I've had the immigration debate with several people over the years, and when I found I was falling in love with an immigrant into the US, I had to make sure we were on the same page. This was because of the distortion of psyche Jose Antonio Vargas explains below, and one I never wanted to find in myself.
My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant - NYTimes.com - Jose Antonio Vargas
"It was an odd sort of dance: I was trying to stand out in a highly competitive newsroom, yet I was terrified that if I stood out too much, I’d invite unwanted scrutiny. I tried to compartmentalize my fears, distract myself by reporting on the lives of other people, but there was no escaping the central conflict in my life. Maintaining a deception for so long distorts your sense of self. You start wondering who you’ve become, and why."
I feel some sympathy for Vargas, and for some others who immigrated as children and had no control over their parents' or guardians' choices to move without papers. However, my instinct is that as an adult, they should make that effort to return to their original country and then if necessary, find a way back to the country where they want to be.
For those who are already adults and choose to leave their country and settle in another without the required documentation that grants you permanent residency or citizenship, I do wonder, what are they thinking?
As someone who has lived as an immigrant in both the UK and the US, I have come across many Nigerians who are illegals, call it undocumented or what have you. The truth is that by making that choice to overstay a tourist visa, student visa, or expired H1B, you're putting yourself in a position where you can't help but lie to get by. You lie to get social security, lie to get a license, lie to get into school, lie to get a job. Lie, lie, lie, how can they bear it?
And say you're a single woman, or man, you may even find yourself lying in your personal relationships, you may get married on a lie (Green card marriage), and what if you end up married to a fellow illegal - which happens often - what about your illegal-born American children? Do people realize it's no more automatic, and the children could get deported along with them too if they're caught? Some states in America are in the process of setting up laws to discriminate against illegals in such a way that it even affects their legal children, especially when it comes to food stamps and other government benefits. But do I really blame them?
And here I come to the weightiest part for me personally. My number one life motto is FREEDOM. Inside and out. Vargas had an apparent freedom, but in his head he was in prison. He could not travel out of the US, and had not seen his family in the Philippines for almost 20 years. What kind of life is that? For me, I want to do whatever I like with my life, go wherever I want, and live wherever I want.
Most of all, I want to be free to achieve whatever I can. It breaks my heart to see talented and skilled people waste themselves in under-the-table jobs just because they're illegals in a country. I wish more people will realize how important it is to maximize your life, both for your own sake and for that of whatever country you happen to live in.
What are your thoughts on this matter? If you'll prefer to drop comments as Anonymous, I've turned it on specifically for this.