Guest Post: Illegal is illegal, the law is the law, and ice cream is ice cream
We welcome back guest poster Mark as he deconstructs some of the nativists' cherished arguments against the DREAM Act. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has filed for cloture on the DREAM Act and the Senate will vote on it tomorrow.
"Illegal is illegal, and the "the law is the law" are two of the more common phrases that the anti-immigrant crowd likes to spew as the say-all/end-all reasoning, when it comes to a conversation about reforming the broken immigration system. Just look at any online article concerning the issue of immigration, scroll to the bottom, read the comments page, and sure enough there it is! (most of the times in ALL CAPS with a gazillion exclamation points, just to add that extra emphasis in pretending their argument is practical). Of course the only problem is that it isn't much of an argument at all. At best, it's a blatant fallacy in reasoning. Anyone having taken a basic logic class should be able to understand that concept.
So even when it's dressed up a bit:
"If such actions were not illegal, then they would not be prohibited by the law."
...only equals out to:
"X is true. The evidence for that claim is that X is true."
It's an unsound argument at best, which is most certainly NOT rationally persuasive.
Of course irrationality seems to be the rage these days, as it seems rational thought is something that's hard to come by. I can just imagine what else these rationality-inept anti-immigrant comment posters must say or post elsewhere. "Ice cream is ice cream. Yes I said it: ICE CREAM is ICE CREAM, damn it!!!!!!!!!!! Therefore I'm right and I win the argument."
Seriously now, really...that's what their position is based on? Two i-words: illogicality and ignorance.
I guess if there's one thing I can thank these anti-immigrant posters for, it would have to be for their incompetence when posting "illegal is illegal." Because rather than reminding me of my undocumented status, reading that phrase always seems to remind me that I still have one pint of Ben and Jerry's Stephen Colbert's AmeriCone Dream Ice Cream left in the freezer that I keep forgetting to enjoy. Speaking of which...
Nom nom nom.
...So where was I? Ah yes, this nation is a nation of laws, and as such, the law shall always be enforced because the law is the law without question, and illegal is illegal and ice cream is delicious and so and so on. Hmm, sounds like more begging the question fallacy, if you ask me. If there's one thing I learned through my K-12 and college education, is that this nation has progressed through some dark times by readjusting to unjust laws that were once tolerated or even upheld by the status quo. And bit by bit, throughout the history of this nation, plenty of laws have been proven to be unjust and wrong, at times drawn out for a decade long battle as is the case with the DREAM Act. As Martin Luther King, Jr. had stated, "An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law." This is why I admire the DREAMers and allies who've put their own lives on the line, by taking part in the courageous actions we've seen, to promote the just cause of our movement. Whether it's by acts of civil disobedience or participating in hunger strikes, they are nothing less than inspiring.
As I've mentioned already, with my all-American education, I've managed to interpret that just because something is law, doesn't make that law to be so just and absolute. I've learned that it was once the status quo to allow indentured servitude. It was once acceptable to steal the land of the only true natives of this continent and at the same time commit genocide against them in plain sight. It was once okay to prohibit women from casting a vote. It was once legal to segregate schools by race. It was once illegal everywhere to allow marriage between same sex partners (something that we continue to work on today throughout this country). And just the same, the ice-cream-is-ice-cream-crowd once tried to keep undocumented students from gaining access to primary and secondary education (See SCOTUS ruling of 1982 Plyer V. Doe). To argue that the law is the law and that all laws are always absolute and just is to ignore the unjust laws of yesteryear. Pulling out my Star Wars reference... "only a Sith deals in absolutes."
Even today our country is fighting for equality on all levels. We the people, continue to strive for the right to enjoy our lives, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, no matter ones race, religion, creed, color or sexual orientation. As evidence of that happening now, 17 years ago it was decided that serving in the military disallowed you from openly stating one's own sexual preference. No longer is that perceived by the status quo, in both the American public and as well as the perception from our own U.S. troops. I among many others, hope to see that the law follows the beliefs of the status quo. The one thing I love about this country is that even though we've had our flaws throughout our history, it's our ability to progress past those problems that has made this country a leading example elsewhere. I'm hoping the same can be the case with the cause that we DREAMers are currently fighting for.
