, Gloucester, MA

March 25, 2013

Letter: Walking in the shoes of today's immigrants

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

As someone who is a conservative but not a “Conservative,” I was curious about the online reactions to Mr. Cook’s letter (the Times, Friday, March 22).

First up was an attack on Mr. Cook and the raising of the issue. Then the second, the third, … For the outraged ones, may I make a suggestion or two? I’ll skip the obvious one of finding more sources that claim to support your position even as they incite it. But imagine that your ability to support your family’s need for food, shelter, clothing, and medical care had deteriorated to the point where you had to take them and leave this country. The only apparent option was to move to a new country, where you could not speak the language and whatever poor education you had would not prepare you for the job skills you would need to survive.

Turn off your brain chatter for a moment and really try to understand how frightening this would be. Try to understand two more things: the courage you would need to risk your life and the lives of your family, and the desperation that you would have to face for this to be considered a better option.

I lived in another country for two years and I found that learning a second language as an adult is painful and tiresome. I also realized the separation in fluency never lets you forget “you are not one of us.” Some will make you feel welcomed. Many will make you aware that you are despised. You are different. You are not one of us. You are not welcomed.

In a country of some 330 million people, 11 million is important, but we have an incarceration rate of more than 1 percent of the country at any given time for such serious things as having a gram of marijuana with a seed in it to having two snorts of cocaine. We also hold murderers, rapists, thugs, batterers, thieves, robbers, and other violent offenders for terms that are sometimes shorter than the “druggies’” are.

Investment bankers, other committers of chicanery, financial bamboozlery, or swindles are treated with far more gentleness and shorter terms. Never mind that they harm thousands, and perhaps millions, and cause of the deaths of tens — perhaps hundreds — by what they have done. Yet go after the guy who politely asks if he might mow your lawn, plant some flowers, or do some weeding if he “speaks funny.”

It is easy to speak to a violation of a law. It takes thought to question the value of a law. It takes thought to explore consequences that might not be what we expect or believe. Re-examining our laws also takes courage and an integrity that is not always apparent in the online posts.