Subjective Feeling of Citizenship
Natalia J. Garland
Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, gave a statement to the U.S.
Senate on June 4, 2007. In this instantly controversial statement,
he referred to illegal immigrants as "undocumented
This week, we will vote on cloture and final passage of a
comprehensive bill that will strengthen border security, bring the
12 million undocumented Americans out of the shadows, and keep our
economy strong. In the days ahead, we will work to improve the
bill to protect and strengthen family ties while improving the
structure of the temporary-worker program.
[End of quote.]
There seems to be
a progression of subjectivity in how certain political leaders
view illegal immigrants. Subjectivity involves one's personal
perception or feeling about something regardless of the external
reality or any external verification. This is the standard
dictionary definition of subjectivity and it will suffice for
today's discussion. Now, let's trace the development of
subjectivity in how advocates of the amnesty and/or citizenship
movement have influenced the terminology used to describe illegal
- Illegal alien
- Illegal immigrant
- Undocumented immigrant
- Undocumented worker
- Undocumented American
It is immediately
apparent that the term "undocumented Americans" is an
oxymoron. There is no such classification of persons. To be
American means to be an American citizen. Citizenship can be
proven by a birth certificate or naturalization papers. These
items provide documentation, or an external verification, of
being American. If you do not have either of these documents,
then you are not an American. "Undocumented Americans"
are people without American birth certificates or naturalization
papers and, therefore, they cannot be referred to as Americans.
In fact, they are legal citizens of other countries.
It is also
immediately apparent that if "undocumented Americans"
are indeed Americans, then they do not need documentation. In
other words, Senator Reid is talking about two kinds of Americans:
documented and undocumented. Some illegal immigrant advocates
would argue that the above reasoning amounts to playing word
games. However, those same advocates would never tolerate the
use of the term "illegal aliens." If words or terms do
not matter, if it is only a word game, then "undocumented
Americans" should be interchangeable with "illegal
aliens." But words do matter, and that is why the term
"undocumented Americans" must be revealed as illogical,
inaccurate, and misleading.
Why would illegal
immigrants, who are citizens of other countries, regard themselves
as "undocumented Americans?" Subjectively, some of them
probably feel like Americans because they live and work here,
often under sanctuary conditions. Their subjective feeling of
being American is actually reinforced by another external
reality, that of having lived and worked in America for perhaps
many years. Certainly, as a force, illegal immigration has been
going on for many years. In addition, the external verification
of U.S. immigration laws has not been enforced or reinforced.
Why would advocates
regard illegal immigrants as "undocumented Americans?"
There seems to be an assumption of eventual amnesty and/or
citizenship for the illegal immigrant population. It is unlikely
that the term "undocumented Americans" was a Freudian
slip. It is more likely an attempt to present the illegal
immigrant population in a manner that makes citizenship seem
logical, natural, and inevitable. In other words, illegal
immigrants are just like us--Americans.
Let's trace the
development of subjectivity and assumption in how illegal
immigrants and their advocates came to regard the illegal
immigrant population as "undocumented Americans."
- External verification: immigration laws were poorly
- External reality: living and working in America for many
- Subjective perception: undocumented Americans.
- Political assumption: the external verification of
What does this say
to people who are trying to come to America legally? Or to
people in other countries who would come here illegally? Is
Reid being fair to a Chinese man who wants to come to America
illegally, but cannot because China is not connected to America by
land like Mexico? What does this say to our Border Patrol agents
who sometimes risk their lives to prevent illegal immigration or
the trafficking of drugs and contraband? Can anybody cross the
border illegally and, whether they crossed 15 years ago or last
night, be regarded as an "undocumented American?" What
if a man in China subjectively felt like an American? Would Reid
be obligated to regard this man as an "undocumented
American," and therefore advocate for the Chinese man's
American citizenship and put him on an airplane to America? It
really gets absurd.
assumption are not the way to run a government. What about the
external reality of the American citizenry, including
Hispanic American citizens? Do our elected officials think we
cannot understand the law? Or the meanings and connotations of
words and terms? We also understand that some politicians are
looking for the external verification of the vote. Of course,
they assume that the vote will be for them and not against
them--perhaps an accurate prediction or perhaps a foolish error.
It is not prudent to stereotype people.
politicians have calculated correctly, then there is a cyclic
sequence of attitudes and actions which have developed. Let's
try to trace the possible outcome.
- Subjective perception: racial and cultural preference for one
group (predominately Mexican) over all other groups (Haitian,
Korean, Nigerian, etc.).
- Subjective perception: political preference for illegal
immigrants over legal immigrants.
- External reality: changing the laws to reflect the subjective
- External verification: citizenship and the right to vote.
- Subjective perception: entitlement to more and more
Living and working
according to subjectivity could lead to a situation of extreme
multiculturalism and anarchy, supported and camouflaged by the
changing of laws to fit whichever special interest group or
business corporation happens to be the most influential. Local,
state, and federal levels of government could be drastically
altered by lawsuits and by church sanctuary policies. This, in
fact, is already happening at local levels in some American
towns and cities. Immigration attorneys, judges, and church
leaders seem often to be in the center of the immigration
attempt to trace the worst scenario and, actually, the ultimate
logical conclusion of a subjective mode of government. We started
with Reid's statement on "undocumented Americans" as an
aberration of the legal classification of "illegal
alien." If this mode is progressive, as it indeed seems to
be, then the following is not an impossible development.
- Subjective perception: you are an American if you can cross
- Subjective perception: you are an American if you perceive
yourself as American.
- Subjective perception: all are Americans.
- External reality: open borders from Canada to the southern tip
- External reality: breakdown of sovereignty.
- External verification: no longer required; everything is now
are a few political leaders in Washington D.C. who are bravely
fighting the downward spiral of subjectivity. They are defenders
of reason, objectivity, and true compassion. We need to
encourage them and let them know how much we appreciate them. In
other words, we must assert the external reality of the American
people who cherish this nation's sovereignty, freedom, equality,
and the application of humanitarian values without jeopardizing
the very system which makes it possible.
(Written 06/14/07: bibliography available.)
Until we meet