Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Good immigrants/bad immigrants

In the early morning hours of May 12th, about a dozen Iraqi insurgents ambushed a small Army outpost in the village of Quarghouli in the Sunni Triangle. With a volley of rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire it wasn't long before they overwhelmed the seven soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division.

By the time a relief force reached the site, four US servicemen and their Iraqi Army interpreter lay dead. The fate of the other three soldiers was unknown, but there was evidence that they had been abducted. Within hours, a group calling itself Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia announced that it was not only responsible for the ambush, but was holding the three missing Americans.

A massive search effort was initiated utilizing 4000 US soldiers, 2,000 Iraqi troops, helicopters, search dogs and FBI interrogators. In the following days the manhunt was massive, homes were searched , canals drained, hundreds interrogated, and many arrested …but still no sign of the missing soldiers. Two more servicemen lost their lives in the search effort, but to no avail

Eleven days later, the body of 20-year-old private first class, Joseph Anzack, of Torrance, California, was found about 30 miles down river floating face down in the Euphrates. He had been shot multiple times and there were signs of tortured.

The fate of the two other missing servicemen – Alex R. Jimenez, a 25-year-old specialist from Lawrence, Massachusetts, and Byron R. Fouty, of Waterford, Michigan, a 19-year-old private who had been in Iraq only a few weeks, - is still unknown.(1)

It's against this backdrop that we now learn that Jimenez's wife, Yaderlin, whom he married in 2004, is facing deportation.

Yaderlin Hiraldo, is a native of the Dominican Republican who first met her husband during his childhood visits to the island, but according to her attorney, Matthew Kolken, the 22 year old had entered the U.S. illegally prior to marrying him. It was when he requested a green card and legal residence status for her, that authorities were first alerted to her situation.

Despite Spec. Jimenez's status as a US citizen and active duty serviceman, the fact the Yaderlin had entered illegally meant that she would now have to return home and wait ten years before reapplying.

"I can't imagine a bigger injustice than that, to be deporting someone's wife who is fighting and possibly dying for our country," said Kolken in an interview with a local TV.

An immigration judge has put a temporary stop to the proceedings since Spec. Jimenez was reported missing. The soldier's wife is now living with family members in Pennsylvania.

U.S. forces continue to search for Spec.Jimenez, 25, and a comrade, Pvt. Brian Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich.

The soldiers' identification cards were found in an al-Qaeda safe house north of Baghdad, along with video production equipment, computers and weapons, the U.S. military said Saturday. An al-Qaeda front group claimed in a video posted on the Internet earlier this month that the soldiers were killed and buried, and showed images of the ID's. The video offered no proof of their fates.


This sad case goes to highlight one of the biggest problems with the current discussions revolving around immigration reform. All too often we hear opponents of reform digging in their heels and talking tough about the "rule of law."

How often have we heard about their opposition being limited to "illegal" immigrants while claiming support for those who "do it the right way." They like to try to compartmentalize immigrants, and immigrant families into these two very black and white groups. The "good" immigrants" who wait their turn and the "bad immigrants" who enter improperly. But it's not so cut and dry.

As anyone who truly knows anything about the current immigrant experience can attest, the lines are hazy at best.

Within families, there can be all gradations of legality from citizens, to LPR's to the undocumented all living under the same roof. Husbands and wives with different status. Siblings, parents, aunts, uncles or cousins, all having differing legal status.

In a system that can leave legal permanent residents waiting ten years to bring in children or spouses and naturalized citizens up to twenty to bring in a sibling or parent, it is no wonder that even the most "law abiding" immigrant has someone close to them that is at constant risk of arrest and deportation.

This situation appears to be lost on those opposed to immigration reform.

During last years marches and rallies that brought millions into the streets to protest for reform, those from the right insisted on calling the demonstrations "illegal allien marches", or "illegal immigrant demonstrations." As if to imply that only those who are "law breakers" would be demanding reform.

But this could not be further from the truth. This issue effects the lives of many whom Lou Dobbs or Bill O'Rielly would deem "good immigrants" ….."good immigrants" like Spec. Alex Jimenez.

(1) Details of ambush-abduction courtesy of Shaun Mullen of Kiko's House...for more "Triangle of Death Search: A Final Report"


kyledeb said...

You know people that say they are in favor of legal immigration but against illegal immigration know very little about how messed up the legal immigration system is. People that are against amnesty always fail to mention that Cubans are given amnesty the second they touch U.S. soil. Who is to say that the oppression Cubans flee is worse than the oppression that an indigenous Guatemalan faces.

Rachel's Tavern said...

Yeah, people are clueless about immigration laws. I'd venture to say that 99% of the non-immigrant population is unaware of the fact that people have to return even if they marry a US citizen.

chris said...

I hope the immigration advocates really push this story. It gives an opening to explain how badly our immigration system really is. The restrictionists are trying to bury the story with the she's not going to be deported line. They don't want to deal with the fact that unless some extra special effort is made by congress, she won't be able to stay here. Sadly, so many don't know how the immigration system is not working.

chris said...

Those who oppose immigration reform really, really, really don't like this event, because it educates the public. I hope her husband is safe.
I hope we can fix our immigration system without waiting for anymore time to pass, because there are so many people who aren't going to receive any publicity, and thus be at the mercy of an outdated and intolerant immigration process.

Chris said...

I wonder if the AFL CIO is the one who has been pushing the idea of waiting till February 2009. If the bill were worse or the same in February 2009, would people then say wait till the year 2011. Sununu in New Hampshire, and Allard in Colorado are the only places where a Democratic defeat of a Republican will change the vote to a pro-immigrant stance. Smith, Collins, Coleman, Domenici, Warner, Stevens, Hagel could all lose to a Democrat, but the pro-immigrant vote will not increase, because Smith, Collins, Coleman, Domenici, Warner, Stevens, Hagel all vote pro-immigrant. Check the votes from last year if you'd like. The time is now. Nativist groups will attack a future Democratic president as an "Amnesty President". They will say this over and over. This will hurt a future Democratic president in other issues.I'd much prefer to do this now with Bush as political cover.
The laws and positions of a temporary worker program will be fought over, and over, and over again. The laws will change over this program constantly. I don't believe we should stop because of a program that could be altered in as few as 5 years. I believe democrats should fight for the best you can get, but pass this bill.

Tracy said...

This is so wrong. I hope that this story continues to get attention so that Yaderlin is treated justly.

James said...

Hey Duke! Still around?

Nonviolent Migration said...

Of course I feel sympathy for this story, and it does highlight the problems in our immigration system, but I think that using it sort of plays into the idea of deserving and undeserving immigrants or the good vs. bad dichotomy that the right uses. (And by the way, I say this as an Army veteran with four tours of duty to the Middle East).

Very few people know that migration to the United States was once Constitutionally protected as an "inherent and inalienable right."

We need to think bigger, and we need to think in terms of rights. But doing so requires that we stop going to our elected officials for help. If we change the social climate, the political climate will change automatically. This Congress should have taught us that the political will simply isn't there for even a mediocre bill.

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

Speaking of Republicans, did you know that Markos Moulitsas (DailyKos) wrote an editorial against gay service in the military?

Markos said,

"the demands and pressures of military life are incompatible with allowing integration with homosexuals."

And Markos was successful. Bill Clinton was forced to rescind his program to allow gays to serve in the military.

If you don't think a bigot like Markos Moulitsas should be running the Democratic Party, then please forward this information to people who support gay rights and who oppose homophobic and other kinds of bigotry.

Francis L. Holland

The Truth About Kos