I Should Be Entitled to a Congressional Medal of Honor!

by lewwaters

The Congressional Medal of Honor is America’s highest award for bravery and few receive it, even less that is still alive. Currently, less than 100 Veterans who are recipients of the medal are still living. That’s less than 100 men out of approximately 24 Million Veterans.

I didn’t receive a Congressional Medal of Honor because I never performed any act of bravery that rose to the level of sacrifice that would merit one. But, why should that matter? I served a little over 8 years active duty in the U.S. Army, spent 18 months in Vietnam, was shot at, mortared, subjected to rocket attacks and sapper attacks, just like many others.

But, without performing that act of “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of my life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States,” I am not a recipient.

So, what makes me think I should receive one now?

With apologies to all of those brave men who did receive the medal, it is an analogy to American citizenship, maybe the highest prized accomplishment of legal immigrants to our land and also being sought after now by illegal immigrants, those who have not performed the needed requirements to obtain citizenship, but feel they are entitled due to the length of time they have circumvented our laws to remain in the country illegally or have been employed in a job they feel merits it.

What brings me to this comparison is a recent article appearing in the magazine section of the New York Times, My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant. Written by a Pilipino man, Jose Antonio Vargas, an autobiographical account of his being sent to America at age 12 and his subsequent discovery of being an Illegal Alien at age 16 and various and several measures after that discovery of getting by and advancing as an Illegal Alien.

Unlike some, he didn’t work in the fields; he became an award winning journalist. But to get there, he describes how, using a fake passport, he was able to obtain a Social Security number. Seeing it was stamped “Valid for work only with I.N.S. authorization,” he describes how he and his grandfather, who was a legally naturalized citizen, covered the statement with white tape and made realistic looking copies of the Social Security card.

Next, he describes he “began checking the citizenship box on my federal I-9 employment eligibility forms,” stating “Claiming full citizenship was actually easier than declaring permanent resident green card status, which would have required me to provide an alien registration number.”

Saying he felt guilty, he also says he “needed to live and survive on my own” after being kicked out of his grandfathers home for admitting he was gay, describing coming out on that as “less daunting than coming out about my legal status.”

Fearing he couldn’t qualify for state and federal financial aid for college, due to being illegal, he describes applying for “a new scholarship fund for high-potential students who were usually the first in their families to attend college. Most important, the fund was not concerned with immigration status.” He attended San Francisco State University where tuition, lodging, books and other expenses were funded for him.

He then worked for The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Daily News and the Seattle Times as an intern. He lost the internship with the Seattle Times when he had to reveal his illegal alien status.

In 2002 he heard of the proposed DREAM Act that he saw as his ticket to being legal. Consulting an Immigration Lawyer, he was told he would have to “go back to the Philippines and accept a 10-year ban before I could apply to return legally,” that he found unacceptable.

He then says, “For the summer of 2003, I applied for internships across the country. Several newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and The Chicago Tribune, expressed interest. But when The Washington Post offered me a spot, I knew where I would go. And this time, I had no intention of acknowledging my ‘problem’.”
“The Post internship posed a tricky obstacle: It required a driver’s license. (After my close call at the California D.M.V., I’d never gotten one.) So I spent an afternoon at The Mountain View Public Library, studying various states’ requirements. Oregon was among the most welcoming — and it was just a few hours’ drive north.”

He continues, “At the D.M.V. in Portland, I arrived with my photocopied Social Security card, my college I.D., a pay stub from The San Francisco Chronicle and my proof of state residence — the letters to the Portland address that my support network had sent. It worked. My license, issued in 2003, was set to expire eight years later, on my 30th birthday, on Feb. 3, 2011.”

Unfortunately for him, Oregon strengthened their DMV law and he would have to show citizenship. Earlier this year, in February as the Oregon license expired, he simply slipped north across the border and obtained a Washington State drivers license as our legislature refuses to strengthen our law.

Obtaining the Washington Drivers License he says “offered me five more years of acceptable identification — but also five more years of fear, of lying to people I respect and institutions that trusted me, of running away from who I am,” adding “I’m done running. I’m exhausted. I don’t want that life anymore.”

He wrote the article for the New York Times, drawing the sympathy of several in their comments section. He also says he is “working with legal counsel to review my options,” apparently still unwilling to take the needed steps to become a legal citizen.

How is it someone who so flagrantly broke our laws over so many years even has options?

I have no sympathy. An illegal alien is still an illegal alien. Regardless of how good he is at what he does, he knowingly violated immigration laws for many years and took slots that might have benefited legal citizens. He admits to altering a Social Security Card obtained falsely and now, years later, expects legal options?

