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home : opinions : opinions May 28, 2016

2/8/2011 1:23:00 PM
Birth right bill statement by Rep. Albert Hale
Arizona State Rep. Albert Hale
Arizona State Rep. Albert Hale

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, temptest-lost to me."

These words are what welcomed over 25 million people who arrived as immigrants at Ellis Island and the Port of New York between 1802 and 1924. Ironically, these people were offered immediate citizenship with a simple medical exam and signing of a ledger while those who already inhabited this land. Native Americans were still not considered citizens.

In fact, because this current effort will consider children of illegal immigrants as also illegal or undocumented then I, too, fall into this category - that I am an illegal, but I am not. I am Diné. My ancestors are inhabitants of this land from time immemorial.

As Diné, my grandfather was not a citizen, and my mother who was born in 1919 was not a citizen. Native Americans were not declared citizens of the United States until 1924. This means according to this proposed legislation, I am the child of a non-citizen and therefore illegal. Am I to be deported? If I am to be deported, where am I going to be deported to?

The history of the United States has been largely one of continuously expanding the community of people regarded as Americans. We have taken pride and boasted of our model of assimilation as the "melting pot" - a country of multiple ethnicities, races, languages, and beliefs. We have never denied citizenship to any group of children born in the U.S., even when we denied citizenship to their parents, as we did Asian immigrants from 1882 to 1943.

This expansive view of who is an American has been critical to our success and our foundation. The issue is not the children of illegal immigrants. The issue is our broken immigration system that is out of touch with labor needs and separates families due to the unbelievably long waiting time for consideration of citizenship.

We should not punish the children of undocumented immigrants for their parents' actions. Doing so will create a class of children who are "stateless" and without a country. This will create a class of people who are not welcome where they were born and not welcome in the country that they supposedly are tied to. This is not a solution.

If it is to be done, then it must apply to every border and not just the southern border of our state. It must be applied to every race. And, if it is to be done then we must take down the Statue of Liberty because her words are no longer true. And, if it is to be done then we are a state of the Middle Ages, where children were punished for the crimes of their parents and born into servitude. This is not the Arizona I know, and not a state that we can be proud of. This is not the Arizona I want.

The word "immigration" now causes anger and fear for many people. But immigration has a face - a human face. It is the face of all your grandparents and relatives who came here for a better life. It is a face of wanting more for your children than what you have. It is a face of determination, will and hope. And we must address this issue with the human face of compassion and understanding.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: William Rucker

Rep. Hale, I wish more politicians would have all the information on the table before they talk and in act new laws. You have considered a great deal from the past. Our elected officials and the media should do the same. The public is to lazy to search our history, review our laws, consider the actions and re actions. The public then relies solely on the media and the spin doctors for their facts. We are becoming a nation of brain washed robots. Thank you Mr. hale

Posted: Monday, April 25, 2011
Article comment by: New England

Mr Hale's logic makes no sense to me. It is my understanding that being a legal immigrant to the United States does not make you a citizen, but your children who are born here will be.

It is also my understanding that the Hopi ancestors asked permission for entry into Hopi villages and that many times the village elders would ask questions like "What do you have that can benefit us?" before they gave permission for the people to enter the village.

As the son of legal immigrants to the United States from Ireland during the 1950's this concept of asking people that would like to enter the United States, what they have to offer the country makes perfect sense and I am puzzled why the Hopi tradition is not the policy of the country.

Posted: Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Article comment by: excuuuse me?

Mr. Hale, REALLY? Being a senator, I seriously doubt you are in any danger of deportation (hello!)..however, I feel you should be more supportive of U.S. Citzens and open your eyes to see this economy is surviving one the imports of other countries. Can you walk into any stores and find 10 items that are manufactured and made in America?? I think the law needs to be reviewed but not to allow illegals to have citizenship rights. We must think of our country first and foremost if we are ever going to improve our budget deficiet. As it stands, we spend more money supporting other countries than we do our own. Let's think out of the box now Mr. Hale and make some serious and wise choices before it's too late!

Posted: Monday, February 28, 2011
Article comment by: ALAN FISCHER


Posted: Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Article comment by: Disgusted disgusted

Mr Hale is talking to the wrong crowd he needs to be talking with his fellow republican colleagues in the legislator and impress upon them these views. He was voted in to do just that. I believe he is taking a cheaper route attempting to demonstrate to people in the north, where his views might be more warmly welcomed but the fact of the matter is he is a legislator supposedly there to represent our best interest and fight for our rights. If you ever attend any of the legislative sessions, he unfortunately by most people's standards is very quiet and doesn't say much, and or is absent during critical sessions. Up here he comes across as if he's the authority, but the fact remains he is a follower among his legislative colleagues and not the star as he oftentimes tries to paint himself as. Disgusted

Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Article comment by: Rick Wapaha

When you really look into this article and do your history and start doing assumptions, our great grandparents were NOT citizens of this USA. It's crazy. He's making a point that why should they pass something thats affecting every walk of life. And yes, the border towns are seeing this first hand. I've been there. I have chased these illegals off our property too. Dine' Warrior i think your not who you claim to be and to Miss America, i feel you, cause i too see it in our IHS hospitals. It's sickening. Before we say anything listen and research we have to make our voices heard!!

Posted: Monday, February 14, 2011
Article comment by: Dine' Warrior

As a Dine' born in Arizona, I am extremely disgusted with Albert Hale's position on "Illegal Foreigners"..they are not "immigrants!" Hale, its politicians like you that have created this disaster on the tax paying Americans who have to foot insane bills that support other nations and "illegals" in our counrtry. As a Native American, I do not in the least consider myself an alien in my own country, which I have given 28 years of my life defending.

Posted: Friday, February 11, 2011
Article comment by: Ashem Dayea


Posted: Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Article comment by: miss america

No disrespect to elders, but those who don't live near the southern border nor pay taxes to cities and states bordering the US, have no idea of the impact of illegal immigration and the bearing "anchor babies". These illegals have already penetrated the I.H.S. healthcare system....or maybe you haven't noticed? Education is another issue as well as public services....Why doesn't "their" country pay the US for the HUGE bill left by illegals? (ALL illegals/immigrants). Compassion and understanding only goes so far...but the deficit is never in the black.

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