Afterthoughts on "Deport this Illegal Immigrant" – Confessions

Alright, so I am not particularly pleased with this Rubin Navarette Jr. article IN MY CITY NEWSPAPER about deporting Arthur Mkoyan because he feels AM is getting “special treatment” as opposed to a DREAMer who is of Mexican origin. And I was harsh about it on ADD.

I am the last person who would try to stifle voices that raise the ‘race’ factor in immigration but I have to exercise moderation for posts at ADD. I apologize if I offended anyone with the post at ADD.; the Navarette Jr. article hit me precisely at the moment that I was celebrating the private bill for Arthur.

I admit, I did not for one second think about Arthur’s racial or ethnic background as opposed to that of students like Meynardo Garcia or Tope Awe. It does not matter to me — but maybe Rubin is right — it does matter to your average American. Why is Arthur getting a private bill sponsored for him while Awe or Garcia are not?

It is a sad part of our immigration system, still ridden with racial bigotry. But what is sadder is when I feel compelled to keep quiet about the media and political disparities in treatment, just so we can at least keep one student. It is sadder when I knowingly do not protest how the DREAM Act is written to feed into the migrant-military complex. I get tired of promoting citizenship for “assimilated English-speaking youth” – Please, I could care less if someone spoke English or not.

And what stabs me the most is the part about “these students being American and belonging to America.” I, Prerna Lal, who writes subaltern history, histories of alternative nationalisms and critiques of the nation-state form, am caught promoting national identity with pride. Let me make this clear–I could care less about any ‘American’ traits I may possess and refer to myself as ‘Islander Girl.’ I don’t see the erosion of national identity and nationalism as a bad thing especially in a world where capital is growing increasingly borderless and more people live outside their country of birth than ever before. Why should someone be compelled into identifying with a nation-state where they reside against their will? Even if you are born a citizen of the United States of America, what difference does it make whether or not you love your country? Being proud of your country of birth or national identity is stupid — no one chooses where they are born or brought up. By the same token, why would someone fight so hard to gain citizenship in a country where s/he will always be second-class? From where I stand, nationalism is a bigger ISM than racism in the immigration debate (of course they are not mutually exclusive).

That is my dialectical conflict. The struggle would never end for me and maybe that will keep me on my toes. I suppose I should follow my either/or advice and not be compelled into choosing. After all, we can critique something and still support it for the greater good, right? So for me, it is not about writing a frustrating article advocating the deportation of a DREAMer just to prove a point about systemic racism. I will still write about systemic racism but not demean or disparage any student youths–documented or undocumented. I think that is what bugged me about the Navarette Jr. article — he did not have to call for Arthur’s deportation, even if it was tongue-in-cheek, just to make a point about our racism.

No one should call you or me a hypocrite for supporting Arthur Mkoyan while writing about the racism in promoting AM over all our other students. And I expect the same rule to apply when critiquing U.S. foreign policy and actions while advocating for our DREAMs.

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