Today's Topic



Subjective Feeling of Citizenship

Natalia J. Garland

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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 Americans."

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 immigration.

  • 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 enforced.
  • External reality: living and working in America for many years.
  • Subjective perception: undocumented Americans.
  • Political assumption: the external verification of citizenship.

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.

Subjectivity and 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.

If certain 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 preferences.
  • External verification: citizenship and the right to vote.
  • Subjective perception: entitlement to more and more preferential treatment.

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 political movement.

Finally, let's 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 the border.
  • 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 of Chile.
  • External reality: breakdown of sovereignty.
  • External verification: no longer required; everything is now subjective.

Fortunately, there 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 again..............stay sane.

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Copyright 2007 Natalia J. Garland