Obama’s aunt is here ILLEGALLY living in poverty, and is a deportation FUGITIVE. She’s collecting WELFARE and has DONATED to Obama’s campaign, ILLEGALLY! Obama. Family in poverty as he makes millions. Complete lawlessness. Giveaway your hard earned tax payer money to illegal fugitives. CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN.Ace of Spades – Commenter (1 November 2008)
Is it even possible for nativists to make an argument without using ALL CAPS? Nativists want you believe that Onyango’s immigration status makes her a criminal. Not true.
The Associated Press explains:
Onyango’s refusal to leave the country would represent an administrative, non-criminal violation of U.S. immigration law, meaning such cases are handled outside the criminal court system. Estimates vary, but many experts believe there are more than 10 million such immigrants in the United States.Associated Press – Eileen Sullivan and Elliot Spagat (1 November 2008)
Like at least 40% of unauthorized migrants in the U.S., Onyango is in violation of civil law, not criminal law, with regards to to her immigration status. Nativists yell the words, “ILLEGAL”, and “AMNESTY”, until they’re blue in the face to try and make you believe that all unauthorized migrants are criminals The truth is that most unauthorized migrants are guilty of violating the same type of law that speeding is classified under. I don’t see nativists using the words “ILLEGAL DRIVER” to describe everyone on the freeway that speeds.
There are additional legal complications in Onyango’s case. Nativists are jumping all over the fact that she’s living in public housing, and that she has allegedly donated money to the Obama campaign. I’m not an immigration lawyer, and cannot comment on the additional complications of Onyango’s legal situation. The U.S. immigration system is broken and complicated. The only thing anyone who is not a U.S. immigration lawyer can truly know about U.S. immigration law, is that they don’t know anything at all.
I know a lot of nativists are going to be enraged at the Onyango’s alleged violations, but I’m going to ask everyone to take a step back from all of this. What if “ILLEGAL ALIEN”, “WELFARE”, and “ILLEGAL CAMPAIGN DONATIONS”, weren’t the first things you heard about Onyango? Imagine instead, that you had read this profile of Onyango in the Boston Globe:
Onyango… is paid a small stipend for working as a health advocate in her housing complex.
For three years, she was a volunteer with Experience Corps, a nonprofit that trains adults over 55 to work with children in public schools, said Mary Gunn, the group’s executive director.
In a profile on the Experience Corps website, Onyango is described as a “former computer systems coordinator” who says she wanted to volunteer in the schools because “I felt that I should help the children in my community.”
“I love people and enjoy interacting with them,” Onyango said. “Also, I was idle, and this was a chance to get involved.”
Gunn said Onyango is a wonderful person, but said, “Zeituni wishes for me not to comment, and I want to honor her wish.”Michael Levenson – Boston Globe (31 October 2008)
Read that passage carefully. Now, I can’t personally vouch for Onyango. I know far too little about her. From what little information there is though, it seems to me Onyango is an amazing person. She’s not a wealthy person, but still she dedicates her time to helping her community.
In a country that refuses to recognize her as a real person, she has still chosen an occupation where she assists her community. To reiterate, she has dedicated years to bettering a community in which nativists don’t even believe she has a right to exist If you think about it, from what little information we have, everything that nativists have pointed to that is bad about Onyango stems from the fact that she had the misfortune of being born into a different country, and had the audicity to seek a better life for herself in the U.S. Nativists will call Onyango an “ILLEGAL ALIEN” but I thought the principles the U.S. was founded on state that the “pursuit of happiness” is an “inALIENable right.”
Nativists will use this association to smear Obama’s character, to make him “an other.” As is typical, nativists hope to divide the U.S. rather than bring it together. The fact that Obama’s aunt is an unauthorized migrant doesn’t make him “an other.” It makes him one of the millions of U.S. citizens, and legal U.S. residents, with a family member that has been affected by an atrocious U.S. immigration system.
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, there are 3.1 million U.S. citizen children with unauthorized migrant parents. That doesn’t even count the many millions more that have aunts, brothers, and cousins, who nativists like to label “illegal.” The fact of the matter is that the U.S. is a country where families sit united around the table and are divided by their immigration status: A child who is a U.S. citizen, a father who is a legal migrant, a mother who is unauthorized, is just one of the many typical arrangements that so many U.S. residents find themselves in.
The U.S. Latin@ community understands this and that’s why they’re voting overwhelmingly in favor of Obama. Not since slavery has it been legal and acceptable in the U.S. to give completely different sets of rights to different sets of people in the U.S. The pro-migrant side has been losing the U.S. migration debate because for the longest time advocates assumed this was a rational policy debate.
The U.S. migration debate is not a debate about policy. It’s a culture war. It’s a debate about what fundamental question of what it means to be an “American.” Nativists have usually have a racist definition of the word “American.” It’s up to the good people to stand up and say that the U.S. is a tolerant nation, and that we won’t stand for the hate that seeks to dehumanize the millions of unauthorized migrants in the U.S. whose only sin is to seek a better life for themselves and their children.