A marching they will go ...

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In a couple hours, immigrant rights activists will lead a march from Union Park at Lake and Ashland to Grant Park aimed at protesting further deportations and raids until congress passes an acceptable immigration reforms.

Last year on May 1, nearly 500,000 marchers followed a similar route protesting a federal bill that would have made it a felony to assist illegal immigrants.
This issue strikes a cord with me. Before last year's march it was my job to tell the story of one immigrant's tale of living an illegal life.
With the help of activists, I found Martin Barrios, a hardworking fellow who was a manager at Sara Lee.
With the help of a translator we talked about his life in great detail. Barrios was already set to be deported, but held hope a bill being considered in congress to delay further deportations would keep him in Chicago.
He agreed to have his picture taken and to use his real name — to stand up for the thousands of guys like him who consider themselves contributors to American life, not criminals.
And for that he was fired from his job and later arrested by immigration, breaking apart his family and destroying his American dream.
His only sin was climbing over a mountain range toward opportunity. Barrios was strong enough to admit it, believed he had proved his worth to America and hoped that this country could forgive him.
Anyway, I'll be thinking about Barrios today. What do you think?

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I think that as soon as Barrios--and everyone else in this country illegally--decided that they wanted to stay, then they should have begun the legal process of becoming a citizen. I don't begrudge anyone the desire to have a better life. What I do take issue with is the attitude that many illegal immigrants have that, even though they've broken the law by entering the country illegally, they deserve to stay because they have built a life here. Obviously the threat of deportation isn't strong enough to convince illegals to do the right thing.

If you are not a citizen, you don't have a right to march. The key word is illegal. If I commit an illegal act I get arrested, charged and processed.Why should they be any different? so what's next let someone go after they commit a retail theft? battery? why should be any different?

I have at least 60 Hispanic people, all legal, working for me. Most of these people are Mexican, but some are from Gautamala, Costa Rica, Honduras, etc. Collectively, they have all worked their butts' off to start a life in this country and become legal US citizens. My own in-laws--father from India, mother from Poland--did the same thing in the 1970's. They came to this country to live a better life and to have more opportunity, and they worked hard to become US citizens.

Many of my employees take offense at these marchers/protestors because they feel the same way many typical American citizens do: why should these illegals be given amnesty? Both last year and this year, when I ask some of my employees "Are you going to participate in the march?" They indubitably say, "No way! Many of those people don't deserve to be here." It's only fair that illegal immigrants go through the same citizenship process as legal immigrants have had to endure.

Blanket amnesty is not the way to effective immigration reform.

Of course these illegal immigrants will not be granted amnesty, nor will they be denied employment or deported. This is is all just an elaborate shakedown gamed designed to justify the blatant violation of human rights. What did Bush say two years ago? "Freedom is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity." I guess he wasn't telling the truth again.

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Mark Konkol

Mark Konkol covers city neighborhoods for the Chicago Sun-Times. You can e-mail him or call (312) 321-2146.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Konkol published on May 1, 2007 11:09 AM.

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