Knock Before Entering, Please

Someone was coming for dinner, and Mariellen needed a few last minute things.  So I went to the store while she stayed at home at her post at the cutting board: cutting, chopping, slicing, building.  I would help with that later.

I turned off the back road from our place onto the larger road feeding into the place, Somerset Plaza, where the store was.  I noticed a “prowl car” parked on the side of the road and pedestrians walking in the direction of the shopping plaza.  There is a hotel behind it.  I wondered if they were guests at the hotel out for a stroll on a quiet afternoon.  I also noticed the police officer in the prowl car looking at me as I drove by.  He was so young.  He looked as if he was trying to be interested, as if this was the most important thing anyone would do today; sit at the side of an old road and wait.

In a very short while, I left the little road I was on for the main one and realized why the young man was there, why the people were walking.  Ahead, at the traffic light a quarter mile away, bunched in a heap on the side of the intersection furthest from the hotel possibly a hundred people were standing.  They held signs and banners.  Some pumped their arms in the air.  Some waved at passing cars.  Many simply stood, and a few seemed to be talking to each other.  Along both sides of the road leading to the intersection a forest of political posters were stuck into the ground advertising the names of candidates for various local and state offices.  Though I don’t consider myself politically wise at all, I am neither naive or ignorant.  I recognized the names and knew that they were all Republican candidates for some office or other.

In about the time it took you to read the last sentence I was abreast of the small crowd, the sign holders, the standers and the wavers.

Some kind of political rally was going on.  One sign, no two signs, caught my attention.  One of them read “NO PERSON SHOULD BE ILLEGAL”.  Another one was a simple banner behind which stood three or four women of a certain age.  It simply announced that the Sisters of Mercy were for open borders.  Though I have no way of knowing, I think that the women were members of that community.

As I continued past them I realized that the women and everyone else were there because Joseph Arpaio, Sheriff of Maricopa County, AZ, was in my home town to give a speech to Republicans.  He’s become rather notorious in some circles because of his treatment of what used to be called “illegal” immigrants.  The preferred term today is “undocumented aliens”.

I know Mr. Arpaio.  Years ago, when we were both Federal Agents, I worked with him and for him.  When the media describe the fellow as tough I do not understand what they mean.  But, if they used the words, blunt, forceful, direct and clever, and described him as being convinced that enforcement of the law is something that doesn’t admit of nuance, then I would understand that as an accurate description of the fellow.  He believed then that people who broke the drug laws should be investigated and arrested.  If arrested they should be prosecuted, and if convicted sentenced, and while in jail punished.  He does not seem to have changed that point of view in regard to people who have violated the laws regarding immigration.

And, so, he, and those who think like him, have run up against people who believe that there is more to consider in this whole problem, except that Joe Arpaio has become somewhat of a lightning rod for the folks who don’t think his position is the right one.

I think he’d find that amusing.  I know I do, and every time I see the fellow’s picture, I smile.  I remember the rumpled, rough talking Narc with a cigar stuck in his mouth, cigar ash and coffee stains on his suit and a no nonsense attitude about the job he was doing: keeping the lid on the garbage can.

I smile, too, when I see pictures of groups of people like the nice looking women behind the sign which read Sisters of Mercy and think about the job they, some of them, do, or used to do, with the poor girls from the Irish neighborhoods and the French ones and the Italian ones, years ago.

When I returned from my grocery run, and our guest had come, I asked him what he thought about it all.  Something he said struck me as interesting.  “The bishops have said that a country has the right to protect its borders.”  Sheriff Arpaio certainly believe that’s what he is doing.  Lots and lots of folks believe a lot of other people aren’t doing the same thing.

Those women on the street might agree with the bishops.  I think they’d add, though, that a country, or the people in it, have a duty to others which trumps the right.

Now, here’s the thing which puzzles me, really:  I wonder why both of them have to be doing here in these Untied States, the things they are doing; locking up wandering “undocumented aliens” on the one hand and on the other hand scolding the folks who do that.

Do you know?


About Peadar Ban

There isn't much to say. I am here. I am here. I am here.
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11 Responses to Knock Before Entering, Please

  1. mike b says:

    Easy question. Because this is the greatest country in the world. It’s not heaven (no borders there I believe). But still the best in this world.

    • Peadar Ban says:

      Hello Mike,

      Nice to hear from you. I think I posed a sort of “both/and” question about this thing. I accept as a given the fact that this place attracts folks like honey does bears, or warm bodies attract mosquitos, because, well, think about it.

      Is it simply because of that old saying, “In the great boarding house of the universe the pancakes, butter and syrup never come out even.”? Then, how great is the obligation of the bee to the bear, of me to the mosquito, of these Untied States to the “huddled masses”? And, when do we swarm from the hive and sting, or start to spray?

      Are there any conditions for the former? Are there no circumstances when, in justice, we may apply the latter?

      Finally, is it all and only “our” problem? Back on El Rincon does anything matter? And if it does, who’s responsible?


