It was a few months ago when she called Radio 1310 in Atlanta from Virginia, and I picked up the phone and heard her plea for help. Her name is Linda Cedillos, and she is the wife of Roberto Cedillos, who was then being held for deportation and has now been deported. Even though she is a citizen -native born, white and even blonde-- and just from the citizen part, has a right to have her spouse be granted permanent resident status so he can be with her and the kids. But Roberto was snatched from their home by la migra, and "persuaded" to sign a "voluntary" departure by four jack-booted Nazi gestapo thugs ... I mean immigration officers ... who explained not just with words but with a physical demonstration the relationship between Roberto's health and his signature on the voluntary departure document.
And don't tell me you're shocked, just *shocked,* that such a thing could happen "in America." The Guantanamo concentration camp is as American as Apple Pie. Hollywood even nominates movies glorifying the torture that routinely goes on there for Academy Awards.
This is what worries me about Obama --and the two parties-- in relation to "immigration reform," which to me has nothing to do with high tech visas and everything to do with wiping out the stigma against and persecution of undocumented immigrants.
Google "Linda Cedillos" and you'll see how she has been fighting for --at first-- her husband's release and then for his return. Perhaps Obama didn't notice, but he has advisers, analysts and aides by the score. By conventional American political standards, if Obama's team were genuinely, humanely and sincerely interested in helping unauthorized immigrants, they could not hope for a bigger club with which to beat the Republicans into submission than this case.
And on the Republican side, I can't come up with a better case to show their hearts overflow with the milk of human kindness than by making at least *an exception* in this case of an exemplary family. Yet neither side does the obvious, politically convenient thing, showing they're still in thrall of the xenophobic hysteria that Bush the lesser and his acolytes unleashed in the wake of 9/11.
On change.org, Linda has a petition to the president to just let her family BE a family by allowing it to be reunited. I subscribed to it and then wrote an explanation, which change.org kept choking at even though by my standards it was so mild as to border on anodyne. This is what I wrote:
* * *
People have been moving from one place to another looking for a better life for themselves and their loved ones since our chimpanzee ancestors climbed down from the trees and started living in African Savannas and coastal caves.
True, today we have a more complex society and I can see why some would say that for that ages-old pattern to be continued, it now needs to be done in an orderly way.
But our government instead has adopted discriminatory immigration laws that defy reality. Did you know that people from a huge country like Mexico, with which we are deeply interpenetrated by history, geography and economy, do not have access to a higher number of immigrant visas than Monaco has a right to, even though Monaco is far away, has very little interchange with the United States, covers less than one square mile and has barely 36,000 residents?
The millions of unauthorized immigrants in the United States are here first and foremost because our economy needed them. The REAL effect of our immigration laws is not to keep them OUT but to keep them "illegal" and thus much more easily cheated and exploited by unscrupulous employers. And I am far from convinced that this was an accident.
Congress can do many things, but it cannot overrule the laws of nature nor of a market economy. There are T-shirts out there that say "Gravity: it's the law," and there should also be ones that say, "Supply and demand: it's the law." Immigrants are here first of all because there was a demand for their labor. That's a fact.
But even if you think that's all poppycock and "the law is the law," the basic unit of our society is the family, and breaking up families is much the greater crime even if you think that crossing an imaginary line someone drew on a map should be in the criminal code.
Support Linda and Roberto: it's not just the human, it's the hominid thing to do.
And even in terms of Congress's laws, deporting Roberto was wrong. As a citizen, Linda has a right to have her husband here, next to her. He was not deported legally, but because four goons from ICE beat the shit out of him so he would sign a "voluntary" departure.
Since the last days of the Bush administration, Congress has given ICE a quota of 400,000 deportations per year. And the Obama administration has done nothing to stop or ameliorate this, instead staging a cover-up by claiming they la migra was only or mostly deporting "criminals," and so the math would work out, they put into that category people who only had committed traffic offenses and even people who had just been *accused* of minor infractions but not even convicted. They were all counted among the "criminals" as part of the quota cover-up.
This madness needs to stop. And even if you don't agree that it is madness, I hope you will at least see that Linda's righteous, God-fearing family deserves better than what has been done to them, and sign her petition.
It is here: http://www.change.org/petitions/the-president-of-the-united-states-bring-roberto-cedillos-back-to-us-allow-to-apply-for-residency.
Maybe you wouldn't have worded it like Linda does, but this woman's tenacity and combativeness in fighting for her family deserves the unstinting support of everyone who in their chest has a heart instead of a tumor.