No human is illegal. That is another line on our neighborhood sign. This comes from the disgusting habit of some people to dehumanize immigrants by calling them “illegals”. They contend that since many are coming across the border without following certain legal requirements they are illegal and thus deserve to be called simply “illegals”. This is a dodge around using terms that are clearly known to be racial and ethnic slurs, but it is no different- it is still a slur.

Anything that dehumanizes others is offensive and unworthy of a nation that was founded and grown by immigration. Every one of us, unless we are of indigenous blood, comes from immigrant roots. Some of us, like me, can trace it very far back. I once remarked at work that my ancestors came over on the Mayflower (true). To which my Native American coworker Kenny replied “yea, well my ancestors met them when they got off the boat”. Touche!

Some people will complain “just follow the law”. But do they know for one thing how long and complicated the legal process is to immigrate? Do they understand the stress that many people have gone through to consider immigrating? Economic pressure, political persecution, not to mention the crime infesting their homelands? Desperate times make for desperate people making desperate decisions. Those of us who are native-born Americans were fortunate to be born on the right side of an artificial man-made boundary line. We should not cast aspersions on others who were not so fortunate. Especially those who live in a wide swath of land that up until 150+ years ago belonged to another country ( the southwest US states).

Stop and realize that most of these immigrants are struggling to do what most native-born Americans do – learn a foreign language. We should be patient with them, not insult them. We learned English naturally – being born into it. When was the last time you tried to learn a foreign language? For me, it was high school and college – with Spanish and German. Most Americans have never done that.

Immigration issues are complex, like most other policy discussions. We as a country have had our bright spots and blackouts, our celebrations and shames. We need reform of policies and not knee-jerk reactionary campaigns. But in all the discussions and debates the one thing we must not forget is that immigrants are humans, just like those of us who were born here. They are deserving of respect and the commandment “love your neighbor as yourself” applies to them just as much as the family who lives next door to us, because they are all our neighbors.