For four long years now, a relative of Civil War General Phillip Sheridan (also known as the Father of Yellowstone National Park, and an engineer of the South's Reconstruction) has lived as an undocumented immigrant in Queens.
He recently contacted the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform to share his story. We will follow his story and introduce you to him in person when comprehensive immigration reform is passed and he gets the chance to earn his way to legal status.
Congress wants to brand this close relative of a prominent American as a felon simply because he overstayed a visa. He is not a criminal. He is a victim of a broken immigration system.
The real wrong here is the history of inaction on immigration by the Know-Nothings in the House. For six years they sat idle, but for the occassional tough-talking accomplish-nothing press statement about border security. Now, instead of seizing the opportunity to pass comprehensive immigration reform, they hold cynical stall and delay hearings hoping to divisive anti-immigrant rhetoric will stir up the "base" and motiviate them to the polls. They mask their Know-Nothing rhetoric with scary smoke screen of "border security."
After six years of doing nothing, the House Know-Nothings propose to criminalize the undocumented people that came in and built lives here while the Know-Nothings looked the other way on immigration.
House Know-Nothings must really know nothing if they can honestly complain that the Senate Bill's plan to provide a path to legal status is an administrative nightmare in one breath and then exhale in the next breath that their enforcement-only plan (which would require rounding up 12 million (50,000 Irish) people, separating families and wholesale deportation) will run with silky smooth efficiency.
Perhaps they know that so-long as voters are focused on blaming undocumented immigrants, they won't notice how little has been accomplished while the House Know-Nothings were in power.
Don't let the same people who fell asleep at the switch in 2001 and have yet to wake up when it comes to protecting this nation get away with doing nothing but issuing more silly technicolor warnings and blaming the undocumented Irish for problems that have nothing to do with the immigration status of the undocumented Irish. The undocumented Irish just want a chance continue to make a life for themselves in this country as they have been doing for years and as their ancestors, like General Philip Sheridan have done for generations.
It is curious that a relative of General Phillip Sheridan, who felt compelled to conceal his Irish roots to avoid the anti-Irish smears of the Know-Nothings of his day, must live in the shadows and face similar empty and irrational anti-immigrant rhetoric as he tries to make an honest life for himself in America.