Therein is my analogy. He has been unwilling to make the needed sacrifices to become legal. Living in the shadows, he sought an easy way where others struggle to become an American citizen.

If under those circumstances he is now entitled to citizenship just for the asking, me and every single person who served honorable in a combat zone should also be entitled to a Congressional Medal of Honor and all of the prestige and benefits associated with it.

Of course, we wouldn’t receive one and I doubt any would accept it without having made the sacrifices. To do so would greatly cheapen the medal and its meaning.

Likewise, handing out citizenship to those who knowingly violate our immigration law cheapens American citizenship, which I believe to be one of the most sought after prizes in the world.

21 Comments to “I Should Be Entitled to a Congressional Medal of Honor!”

  1. He should be arrested and deported, right now. Immediately. Today.

  2. I’m appalled that with all of his admissions of years of knowingly breaking the law, falsifying documents to gain work, lucrative work at that, that he even has options to review.

    Of note too, he researched and found Oregon an easy mark for a drivers license and once they changed their laws, just crossed the river in to Washington to obtain one.

    The amount of sympathetic comments at the New York Times is equally appalling.

  3. I come at this from a completely different angle. Sometimes prevention is the only solution, and if there is no way to prevent something, like drug use, then manage it. From a purely engineering analysis of the “illegal immigrant” problem, after-the-fact penalties are draconian to implement and haphazardly applied. Even if you started executing illegal aliens by the 1000s, or deporting them by the 10,000s, the ones that remain (10s of millions!) will still hide or revolt. There is no solution that is less offensive than the Jewish pogroms of history.

    DON’T ALLOW THEM IN!!! But if they get in then manage the situation.

  4. Martin, while not exactly on par with illegal immigration, we have for many years had to deal with bank robbers, rapists, murderers and what have you.

    We don’t allow those either, but they still happen. How do we “manage” them?

    It should be noted too, in the NYT article, how the young man researched online for the easiest path to obtaining a drivers license and found it in Oregon, then Washington just this year. All to maintain his remaining and appearing to be as legal immigrant.

    And interesting article appears in the July edition of the American Legion magazine, “Independence from Illegal Immigration.” The article mentions how passing stricter enforcement policies is reducing the numbers through attrition.

    It’s not online, but if you like I can scan it and send it to you.

  5. Lew, this issue is one of those where the difference in our fundamental ideologies, Liberal v. Conservative, flares up. I certainly believe in law enforcement (I’m an attorney!) but I often don’t think increasing penalties is the answer or even productive. So, rather than beat a dead horse, I’ll suggest the root of the immigration problem…

    The major instigating factor is jobs. Immigrants are willing to work the low-prestige jobs at low wages, and they are great employees. I blame this situation on unions, and the sense of entitlement and self-absorption of native-born Americans. I see no solution. Who IS going to pick the strawberries?

  6. Martin, you’re right about our ideologies differing, no big deal though.

    What I meant by passing stricter enforcement policies is like Arizona’s recent measure to give Police the authority to check immigration status and Oregon’s move to require a birth certificate for a drivers license.

    Just knowing that enforcement is back on the table caused a reduction in the numbers of illegals. In the case of Oregon’s law, it merely moved them to Washington to obtain a drivers license, which they can then use in other states to transfer over.

    As far as picking strawberries (or whatever), what did we do before? Yes, I agree with you “on unions, and the sense of entitlement and self-absorption of native-born Americans.” Our people have adopted the attitude that they shouldn’t have to work at menial tasks for lower wages and guess what? We are paying for that currently in the economy.

    But, that can and must change.

    In another light, relying on illegal immigrants to do those menial tasks amounts to slavery in my estimation. We encourage them to come here, work menial jobs at low wages in sub-standard conditions often and try to keep them under the radar.

    Is it really that much different than how Africans who were forced to come here in chains were treated once here? True, the Mexican slaves aren’t sold on the auctioning block (although some are sold into sex slavery), but they are kept in fear of being discovered if mistreated.

    To me, those that advocate using Mexicans (mostly) for such tasks and justifying it with keeping the price of our fruit and vegetables low are actually returning us to a slavery condition.

  7. My goodness, Lew, your “slave” speech sounds like a real Liberal!

    When the World crashes economically, we’ll have a chance to rewrite the law. Liability must change dramatically. (I’m personally researching New Zealand’s socialized liability.) Also, social burdens should be removed from the employer and put on the public. Just those two things alone would go a long way towards allowing “free market” solutions to social problems.

  8. I guess the only question I would have, Martin, if the slave issue is a Liberal point of view, why aren’t Liberals making it instead of advocating they come here under those conditions?

    Yes, changes must be made and I hope they can be made and avert such a world economic crash.

