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April 1, 2010

The Census, Immigration and Other Stories

Patricia A. Kelly

I thought the uproar over the census was right wing ridiculousness, but then I sat down and really read my form.


I learned that my filling it out may get my community a larger share of the government allocation pie. It may also change my congressional district, and, it implies, insure that my community gets the representation it deserves.


There is only one problem. There is no indication that the form is to be filled out by citizens or legal residents of this country.


Illegal immigrants will have just as much impact on congressional representation and funding for my community as taxpaying citizens.


The Census Bureau wants to know my name, phone number, age and race, but they don’t care whether I’m a legal resident, and they are not trying to find out how many illegal residents live here.


I don’t get it. Legal status isn’t as important as my phone number? You need my phone number in case you don’t understand the answer to a question? Have you looked at the questions?


I don’t like it. I don’t want the presence of illegal immigrants to determine congressional representation, or budget allocations. I don’t want their presence to create a divided, bilingual society either.


I find this yet another, convincing piece of evidence that our government has no intention of resolving our illegal immigration problem in a manner that’s fair, sensible, or respectful of our own laws. There is no other reasonable explanation for the stonewalling that occurs when the subject comes up.


I hear things like: “It would be way too expensive to protect our borders. You’d have to build a wall.” “What about the children? You can’t keep a child from going to school.” “You have to provide medical care.” Or my personal favorite: “How would you feel if you had to go to the hospital in another country (that you were in voluntarily) and the people couldn’t understand what you said?”


This is nonsense. Of course, we need some border security, and certainly the flood of illegal immigrants makes a mockery of any pretense of effective homeland security here. There are, however, common sense solutions available. The only thing missing seems to be the common sense.


The elephant in the room is that there would be no reason to come here if you couldn’t get anything, like a job, schooling, medical care, etc. That would cost nothing, but the time it would take to pass a law.


A national I.D. card would make this simple. It could be acquired through the Department of Motor Vehicles, which already exists. It, or proof of temporary legal residence, would be required for enrollment in school, medical care other than emergencies, employment, renting an apartment, etc. We already have Social Security cards, driver’s licenses, and non-driver I.D. cards, so this would not constitute a new invasion of privacy.


We could explore, with the countries who receive the most money sent home by our illegal residents, an expatriate worker program. Then people could come here legally to work, send money home, and go home for vacations. I’d be fine with people who are already here applying for this. Their homes and children would return to their home countries, though.


In my view, we should review our amnesty and immigration policy. At present, it is very restrictive. Legal immigration has provided our country with the strength and energy that comes from fresh ideas and from diversity. We should make it easier to come in legally.


Last, but not least, we should commit to developing a unified United States of America by declaring English the national language. We all need to speak the same language. We would save a fortune in signs, document printing and mandatory translation, enough to pay for lots of trips home.


So, back to the Census. I can be fined $100 if I don’t fill it out. How odd that there’s no fine for coming here illegally. One can even immigrate legally as a physician, invite his parents over and get them free medical care through the county health department. There’s no fine for that either.


So, I’ve decided. I’ll be answering questions one and two on my census form, and enclosing a note expressing my disappointment in the choice of questions. Now I’m going to look for a cool compress for my forehead and lie down in a dark room for a few moments.


Is there a country out there I can swim to, be welcomed in my native tongue, give birth in a free hospital to my future immigration sponsor, get financial help for my little sponsor, enroll him in free school, and – if I make the right choices – trade in my gas hogging car for an incredible deal on a new car, courtesy of legal taxpayers, and, as long as I fail to pay my mortgage, re-negotiate it down to a lower, more affordable amount?


If you know of one, Email me right away at


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