From "Illegal Alien" To Curing Brain Cancer

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I'm not usually a fan of the multiple public relations pitches that come through the contact us page on Citizen Orange.  Yet, I have to admit that when someone from Big Think wrote me about the story of Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, I was hooked and had to share the story.  I'll embed the Big Think video that tells his story here, but below the fold I'll expound upon it.

While the Big Think video is great, I have to admit that the report by NPR's All Things Considered on Quinones-Hinojosa is what won me over.  Read it and listen to it, if you can.  The best part is when All Things Considered asks Hinojosa what his feelings on the U.S. migration debate:

All Things Considered : As we listen to your story, I'm sure our listeners are thinking in their minds about the debate over immigration in the United States right now.  I wonder, as you look back on your journey, do you feel justified in your decision to come into this country illegally?

(long pause)

Quinones-Hinojosa: I don't think there's a justification to be honest with you.  The best way, and I have thought about it very much, all I can tell you that everytime I think about this, when I first came I wasn't thinking that I was breaking the law by coming to this country.  All I wanted to do is have enough money to eat. Period.  That's all I had in my mind.  Is that how can I make money, so I can at least put food on the table of my parents, my siblings, and my future children. 

So now, suddenly, now that I am here as a brain surgeon, I get to think about it, and I realize that I did, you know, I did break the law.  I came illegally and I was very lucky that I was given a break by this wonderful country.  And I owe it so much.  And I am dedicated, and it is my journey, and my responsibility to make it even a better place for all of us to live.  So that's all I can say.  I can only speak from my own experience to be honest with you.
All Things Considered - NPR (6 May 2007)

First, just look at the phrasing in the question above.  Asking Quinones-Hinojosa if he feels "justified" coming to the U.S. is like asking someone if they feel justified in living.  But, Quinones-Hinojosa answers the question admirably, and ends on a note that should make nativists melt. 

Quinones-Hinojosa was given a second chance in the United States, like so many others should be.  Now, despite getting treated as "less than human" as he describes it, despite living in a country where many probably feel he should be deported, he works to make it a better place and the world a better place. 

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1 Comments

John said:

I read the story and I'm sure he's sincere but just because he's a brain surgeon he seems to get a pass. Some drug dealing criminal who is also here illegally or some janitor could also make the same claim. Didn't the US also give them a chance at a better life? They received the chance to make more money dealing drugs and the opportunity to make more money by taking a job from an American.

The good doctor broke the law by illegally immigrating. That makes what he does and what he knows forbidden knowledge. In WW2 Nazi doctors gained valuable information about human physiology through horrible experimentation on concentration camp inmates. Because they were criminals against humanity, we view that knowledge gained as forbidden. Isn't the knowledge gained by the opportunity one avails themselves by lawbreaking also forbidden? I say deport the doctor.

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on July 25, 2008 5:33 AM.

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