Applying for Citizenship

Posted: November 16, 2005 by Emma Bull in art

The Tucson Weekly features some of the best coverage of border issues–particularly immigration, legal and not–of any paper around. So I pounced on the October 27, 2005 issue with “Marta’s Story” on the cover. Go read it; it won’t take long.

There’s lots of discussion about who should be allowed into the United States, lots of laws in effect and under consideration about how a foreign national should qualify for work and citizenship. I wish I could figure out a way to write those laws so that people like Maria and Isaac Cruz Olguín and their son Isaiah, Raúl Cruz Uribe, and the unnamed young relative with them, could all become U.S. citizens for the asking.

Because they’re the people I want living down the street from me, the people I want on my local school board, the teachers and cops and nurses and PTA members I want for my community. They’re already citizens of the nation I want the U.S.A. to be.

They belong to the same nation as Julie Gallagher and Dan McClafferty, who put human life first every workday. They’re citizens of the same country as Sister Kathleen Mary McCarthy of St. Mary’s Hospital, who believes that putting human life before money or law is what her god expects of her. Theirs is the country I want to live in.

There are people who respond to Marta’s story by saying, “She shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Why should my tax dollars go to help her? They keep sneaking across because they know we’ll take care of them. If we let more of them die, maybe the rest would get the idea and stay home.” Those are the aliens in my ideal country. Those are the undesireables.

But I would let them stay, too. All I’d ask of them is that they learn the native language of that nation: the language of respect and reverence for other lives.

  1. MKeaton says:

    It is one of the sad ironies of life that a nation of immigrants, made great by the varied strengths of its immigrants, has always been plauged by people who think that “their people” should be the last wave let in. You and I have similar positions on this; if someone want to come to my country and be part of it, not only should I let you in, I have an obligation to help them get here. But I also think that I do have the right to expect them to try to be a part of my country, not just take the best it can offer and contribute nothing. This is a bit of a sore issue right now between my father and I. He lives near a community of true “undesirable” illegals and wants to see more immigration control. (Meanwhile, he continues to assist his Laotion neighbor get his citizenship.) I wonder how many people who get bent out of shape about immigration have come to the view a similar way–reaction to a bad experience. In all of what you said, language may be the most important consideration. There is no more defining characteristic of a culture and a people than its language. I’ll learn theirs to understand who they are and they should learn the language of their new homeland. It truly should be that simple; certianly there are issues of security and terrorism and a dozen other matters than need to be taken into consideration when designing the process. But I see to recall a statue on an island calling for the tired and weak to come on home.


  2. Grey says:

    Yeah, Emma, I’m in your tribe. Maybe even in your clan.

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