Sophomoric Reasoning

It’s been a while since the Boston Glob ran another illegal alien sob story, so I guess this one is overdue.

Short version: 19-year-old Eric was born in Mexico, but his mother brought him here illegally when he was four. He did quite well in American schools — well enough to be valedictorian and get a full scholarship to Harvard. And then, while visiting family in Texas, he went to board a plane home and was caught by immigration — and now faces deportation.

This, of course, is the cue to bring up the “Dream Act” — the idea of offering in-state tuition and other breaks to illegal aliens.

Sorry, my sympathy level is pretty low here.

Eric seems like a highly intelligent young man. But there are a few things in his account that raise my suspicions and decrease my sympathy.

First up, he’s 19. That means he’s been a legal adult for at least a year. What steps has he taken, as an adult, to correct his illegal status? Before 18, he was a minor and really can’t be held accountable. But once he’s legally an adult, it’s his problem to fix.

Second, he said he lost his Mexican passport. What the story says is that it was most likely expired. I don’t think any country issues a passport that’s valid for 15 years, especially to a child. And if not, then the new passport would have marked him as an illegal alien, as it would have lacked the documentation as having entered the country legally.

Third, this was his flight back to Boston. How many other times did he fly (as in, “got through airport security”) without valid ID?

Fourth, he is majoring in biology. What did he plan to do with his degree? He can’t legally work in the United States, after all.

Fifth, this story makes it clear that his mother is also an illegal alien. Has anyone offered her a free trip home?

Eric’s situation is sad, and it wasn’t his fault.

But neither was it ours. It’s not our obligation to fix it for him. If we choose to right the wrong done to him by his mother, then it should be properly labeled as an act of compassion, not justice.

And even then, I have reservations. When governments act out of motivations such as “compassion” or “sympathy,” it almost always ends up badly for all concerned.

The law is the law. If Eric wanted the law changed, he could have fought it. Or he could have worked within the system to get his legal situation squared away. It is always preferable to face such problems on your own terms, rather than hoping to not get caught.

Because when that happens, it inevitably goes worse for you.

As Eric is finding out.

(Sorry, title added VERY late. And not one of my best efforts. Sorry…)

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