  2. mike b says:

    Hi back Peter and likewise
    Yes, we have a great thing going here and have for over 200+ years. I understand where your friend is coming from though. “Hey! You don’t want me to enforce this law?? Then change the law! Or don’t pass such dumb laws in the first place and waste my time to boot.”
    What I’ve always like about the good ole U.S.ofA. is that its citizens have been a pretty practical bunch (idealism notwithstanding). When the country needed citizens (and immigrants were flooding Ellis Island), the Yankees and blue-bloods said, “Yes, these honest, hard-working people are “legal”.” In the years running up to the Civil War, when the northeast was building a manufacturing base (and the Irish were dying in droves in the old country), the Brahmins thoughtfully allowed that we could use some “new blood” (and braun) in the country. Very practical.

    So I think the rational (not the emotional) response to today’s “illegal” immigration problem is “Does this do the country any practical good?” Maybe this is too cold for some people (you passionate ones out there, you know who you are). But what do expect from a blog called Ruthlessly Honest???

    • Peadar Ban says:

      Mike, I like your question. My follow up to it might be, “What is the “this” we are talking about?”

      I am the furthest thing from an historian that one can be, but I am reasonably sure that immigrants did not begin to flood Ellis Island until a few decades after most of the Irish had come over here during the Famine and its immediate aftermath. But, I’ll give you points for your comment about the industrialists using what raw materials they had. I wonder if that way of thinking has changed?

      • mike b says:

        I’m not a historian either. But I think my post does say that the Irish migrated here “…in the years running up to the Civil War” which I hope we all know began in 1860. Actually, I believe there was quite a bit of Irish immigration to America even before the potato famine (1845 I think). Any how, I’m no New Yorker either but the hey-day of Ellis Island was much later. I think I know that!?? I always think of Italians, and other southern Mediterranean folks when I think of Ellis Island. Sorry if my post left the wrong impression.

        ~Take time to read!

      • Peadar Ban says:

        Well, you have me on not reading closely. No need to apologize, I think.

        Actually, my father’s ‘rents came through Ellis Island, and so did most of my first wife’s family.

        Anyway, I kind of think you and Gabriel are closer than you think, at least as I “scan” both your posts. 🙂

  3. Gabriel Austin says:

    The question is a political one to be settled politically. Which is to say to decide how many immigrants the country can accept. There is much to be said for the argument that those who have worked to become “legal” should have a preference. But then there is Our Lord’s parable about the late comers to the vineyards.
    The great danger of illegal residence in this [or any other country] is that it leaves the sans papiers open to all sorts of blackmail. This is not merely a Hispanic problem. There are enclaves of Irish illegals, in the Bronx for example, who are hesitant to show their noses out of doors. And there are numerous instances of suicide among these sans papiers. The Republicans are demonstrating their usual stupidity and ignorance by making a ruckus about the subject; this from the party which protected the slaves against their generally Democratic “owners”. The bishops in general are making asses of themselves, not coming up with practical suggestions. Mahony of Los Angeles goes to Washington to make a stir about Arizona instead of seeing to the harsher California laws.
    Mike, I think the moral question is not whether it is good for the country, so long as it is not bad. Can you think of an example when immigration has been bad? [By the way, “dumb” is not a synonym for “stupid”. When you mean stupid, say stupid].

    • Peadar Ban says:

      Dear Gabriel,

      Thank you for your well thought out reply. I wonder whether Cardinal Mahoney does what he does because he presides over a predominantly Latin-American body of believers and fears losing them to something or other if he doesn’t fall into lock step with La Raza.. It is stupid if he makes that a part of his reason. (having heard you before on “stupid and dumb” I will not make that mistake.)

    • mike b says:

      I’m not talking about the moral question. I often don’t talk about the moral question. See Matthew 7:1. In terms of “dumb”, please be advised that when I have a (generally made up) quote – as in “Hey! You don’t want me to enforce … etc.” I am using words that a (generally made up) person would use them. Not the way I myself would use them. Also, I’m afraid you’ll find me a bit like Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty … “When I use a word … it means just what I choose it to mean.” There! Did I pass your mustard for command of the English language?

  4. alan login says:

    This kind of outrage can only occur with a morally bankrupt democratic (small d ) congress which allows the justice dept to bully their own citizens (states ) … this alone should be enough motivation to vote them out next month ( i cant wait ..i’m pretending its already Oct )…btw ..who DONT u know..?…love alan

    • Peadar Ban says:

      To give the DOJ its due, there are probably some attorneys down there who worry about the states usurping , what’s the phrase, probably something like “powers reserved to the federal government”. I figure that’s what the fight is about. The same thing would have happened had the other guys controlled congress and everything else there. It’s a states rights vs. DC kind of thing.

      Now the investigation of Arpaio and his sheriff’s department is another thing. That’s muscling him in an attempt to muzzle him. Again its probably policy driven. The poor little provincial doesn’t see the big picture, whatever that is. i have come to believe that no one has ever seen the bid (nice typo…full of hints of skullduggery) picture..whatever that is (and I have my suspicions about it…yours are probably the same ones.)

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