We interrupt this blog for a reminder from a veteran

As many of you know, I am a veteran. I wore the uniform of the United States Air Force for six years, and did so proudly. While I was not deployed to Iraq in the first Gulf War, I was active duty and I could have been. I joined up knowing we were headed for a conflict with Saddam and his, at the time, fourth largest army in the world. So every year on Memorial Day, I think about the oath I swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, and how we’re all doing with that.

My dad and I agree on a lot of things, and we were equally vociferous in our opposition of Bush 43 and his administration’s reckless disregard of the Constitution. But while I think the anti-immigration sentiment that led to Arizona’s unconstitutional “papers, please” law is fundamentally unAmerican, he thinks we need to get rid of all these “illegals” who are wrecking his country. This morning, he sent me this.

MEXICO IS ANGRY
This is very interesting and if Arizona can do it, why can’t the rest of America ?
Three cheers for Arizona
The shoe is on the other foot and the Mexicans from the State of Sonora,  Mexico doesn’t like it.   Can you believe the nerve of these people?  It’s almost funny.
The State of Sonora is angry at the influx of Mexicans into Mexico . Nine state legislators from the Mexican State of Sonora traveled to Tucson to complain about Arizona ‘s new employer crackdown on illegals from Mexico .
It seems that many Mexican illegals are returning to their hometowns and the officials in the Sonora state government are ticked off.
A delegation of nine state legislators from Sonora was in Tucson on Tuesday to state that Arizona ‘s new Employer Sanctions Law will have a devastating effect on the Mexican state.
At a news conference, the legislators said that Sonora, – Arizona’s southern neighbor, – made up of mostly small towns, – cannot handle the demand for housing, jobs and schools that it will face as Mexican workers return to their hometowns from the USA without jobs or money.
The Arizona law, which took effect Jan. 1, punishes Arizona employers who knowingly hire individuals without valid legal documents to work in the United States .
Penalties include suspension of, or loss of, their business license.
The Mexican legislators are angry because their own citizens are returning to their hometowns, placing a burden on THEIR state government. ‘How can Arizona pass a law like this?’ asked Mexican Rep Leticia Amparano-Gamez, who represents Nogales .
‘There is not one person living in Sonora who does not have a friend or relative working in Arizona ,’ she said, speaking in Spanish. ‘Mexico is not prepared for this, for the tremendous problems it will face as more and more Mexicans working in Arizona and who were sending money to their families return to their home-towns in Sonora without jobs,’ she said. ‘We are one family, socially and economically,’ she said of the people of Sonora and Arizona .
New Immigration Laws:
1 There will be no special bilingual programs in the schools.
2 All ballots will be in this nation’s language..
3 All government business will be conducted in our language.
4 Non-residents will NOT have the right to vote no matter how long they are here.
5 Non-citizens will NEVER be able to hold political office
6 Foreigners will not be a burden to the taxpayers. No welfare, no food stamps, no health care, or other government assistance programs. Any burden will be deported.
7 Foreigners can invest in this country, but it must be an amount at least equal to 40,000 times the daily minimum wage.
8 If foreigners come here and buy land… options will be restricted. Certain parcels including waterfront property are reserved for citizens naturally born into this country.
9 Foreigners may have no protests; no demonstrations, no waving of a foreign flag, no political organizing, no bad-mouthing our president or his policies. These will lead to deportation.
10 If you do come to this country illegally, you will be actively hunted and when caught, sent to jail until your deportation can be arranged. All assets will be taken from you.
Too strict ?
The above laws are current immigration laws of MEXICO!

My reaction was, “Yeah? So?” I think it kind of proves my point. America is supposed to be better than this. We were founded on the idea that this was THE place, the one place on Earth that anyone could come to for a better life. We were founded on immigration. Even the “native” Americans migrated here from Asia thousands of years ago. The United States of America is supposed to have open, welcoming borders, so that those “huddling masses yearning to breathe free” can get here and start anew. So telling me that Mexico’s immigration laws are far stricter than our own tells me that we’re getting it right. The people complaining that the country is being overrun by Latinos sound just like—and just as stupid and fundamentally unAmerican as—the people who complained we were being overrun by the Italians, or the Chinese, or the Irish.

Note the references to the “nation’s language” in the rules above. America doesn’t have an official language. We don’t. Never have. There was a fierce debate almost 200 years ago whether the official language of the United States should be English… or German, which was spoken in much of Pennsylvania, at the time the largest state. After a long drawn out fight, they agreed that America wouldn’t recognize an official language at all. English is by far the most common, but people who insist that it’s “the” language of the United States don’t know their history. We’re a melting pot. We’re supposed to be. The fact that the ratio of white people to everyone else in America is dropping is what is supposed to happen. (For the record, I’m white.) Now the same people in Arizona are trying to pass a law stating that people born in the United States aren’t citizens if they’re born to undocumented parents, a blatant violation of the 14th amendment.

I carry a copy of the United States Constitution on my iPhone, and refer to it from time to time as a reminder of what this nation is supposed to be about. That we’re supposed to be free from unreasonable search and seizure—which Arizona’s “papers, please” law contradicts—and we’re supposed to be dedicated to making sure the first amendment’s freedom of expression and assembly is sacred.

Phil Plait, of the popular blog Bad Astronomy, gets this.

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, where we take time to remember those who have died, and specifically those who have fought and died for the country. In my opinion, they didn’t fight to protect our country, they fought to protect the idea of our country. The principles for which it stands, the ideas and ideals that give people the chance to reach their full potential. That’s what America is supposed to be about, and the framework that provides that chance is the Constitution.

The issue Phil links to is about a Christian high school student objecting to an official school prayer at his graduation ceremony, because the kid knows his Constitution and knows that religion is supposed to be kept separate from government-sponsored organizations like schools. It’s galling how often we forget this, or choose to ignore it.

So today, in honor of the brave men and women who have given their lives to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, read over our Constitution, or at least refamiliarize yourself with the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments. These are the founding principles of our Republic, and they are not optional. This is what we fight for, and what so many have died to protect. Respect their sacrifice.