Guadalupe: Cheapening an Honor


I am keenly following the deportation proceedings of one Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, an illegal immigrant from Mexico. Notice I didn’t say ‘undocumented’ or use any of the other euphemisms for breaking the law. I am paying attention to this specific case because I am a legal immigrant and I am astounded at how mainstream news articles are subtly condoning lawlessness.

A society that flouts the law is doomed. Or is it? My first instinct was to dismiss Guadalupe and support her deportation. After all, she had broken the law. But I understand there are many degrees of illegality, so exactly how illegal is it to do what Guadalupe did? As the facts became clear I tried to look at her side of the story.

She was found guilty of identity theft in 2009. Many would agree that a felony conviction should clearly lead to deportation. But the argument against that was that she only faked a social security number to get a job. I remember the paperwork, the fees and the line I had to stand in to lawfully apply for a social security card. Why did I do that when it seems to be okay to fake a social security number? I had needed a job too. I was a poor student with a huge tuition bill. Why did I respect the law? It would seem following the rules is for suckers.

The next fact that seems to count in her favor, if you read the New York Times that is, is that she had had two children since ‘sneaking into‘ Arizona from Mexico. I have made sure to practice safe sex and not to bring a child into this world until I was emotionally and financially ready. But now it seems if I had just knocked up a girl when I got here, I would’ve been able to stick around. That’s because deporting me would’ve ‘ripped my family apart’. I understand the idea of an ‘anchor baby’ better now.

Other criticisms against this deportation of a felon included the idea that there are more violent, more ‘serious’ criminals to deport first before this benign mother-of-two. I can’t really fault this line of thinking, except that focusing on low-hanging fruit could indicate to serious criminals that their time is almost up. After all, if they finish with Guadalupe and others like her, you can bet your bottom peso that cartel members will be next.

Legally immigrating to this country is expensive and hard to do for a reason; supply and demand. There is only a finite amount of resources in the republic, while the ranks of desperately poor people around the world could comfortably double the population of the United States. If we start saying it’s okay to break the law to get in, then be prepared to kiss America as you know it goodbye. It could quickly become just like the other lawless hellholes around the world.

I tried seeing both sides to this story. I tried to put myself in Guadalupe’s shoes. But I still don’t think my first instincts were wrong. It really boils down to a simple tenet: If you want to immigrate to the United States, you have to do so lawfully. And once you are here, you need to continue to respect the rule of law. Otherwise, you cheapen the honor of living in the greatest country on Earth. Don’t think the US is exactly that? Ask the thousands of people willing to break the door (and the law) to get in.

Author: Dirk Scheepers is a South African living in New York, and runs his own podcast known as the Dirk Scheepers Program.