The righteous chest-beating debate drones on, denouncing illegal immigrants as nefarious lawbreakers destroying America. I’m reminded of similar debates in my youth of the lawbreaking civil rights protesters who wouldn’t eat where they were supposed to eat or go to the schools made just for them. If you’re my age (about to turn sixty) you don’t have to ask too many agemates to find someone who recalls their grandparents who immigrated from Europe. Many speak of their grandmothers “who never learned English” and who didn’t wait in long lines to get into the country but basically “just had to show up.” My parents spoke fondly of the neighborhood where they grew up in Denver being filled with immigrants from several different countries. Most were poor, hard-working, looking for a better life. Most were white. Now the lines are years and years long, and most regular folks shouldn’t bother to queue up since they haven’t a chance of ever getting in legally. My friends who are here legally face no end of harrassment from the INS and have little chance of becoming citizens. The Statue of Liberty, once the proud symbol of America’s welcoming ways is to be replaced by bigger and better walls. Don’t give us your poor anymore; we only want Ph.D.’s. It breaks my heart.

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