore unjust rules and regulations.

Too many of us have forgotten that this country was made better by so-called criminals during the Civil Rights Movement.

We have an illegal immigration problem. Yes.

But it worries me more that so many of us have grown callous and cold.

ONLINE | For past columns and to read Bailey's blog, go to MyrtleBeachOnline.com.

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