Let’s examine yet another “feel-good” story about a good-hearted person from south of the border, just looking for a better life in our country. Francisco Serrano came to the United States from Mexico on a tourist Visa in 2002 and simply never left after it expired. But we all know that immigration laws are for saps, so all that really matters is that Francisco got here, and then began looking for his place in America.
The first place he found was a high school in Minneapolis. He didn’t just study there, of course. He actually lived there for weeks, blending-in or hiding during the day and emerging at night to eat food from the cafeteria, shower in the locker room and entertain himself around the campus.
When he was finally discovered sleeping in the school’s auditorium in January 2005, he was, of course … celebrated for his boldness and success in trespassing. Students printed up “Free Francisco” T-shirts, the media took up his story, and a local developer gave him a free place to live and then hired an immigration attorney for him to petition for permanent legal status.
And this reaction was perfectly appropriate, since Francisco’s illegal adventure at the school was simply a perfect microcosm of the illegal adventure taken by millions of international trespassers in America every year. He snuck in, hid, ate tax-payer provided food, availed himself of public health facilities and then, when he was caught, he convinced a gullible community that he was just lovably independent and should thus be given a personal amnesty and subsidized housing. You couldn’t make up an illegal alien story that full of obvious and tortured symbolism if you tried. I mean, really, as allegory it’s nearly on a par with “The Lord of the Flies.” And I thought the author William Golding was dead.
Unfortunately for Francisco, however, infiltrating and leeching off a school is regarded as different from infiltrating and leeching off the entire nation, so a Judge had no choice but to order Francisco deported, or risk being featured on an episode of “The O’Reilly Factor.”
But in typical immigration-crime fighting fashion, the system failed miserably. Francisco the tramp was given a plane ticket and a trip to the airport, and then — surprisingly — he broke the law and snuck off somewhere as soon he was able. Yes, he was simply told to get on the plane and trusted to obey our laws. At this point, William Golding’s ghost found the story “tortured and unrealistic.”
But, again, the important thing is that Francisco, the loveable interloper, needed once more to find his place in America. He tried sharing a place with his Dad in Connecticut for a while. No news story has so far mentioned his father’s immigration status, so I have a guess that the mesquite bean didn’t fall far from the tree. But living at home can seem so legal and boring, so Francisco, the harmless little adventurer, again set out to sneak a place… I mean, “seek” a place of his own.
Two weeks ago he almost found it in Boston’s North End. Unfortunately, the person that was already living there was home at the time, and being apparently xenophobic, the selfish citizen did not simply accept Francisco into his home as a beloved new “undocumented family member.” Francisco thus had no choice but to fight for his right to illegal residency at that point. When police arrived, they found Francisco and the home’s legal occupant struggling with one another, and a knife in Francisco’s possession.
But at least Francisco finally found his place in America. He sits today in the Suffolk county jail. If the allegory continues properly, then no doubt Senator Ted Kennedy is currently at the jail, mangling the Spanish language in an indignant red-faced political speech and urging Francisco to register to vote in the upcoming congressional elections. And President Bush is probably close behind, en route in Air Force One to personally deliver Francisco an amnesty signed by Karl Rove.
For those not pandering for votes, however, Francisco’s story demonstrates a few points about the ongoing immigration crime debate.
One is that increased border security alone cannot stop illegal immigration. We must have an increased capacity to identify and deport those immigration criminals that enter on “temporary” visas (such as would be issued to Bush’s proposed “temporary” guest workers) and who then remain illegally, after blending into the general population.
Another lesson is that our current deportation procedures are an incompetent joke — mostly because a lot of people seem to want them that way. We would not now be discussing the merit or practicality of trying to deport the 11 million international trespassers in our midst, if we had simply deported many of them when we have had the chances.
Like Francisco, many thousands of illegal aliens are identified by the justice system each year — at traffic stops, disturbance calls, auto accidents and other common occurrences — and are then just returned into the population, rather than deported as the law requires. We do not need a special system to “round up” and deport illegal aliens en masse, as many pro-amnesty fear mongers dishonestly claim would be necessary. We just need to deport those that we find everyday, and a large part of the problem will take care of itself over time. At the very least, we would know that most of those that remain are pretty much law-abiding.
Lastly, the strange saga of Francisco demonstrates how unrealistic and stereotyped we have allowed our perceptions of illegal aliens to become. The idea that they are all universally good-hearted cheap labor on a Tom Sawyer like adventure to El Norte is ridiculous. Losing control over who enters and how many enter our country, as we have undeniably done, means that those who sneak in will be a decidedly mixed bag. There will be the hard-working and good-hearted, and there will also be flakes and criminals in the lot as well. Yet we have to take all, because we have no choice in the current corrupt system. We cannot even successfully deport the flakes and criminals after they are found committing any but the most serious crimes.
And to be honest, it does not really recommend a person to be our neighbor and share our homeland, when their first act in our country is to break our laws by sneaking in — which got to be something of a habit with Francisco.