News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Monday, September 10, 2007

"It's not a crime"

"It's not a crime," Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani said about illegal immigration in a CNN interview September 7th. After several weeks of blustering with Mitt Romney over who’s tougher on illegal immigration, this appears to be a turn-around on Giuliani’s part.

“When you throw an immigrant out of the country, it's not a criminal proceeding. It's a civil proceeding."

Rudy Giuliani, Republican presidential candidate

Lost in Giuliani’s headline-making quote is his accurate distinction between “illegal entry” (a criminal offense) and “illegal presence” (a civil matter), a fact Giuliani learned during his experience as U.S. attorney in New York’s Southern District. That article of truth, however, will not quell the howling from the xenophobes who are already calling Giuliani a traitor.

How divided could the American body politic get over the immigration issue? Well, there is Jim Boyd, who ran a losing campaign for City Council in Nashville on a platform that claimed all Mexicans in the U.S. are bent on a “reconquista” of the United States.

"They're American citizens of convenience, until they can start a new country. Then they'll shuck their citizenship as easily as you or I take off a jacket.

Defeated Nashville City Council candidate Jim Boyd

Boyd received 8,000 votes in his bid for office, proving that irrational hatred against Hispanics is not limited to the Southwest. While Boyd’s constituency turned out to be only 2% of the vote, it's part of a disturbing trend. Historians claim those openly supporting the American Revolution were no more than a one-third of the colonists at the start of hostilities. History has shown that during times of crisis and stress, the influence of extremists invariably exceeds their numbers. It is a history lesson we cannot afford to forget.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez