Personal Histories Vs. Public Duty
June 05, 2007, 06:11 PM
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Here's Senator Pete Domenici, talking about a childhood run-in with the immigration authorities:

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.

I wish to tell about both my parents who came to this country as aliens. … They were told that my mother was a citizen once they got married because my father was a citizen. He became a citizen because he served in the First World War. He came over at the turn of the century and was drafted into the First World War.

It turned out that the lawyer gave them wrong advice, and my mother was not a citizen. She raised her children here and lived here as a … model citizen.

Then one day during the Second World War, she was arrested by several men who came in black cars to the backdoor while we four children were playing with marbles, or whatever we did. In came the people, the agents that work for the U.S., saying this lady was an illegal alien and she should be arrested. … By evening, my poor mother was released because she had a good lawyer.

A lot of people don't have that, and we know what happens to them under our laws.

Personal histories shape immigration views - USATODAY.com

While I assume Mrs. Domenici was harmless, here's something USA TODAY has omitted from Senator Domenici's personal story of illegal immigration—the fact that his mother was technically a citizen of the Kingdom of Italy, a country that, during WWII, was actually at war with the United States. [NOTE: I had originally written that the Senator had omitted this—actually it's in his floor statement. It's the newspaper that, tellingly, left it out. The point stands, however.]

Immigration enthusiasts think that immigration laws should be enforced only against enemy aliens, not against "busboys" or other illegal workers doing jobs formerly done by Americans.

Now Senator Domenici doesn't want them enforced even against enemy aliens. If he can't separate his public duty from his family feeling, he might consider abstaining from voting on the immigration bill, like a judge who recuses himself because of personal interest.