Opinion: United States shouldn't be quick to deport illegal immigrants

Maryam Stuart
Yahoo! Contributor Network
Taken at Arkansas State Capitol.

Imagine driving down the interstate as a police officer flicks on his siren, pulls you over and asks for your "papers." What papers? Oh, those papers. The immigration papers. I don't have those. Do you? I'm a "white" American -- really a mutt, a mixed breed of a myriad of nationalities and skin colors, but my genes happened to like the color white, for some reason. I, along with most other born Americans, both black and white, may never have to face the immigration questions. But that does not make them right.

Arizona's new immigration bill (SB 1070) aims to do what, in my opinion, is constitutionally and morally illegal -- put a face to the anti-American philosophy of allowing (predominantly Latin American) immigrants to be arrested and possibly deported at the discretion of a police officer.

If you've listened to Glenn Beck or Fox News for more than a few minutes, you've soon learned that many members of the right-wing American groups -- "Tea Partiers" for the most part -- do "frown on brown." Whether it's Latinos or Arab-Americans, they ultimately try to convey the message that if you aren't born "American" or are the product of immigrant parents, you aren't welcome. It's plain and simple to me; they want America to be black and white; there is no acceptable gray area.

So, what's wrong with this opinion? First, it's bigoted. Have we really arrived back at square one with civil rights? MLK must be rolling in his grave right now, seeing how all his hard work is slowing unraveling in the conniving hands of some lawmakers. Second, who decided the face of the American people? Last I checked, America is a cultural melting pot. Step onto any street in New York City, and you're bound to hear dozens of different languages within a few minutes and see even more variations in skin color. There's nothing wrong with that; it's cultural diversity.

Sure there are some who come to our great country and want to take advantage of government programs, like food stamps and Medicaid. But aren't some of our own people doing that? Of course there are plenty of illegal immigrants, but have you ever stopped to think about what their lives must have been like in their own countries? While Americans' biggest worries are what to watch on TV, how to choose between the 25 fast-food restaurants and what to wear the first day of school, many people are starving to death; women are floating across seas to escape misogyny, disease and malnutrition. We can send envelopes with checks to Darfur, but we can't find it in our hearts to welcome them with open arms at our borders.

Our ancestors -- American or something else -- didn't have the proper paperwork, but they lived freely and justly. Our great country has always stood for something more than color. Our forefathers had no idea how hard their struggle for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness would continue. Let's not extinguish, with our smothering politics, the flickering light that is the American dream.