As the Sith would have it, their absolutist argument is that any immigration reform they come across can be categorized as either amnesty (dressed in all caps once again in the comments page) or enforcement by deportation of all undocumented immigrants. They refuse to see the shades of grey and a middle ground. They refuse to see the DREAM Act as something practical and beneficial to the United States due to their fear and hatred of hardworking individuals who happen to be born outside of the United States. They'll continue to blatantly lie by categorizing the DREAM Act as amnesty. But might I remind the Sith that the definition of amnesty is forgiveness of a crime. Yet, no crime has been committed by me or my fellow Jedi DREAMers. They discount the fact that those benefiting from the legislation are children of immigrants that were brought here at a young age, without their say. Really, if I'm guilty of committing a "crime", then it would have to register as me forgetting to renew my visa at the age of six years old. Turns out I was a bit preoccupied that day watching Sesame Street, Bugs Bunny, and the rest of my Saturday morning cartoon lineup.
And on to their next predictable reply, "So now that you're adults, act like one by getting back in line." (Real translation: We don't take kindly to your kind around here, rabble rabble rabble!!!) Of course they fail to take note that the purpose of the DREAM Act is to allow us a viable means to adjust our undocumented status. Because the only other option would be going back to our origin of country (which to most of us, is as foreign to us as any other country we've never visited) and be barred from returning to the U.S. for most cases, 10 years. And even then, after those 10 years of being barred from re-entering the U.S., we'd have a very bleak chance of returning due to the undocumented stay we accrued, that we didn't fully understand prior to reaching our adult age.
Believe you me, DREAMers could really be labeled as Catch-44s, since their situation is twice beyond a regular predicament. Yet still, the Sith will continue to scream and label us as unwelcomed and unassimilated foreigners. Never mind the fact that we DREAMers have now grown up to be as American as our documented peers. The Sith would have you believe we refuse to learn the spoken language. If you couldn't tell already, I think I've mastered the English language quite well, thank you. So much so, I can't even be considered bilingual anymore, due to the fact that I can't speak my original language. And yet, they will continue to spread myths about DREAMers as if they would be a burden to society. While common sense would dictate that all we high achieving DREAMers have strived for are the American dream and a chance to give back to the country that has given us so many opportunities. A chance to contribute back to the communities that have raised us and a chance to serve our country by joining the armed forces is all we really ask for.
Without a doubt this country has invested in all of us, and that we are thankful for. What we DREAMers really want is to return that investment. As proof (pdf) of this account, the latest figures by the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the DREAM Act version passed in the House last week (H.R.6497) would reduce the deficit by $2.2 billion over the 2011-2020 period. The JCT also estimates a $1.7 billion in revenues increase over a period of 10 years. So I must say...How you like me now?
Once again, in Sith talk: REDUCE. DEFICIT. $2.2 BILLION!!!!!!!!!!
So for those Sith conservatives huffing, puffing and screaming about how any form of legalization would be a burden to the economy and add towards the federal deficit, you are mistaken. Their response: "This is blasphemy!!! This is Madness!!!" My response: "Madness? This! Is! DREAM Act!" If the Sithcons actually believe in their own philosophy of fiscal restraint and reducing the federal deficit, then I would suggest supporting H.R.6497. Because with all the investments that were made towards our primary and secondary education, it seems the rational thought would be to allow DREAMers to return that cost monetarily and militarily. But of course as I've previously mentioned already, rational thought seems to be on the endangered list.
As efforts are ramped up to secure passage of the DREAM Act within the Senate before the end of the year, articles will continue to churn daily about the pro-immigrant legislation. Undoubtedly, this will continue to attract Sith posters, all caps-locking their fallacies. And here I will be reading them, while eating a pint of Americone Dream and laughing at the bewildering dark side comments filled with anger and hatred. Because after all, the irrationality they scream is all but ice cream to me, as I'll continue to easily melt the scoops of poorly drawn out arguments they put forth. For my Jedi DREAMers, along with those who chose the path of rationality and logical reasoning, I applaud you and bid you with one last parting reference.