La Mariposa en la Pared

The everyday experiences of latino immigrants through the eyes of an outsider. Las vidas típicas de unos inmigrantes latinos a través de los ojos de una forastera.

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Location: Upstate NY, United States

"To me it’s always interesting when you get accepted somewhere you don’t really belong. It’s interesting when people open up and let you in their world." - Gilles Mingasson

Monday, January 07, 2008

Breakin' the Law

I'm a felon... in Oklahoma.

No one who knows me would ever guess that I belong behind bars. But I prefer to live a life that makes the lives of others better in some way. There is no greater tragedy than turning our backs on people who live in need among us, and it seems so unreal that American laws would encourage just that. Serving others without regard for where they were born, befriending people without first asking to see their documents, is just part of being human.
One who breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sometimes humanitarian needs trump immigration law.
- Joe Biden

7 Comments:

Blogger Astrodon Johnstoni said...

I am an immigration lawyer from Columbia (the city in Maryland, not COLOMBIA). One day I was out with my two young kids, my Eritrean paralegal, and his friend in Columbia and we were talking about the city's history of integration. I mentioned that my interracial parents moved to Columbia when their marriage was still against the law in Virginia. My daughter asked how come they got married if it was against the law. I thoughtlessly responded well, if a law is unjust, you have a duty to break it. I had no idea how much of an impression that idle comment had on them until that friend later approached me as an asylum client.

1/07/2008 2:57 PM  
Blogger janna said...

I do understand that we tend to make such statements, believing them to be true, without necessarily grasping the gravity of it at the moment. I, for example, have never known oppression for the postitions I take on immigration. I've not been arrested or imprisioned (not yet, at least.. yikes). It's easy for me to say I'm breaking unjust laws and willing to face the consequences of my actions, when there are no legal consequences of them here in NY. I can live free to associate with whomever I choose, for now. That law in OK is frightening, though, and I see it as a very real threat to our human freedoms.
Thank you for your comments here. I appreciate the insights of one who understands the hard legal aspects of human migration and the pursuit of life & happiness - things that are so difficult to regulate.

1/07/2008 3:31 PM  
Blogger John said...

Henry David Thoreau once said, “If one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men... if one HONEST man, in this State of Massachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to [disobey civilly], and be locked up in the county jail therefore, it would be the abolition of slavery in America. For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever.”

Jenna, I really appreciate this post of yours. Down here on the border, we are planning a 120 mile anti-border-wall walk in March. It isn't breaking the law yet (a lot has to be tried first before we can legitimately call for civil disobedience), but it is nonviolent direct action. Will you join us?

1/07/2008 8:28 PM  
Blogger Martín Bolívar said...

A good post with words, with the thinks of Martín Luther King. Excelent.

1/08/2008 5:58 PM  
Blogger janna said...

John, I would love to march with you. Who's planning it? I have only seen the border twice - once from the sky at night. It looks so different from there.

Martín, thank you for your kind words. Good to see you.

1/08/2008 6:25 PM  
Blogger John said...

Janna,

If you want more information, I blogged about it at http://nonviolentmigration.wordpress.com. It's going to be from March 8 - 16th.

In order to sign up, you could follow this link:

http://www.mysignup.com/noborderwallwalk

1/15/2008 12:16 AM  
Blogger janna said...

John, you do Nonviolent Migration? I know your blog! Great, thank you for the info. I'll add you to my blogroll, too, while I'm at it.

1/15/2008 9:55 AM  

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