In the ongoing war against extremists in Iraq and Afghanistan, our military has been hampered by a shortage of Arabic speakers.
So why are authorities trying to deport U.S. Army Sgt. Hicham Benkabbou, a decorated soldier who is fluent in Arabic as well as French and English?
His offense: Not reporting an annulled marriage in his immigration papers. (Morrocan-born, he came to this country in 1998.)
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau has begun removal proceedings against him, and Sgt. Benkabbou faces deportation if he returns to American soil. At press time, he remains on combat duty in Afghanistan.
Read the rest of this weeks Parade Magazine.
And now the comment:
I believe that I am not too different from most Americans in most ways. My ancestors were immigrants too. My Native American first ancestors probably arrived between 13,000 and 40,000 years ago (depends upon which authority you believe). My Scots ancestors arrived in the early 1700s, my English ancestors also arrived in the 1700s and the Danes not until 1868.
My wife is also an immigrant, she and her parents and siblings came here in 1963.
I am not anti-immigrant. I am not anti-Hispanic. I am not anti-Asian.
Having made those qualifications, I would like to state that I am very unhappy that our government has gone for decades failing to enforce our immigration laws. Our country is now Home, literally, to millions of people who have no legal right to be here.
Many of these people have been here for many years. They have children (who often were born here and are US citizens by birthright), they have jobs, they have houses or apartments.
Most, almost all, of the people who have come here without documents, violating our laws, are here seeking a better life for themselves and their families which they expect to earn through working at jobs which pay much more than similar non-technical jobs in India, China, Pakistan, Haiti, Chile, Peru, Guatemala, Salvador or Mexico will pay them.
Many if not all of the people coming here from our neighboring countries of Mexico or Central or South America are Native Americans who are discriminated against in their birth countries far beyond the discrimination which they experience here.
Still - there is no escaping the fact that these millions of people have violated our borders and our immigration laws, making of themselves criminals who are subject to apprehension and deportation under the laws of the United States.
Yet... our government, for decades, has pretended that they don't exist. The form I-9 which employers are required to complete for every person hired (which is to prove that the new hire has been checked for the right to work in the USA) are never audited.
So millions who have not complied, in even the smallest way, with our laws are ignored and are allowed to stay, pretty much unmolested, while contributing nothing other than taxes which would have been paid by an American legal resident who held the same job if the undocumented worker were not here.
Contrast this with the case of a man who has filled out the paperwork, paid the fees, and even volunteered to be part of our armed forces fighting our enemies in a serious war in a hostile country. He must have volunteered because we do not have a draft.
Does he get a pass on a technicality on his application to enter the country?
Not no..., but Hell No!
Is there a question which asks if you have had a marriage annulled before you emigrate? You know that there isn't.
There may be a question which asks if you have ever been married. But, an annulment is a dissolution of a marriage which says that you have not been married.
This man is being persecuted for a semantic issue. There are millions of people here who have not even been approved under any system for entry who are simply ignored while a person who has followed the law and become a productive and important member of our population is to be deported over an issue of definition of terms.
Where is the justice in this situation?
If you believe, as I do, that Sgt. Hicham Benkabbou deserves to be allowed to remain in this country as a valued addition to our population then please write to your representative and senators on his behalf.
The man tried to emigrate to the USA legally, and was admitted, that should guarantee him justice and not blind stupidity by the immigration people.
O.K. I'm stepping down from the soapbox now...