Since starting Tiny Cat Pants, I’ve dropped acid. Just once, because, you know, I’m a giant nerd and the feeling of being hot and somewhat nauseous and too full of orange juice outweighed the mild hallucinations I’m pretty sure I could have had if I’d just forced myself to stay up until four in the morning without drugs. I don’t know. Maybe I did it wrong.
But I did it to impress a boy (no, not that one), which, of course, failed. And have never done it again (drugs or impressed a boy, I’m afraid).
Didn’t get caught, though.
Am I a criminal?
I have a couple of relatives who were alleged drug dealers in their younger days. One stole a great deal of money from the other, because he allegedly knew the other couldn’t report it because a similar amount of money was allegedly missing from a local bar. (It appears to me that the statute of limitations on most felonies in Illinois is three years, but I’d still like to be careful.)
That amount of money was enough to pay his way out of state and allow him to start his life over as a non-drug-dealer, for which we are all grateful.
He hasn’t dealt drugs in ten years. He’s never robbed anyone since.
Is he a theif? A drug dealer?
According to the law, he’s not. He committed those crimes years ago and has gotten on with his life.
Why then, do we talk about illegal immigration differently? There are very few crimes one cannot outwait the stigma of. One might be considered a murderer or a rapist or a child molester for life, even if one only committed that crime once.
But theivery, tresspassing, car stealing, even assault are all crimes we can commit once, in our youth, and if we go on to become productive members of society (shit, if we just cease to be unproductive members of society) and, if enough time passes, we don’t have to fear being prosecuted any more. We’re not “illegals.”
Why, then, do immigrants who enter the country illegally have to bear the burden of being considered “illegals”? I’ve been looking through the federal statute and it’s clear that entering the country is illegal and faking documents in order to stay here and work is illegal. But those both appear to be crimes that have a statute of limitations of ten years.
It also appears to me that, if one could come here and stay off the .gov’s radar for a decade–not working, not using taxpayer funded programs, just laying low, you’d be in a weird situation where you’d be in the country without proper documentation, but the goernment could not prosecute you for being here.
I guess I don’t really have a point except to say that it seems like calling them “illegals” as if they’re all in a state of constate illegality, as opposed to someone who did something once a long time ago, is an insidious debate strategy.