Dear Illegal Mexican Immigrant:

I happened upon this painting last January in a restaurant near Juxtlahuaca in southern Mexico.

I posted this back when the Immigration Reform Act of 2007 was being discussed in congress. If the law had passed, it would have provided  a pathway to citizenship for undocumented Mexican aliens.

Dear illegal Mexican immigrant,

Let me say right up front that I understand. I’ve seen poverty, and I don’t mean fake American-style poverty. You know, the tragedy and degradation of having to borrow a stockpot, buy some beans and hamburger, and find a recipe book.

I’ve seen the kind of poverty that drove you to leave everything you know and love, make a perilous journey, and live as an outlaw in a strange, unknown country. You were desperate for the opportunity to work hard and provide for your children.

Compassion and understanding are uniquely American qualities, because most Americans are only a few generations removed from being you: A member of the “huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.”

So, here is my pledge to you. If you love the USA, I will pray that some way, somehow – if you work, wait, and sacrifice as our forefathers did – one day you will become an American.

But if you don’t love the USA, I will pray that you go home.

If you love the USA, I hope you’ll watch John Wayne movies, have Super Bowl parties, and barbecue hotdogs on the fourth of July.

Maybe your children will even join the Boy Scouts, 4H, and win blue ribbons at the County Fair.

You might even feel goofy because you choke up every time you hear Lee Greenwood sing God Bless the USA.

And you will brighten our lives with your traditional food, music, love of family, and example of thrift and hard work.

But if you don’t love the USA, America-haters will find you and fill your head with spiteful thoughts, causing you to devour the fruits of American compassion and then demand more and more.

And you will be a ready and willing tool for phony and weak-willed politicians to pervert and cheapen our democratic system of laws.

But if you love the USA, I pray that generations yet unborn – your descendants and mine – will one day be bound together in shared pride of our adopted heritage, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and all the rest.

And I hope my descendants work their tails off to keep up with yours in school, athletics, arts, college admissions, and careers. Because there is nothing more American than good honest competition, and those kids are going to pay our Social Security checks some day.

And one day those kids will join with ours to agonize over immigration policy and the rule of law. And they will understand that ignoring lawlessness — even to escape poverty and desperation — threatens the stability of our culture. And our very existence is threatened if we don’t know every individual who comes into our country.

If you love the USA, you will turn away from those who want to make you a hyphenated American, whispering divisive words that squelch brotherhood, understanding, and empathy.

You will see America as Ronald Reagan did, a shining city on a hill, and you would die to defend and protect her – the greatest symbol of democracy and freedom in the world.

If you love the USA, I will pray that some day you will be my neighbor.

But if you don’t love the USA, I pray with all my heart that that you will go home and never come back.

Sincerely,   A Proud American

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