  9. There is a large component of the Democratic Party that is Hispanic: their self-interest subsumes Liberal ideology. Also, the Progressives (Marxist-tilt) espouse equality over liberty – they welcome a homogenized World Order. The battleat the ballot box is against these Special Interests, and also the lassie faire capitalist (which are usually Republican).

  10. The problem here, of course is that your concept of “managing” this situation would draw them here like flies. Making this an “ok, I’ve crossed the border, you have to keep me” kind of arrangement is a recipe for disaster.

    Manging this includes deporting those we know to be here illegally. Managing this includes imprisoning those who employ illegals. Manging this includes confiscating their property. Managing this includes getting rid of the “born here” automatic citizenship rule.

    Marti, I know you’re an open borders kind of guy… you’ve even gone so far as to suggest that citizenship shouldn’t be a criteria to vote… which is difficult enough now, given the hundreds of thousands of illegals voting as it is.

    But your idea of “managing” this nightmare is a slippery slope leading to disaster.

  11. As brought out in the American Legion article I mentioned above, many are leaving on their own instead of being deported.

    Just knowing that strict enforcement is on the table has caused many to either leave, or come to Washington State, as we saw in that Seattle Times article telling us we have seen a 35% increase in illegal immigrants, while other states have seen a slight decrease or remained steady.

  12. Yeah, I know I won’t get any votes from either side on this issue, but I’ve made my argument and it’s a good one (though not popular). Hard problems are “hard” for a reason.

  13. Isn’t that the very essence of our system, Martin?

    We don’t solve issues here, but we bring them up and discuss them and hopefully, draw others to discuss matters and see them brought to solutions at the ballot box.

    There is no simple solution to the problem of illegal immigration, but past experience has shown amnesty as a failure.

  14. Would not the national use of E-Verify limit the ability of this individual and others to game the system? Without employment opportunities would not self deportment be likely in many cases?

  15. That would be a good start and one I advocate, Steve. But, as he explains, he was able to obtain a legal social security number by fraudulent documents and then doctored the card.

    I don’t know if e-verify would catch that.

    Many steps need to be taken and e-verify is one.

    Another I’d like to see is H.R.4088 the “Secure America Through
    Verification and Enforcement” act brought back and passed.

  16. 25 million people is it’s own economy. There are whole districts in many States that are almost entirely Hispanic, (including Washington). The underground economy is huge, employing millions of people.

    Often Conservatives want to punish the employer. Should employers go to jail for an employee’s drug use? How about driving infractions or domestic abuse? If you make the employer responsible for the sins of the employee, that is as Marxist as the Progressives.

    I agree, a pogrom would work – it worked in Germany. Do we have the stomach for it?

  17. A big problem with that economy of its own, Martin, is how much of that economy is sent back to the home country instead of circulating in our own economy. That’s a large chunk of our economy going elsewhere instead of circulating here, where it is needed.

    If an employer knowingly hires an illegal alien, with the intent of paying them less and knowing the illegal alien is not entitled to legal work, yes he should be arrested.

    That is a far cry from someone using drugs off site after work.

    Incidentally, didn’t the courts rule employers could deny employment or fire employees for smoking tobacco at any time? Or is that still bouncing around the courts?

  18. In all seriousness, if we had the stomach for it, there is a “final solution” to the problem.

  19. If you mean the “final solution” as I think you do, martin, history shows it is not only wrong, but unworkable.

    I do support such measures for those convicted beyond a shadow of doubt for certain heinous crimes, though

    But, that is individual.

  20. After thinking about this, and considering that Lew and Kelly (and others) are intelligent, logical people, it’s obvious that you also recognize the “unworkable” nature of solving illegals already in this country – which leads me to believe it’s the “getting away with it” aspect of the situation that really irks you. Conservatives want law breakers to be penalized – it’s part of your base convictions. Because I have not been taking that into account, I’m missing the opportunity to find common ground.

    I’ll have to keep thinking about it…

    p.s. Personally, I think the Death Penalty works. If The People want it in their state, that’s their choice.

  21. Penalizing isn’t the only option, Martin. In the case of illegal aliens, incarceration solely for being in the country illegally solves nothing, they are till in the country with us paying for them. If they commit a serious crime, that is different, but that would also depend on the crime committed.

    Blanket solutions don’t work, I think we all admit to that.

    But again, I bring up the American Legion article and how passage of stricter enforcement policies has caused the numbers of illegals to decrease simply out of fear of being discovered and deported.

    Many left on their own, found their own way back.

    We will probably always have some illegal immigrants, but at much lower numbers that aren’t affecting the economy and that are much easier managed when discovered.

    Too many decades of lax enforcement and the amnesty given during Reagan’s time just told them to come in, all is fine.

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