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A modest proposal

Nancy Goldstein - Raw Story columnist
Published: Saturday April 22, 2006

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Men behaving badly and immigrants marching for their rights have dominated the headlines for a solid month now. When we're not gawking at footage of crowds thronging the streets from LA to DC, and even Lake Worth, Florida and Garden City, Kansas, we're watching some white guy do the perp walk.

Critics of immigration reform do a lot of squawking about how we shouldn't be rewarding "criminals" who've broken the law with "amnesty," and about how bad porous borders are for national security. But what good are barbed wire fences and felony penalties when felons already run your nation in the form of gainfully employed high-level executives, government officials, and lobbyists? And who knows more about "amnesty" than the sons of privilege who have kept their jobs -- and even been rewarded -- while enlisted folks and staff people take the heat for everything from torture at Abu Ghraib to the breaking of the levees?

My modest proposal, if implemented correctly, could resolve the dilemmas raised by both of these critical social phenomenon in one fell swoop. Why don't we swap skanky guys who flout the law for hard-working immigrants who want nothing more than US citizenship and a shot at a better life?

Let's start with DC's former favorite lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, who was recently sentenced to nearly six years in prison for his role in the fraudulent purchase of SunCruz Casinos, and has pleaded guilty to bilking Indian tribes and buying congressmen. Why not strip this greedy despoiler of the American political system of his citizenship, and give it to Ianca Cuevas and her family instead? They're dying to make an honest living.

Cuevas crossed into the US while pregnant and accompanied by her husband and three small children, because she was concerned for their future. Now they live in El Paso where Cuevas cleans houses six days a week for $35 a day. Her 10-year-old daughter, Ana, wants to be a doctor, but the odds are against her. Only 48% of undocumented children who graduate high school go to college, and the fact that Ana has no social security number means that she can't apply for financial aid.

Laura Castro, who came from Columbia to live with her mother in VA six years ago and never went back, will defy those odds and attend Virginia Commonwealth University this fall as a pre-med. But despite her 4.13 GPA and her membership in the National Honor Society, she'll pay out-of-state tuition and will not be eligible for any scholarships or grants.

So what about giving Laura one of those Duke Lacrosse team players' scholarships -- and their citizenship as well? Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty won't be spending a lot of time in class for a while, what with those first-degree rape, first-degree sex offense, and first-degree kidnapping charges. Heck, Collin hasn't even started the 25 hours of community service he was supposed to have performed for pleading no contest to that assault charge this past November, when he and some buddies gay-baited a guy in DC, then hit him in the face and body when he asked them to stop and tried to walk away.

It makes perfect sense to swap Donald Rumsfeld, who has yet to take responsibility for the war crimes he authorized at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, or his part in the quagmire that is Iraq, for Y.C. Dong. The father of three was seeking asylum from China's one-child policy when he fled to America on the ill-fated "Golden Venture" that ran aground off the coast of Queens, NY in 1993.

After an immigration judge ruled that Dong's fear of persecution under China's one-child policy was only "subjective," he was shipped back to China, where he was detained, beaten, fined, and sterilized. Undeterred, Dong has smuggled back into the US. He's working 72 hours a week as a cook in a Chinese restaurant working off the $50,000 he borrowed from relatives to pay his smugglers, and applying for asylum once more.

If the Donald-for-Dong deal doesn't look like a go, could we at least keep Dong and deport Doyle, that nice former Department of Homeland Security spokesman who has been charged with seven counts of solicitation of a minor and 16 counts of transmitting pornographic material to a minor?

Or Tony C. Rudy, DeLay's former deputy chief of staff, who has already pleaded guilty to helping Abramoff buy off congressmen?

Or a Commander-in-Chief who spies on American citizens, lets the perpetrator of 9/11 get away while he chases Saddam, and allows his people to die in the flooded streets of New Orleans while courting the "pro-life" vote?

The possibilities, sad to say, are endless.


Nancy Goldstein can be reached at [email protected]. Her next column will appear on Thursday, May 11th.