Stanford University history professor Richard White knows that not every illegal immigrant speaks Spanish.
White found that his grandfather tried to immigrate from Ireland through Canada in 1936 because he could not get a visa under the quota laws.As White argued in a 2006 article, our public discourse on immigration should focus less on abstract principles and more on the concrete, complicated practices that shaped family histories like his own.
"He tried to come through Detroit. It was hard to get caught at Detroit, but he managed to get caught," White said. Back in Canada, his grandfather called his brother, a Chicago police officer, who crossed the border and met him there. The two then walked to Detroit, his brother flashing his Chicago policeman's badge to U.S. customs officers who waved the pair through.
"I wouldn't be here, my brothers wouldn't be here if illegal aliens had been rounded up and dragged out," said White, a 1992 Pulitzer Prize finalist. [Link]
My other grandfather nearly got deported back to Russia, where he was born, for crimes of "moral turpitude," until he became, as my father liked to say, the only Democrat ever pardoned by Herbert Hoover. My wife's father spent his last demented year in Arizona trying to persuade his wife to rent a jackhammer to cut into their slab foundation and hide the money from the Mexicans, whom he thought were about cross the border en masse. My brother-in-law was born in Mexico, and became a citizen in the last amnesty.
I consider myself part of a pretty normal American family.