Here in the south, the prevailing sentiment on undocumented immigrants (or at least the stated one) seems to be that “I don’t mind ‘the Mexicans’ being here. What I mind is the fact that they’re here illegally.” The implication, of course, is that the only justification for discriminating against “the Mexicans” is the fact that they’re breaking the law by being here.
As generally unpleasant and hard to swallow as that logic may be, it seems particularly hypocritical when it’s uttered by someone who professes to have fought for equal rights for homosexuals. Until a few years ago, homosexual activity was illegal in almost every state in the union. The mere fact that same-sex contact was illegal was used by landlords, employers, government agencies, and other institutions as justification for whatever discrimination they deemed appropriate.
You’d think anyone who had been a member of a group that had been irrationally targeted using “illegal behavior” as a justification — homosexuals, members of interracial couples, etc. — would know better, or that he might at least be able to see some parallels here. But you’d be surprised by how often you’d be wrong about that.
Am I suggesting that everyone who breaks any law should be exempt from any consequences? No. I am, however, suggesting that our immigration laws probably need significant fine-tuning, just as our sodomy laws did several years ago. I’m also suggesting that anyone who has been discriminated against merely for breaking an unjust law might want to consider very carefully how he treats others who are in a similar predicament.
This presumes, of course, that “breaking the law” really is the only issue. And you know as well as I do that, sadly, it very often is not.