The following Letter to the Editor appeared in the Marietta Daily Journal on Monday, July 28, 2008.

Re: Rich Pellegrino letter, “’Inalienable rights’ apply to immigrants, too” Thursday’s MDJ

Mr. Pellegrino makes a lot of interesting presumptions about illegal immigration and what it means for this nation. He talks about his own grandparents who he says were “illegal” and “undocumented.” While I don’t know the facts of their immigration, given the time frame during which they would have probably immigrated, it’s unlikely that they sneaked into this country.

No one can deny we are a nation of immigrants. My family immigrated to North Carolina in 1711. My wife and I are currently working on the paperwork by which she will shed her German citizenship in favor of the right to be called an “American.”

Those documents which Mr. Pellegrino quotes are part of the heritage my family was here to see created and the heritage that my wife will be adopted into. Where Mr. Pellegrino errs is he stops with the words, “the pursuit of happiness.” He seems to forget the rest of the line, “That to secure these rights, Governments
are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

When we instituted our government, we instituted the laws that shape and form the very structures which have governed us. When we drafted the Constitution and required all of our elected officials to swear an oath to it rather than a person or office, we said that our highest allegiance is not to an individual or position, but to the structure of laws that define our Republic.

Mr. Pellegrino would put on equal footing those who would thumb their nose at our law with those immigrants who have waited and struggled and sacrificed to come here legally. Immigration is not an easy road, especially for two newly married college students like my wife and I were. When one slip-up resulted in her being sent back to German for the entire first year of our marriage, the temptation was there to bring her back across the boarder illegally and undocumented. But we didn’t. Instead we waited.

The reason that the majority of good Americans, and especially the vast majority of newly immigrated Americans, don’t agree with Mr. Pellegrino is because most of them understand that we don’t swear our allegiance to a “prince or potentate,” but to our highest law, to protect and defend. It doesn’t seem right to them that someone should be welcomed into our American family who sought to be part of it by breaking its laws in the first place.

Jason Shepherd
PDF of newspaper page can be downloaded here.

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