Can People Please Make Accurate Arguments

There’s a story in the news about a soon to be deported wife of a former Iraqi Vet, and also, the vet voted for Trump.  They’ve been married a long time (they have 16 and 8 year old daughters).  Her story is complicated by the fact that she has entered the U.S. illegally not once, but at least twice. The first time she was deported she signed a paper promising not to enter illegally again, and yet she did just a short time later. She says she was a teenager and was lied to about what she was signing and she didn’t speak English well enough to understand what she signed.  I can easily believe this to be true.  The problem is, I can also easily believe it to be what you would say if you changed your mind and needed to say something to make your previous promise go away.  Either way,  it’s a hard and sad story and I hate this for the kids especially.

But the world is a fallen and broken place full of hard and sad stories and we often are backed into a corner trying to come up with ideal solutions for things that are where they are because of less than ideal decisions made before us that we had no control over, and in an ideal world we would not need solutions at all.  And also, I get frustrated by the arguments on both sides.


Below are the typical twitter arguments and what I want to say to them.  The arguments are presented in no particular order and it’s my paraphrases, not exact quotes.

This doesn’t make sense. They’re married and he’s a citizen so she should be automatically granted a permanent residency (or citizenship, I’ve seen people insist this is The Rule both ways).  Something is fishy here.

See, that’s a Sandra Bullock movie, not a legal fact. Marriage to a citizen does not convey automatic residency rights to non-citizens. I don’t think it ever has in this country, or at least not for quite some now.  There are still processes to go through, questions to answer, facts to prove, hoops to jump.  It’s not fishy at all.  Happens all the time.  Maybe you think that’s how things should be, in which case, lobby your Congress critters to make it so, but some of you dismiss the story because you believed in an immigration fairy tale, and some of you want to blame the Trump administration for violating some imaginary status quo that never existed, and it’s super irksome on both sides. Forget about what you wish were true or what you’re willing to believe about Trump because you hate him and base your position in reality AS IT IS.

In fact, I did reply to three or four of these mistaken claims that marriage= legal status for illegal aliens and was told variously: thanks, that’s interesting, WHERE IS YOUR COMPASSION, so you’re just saying don’t fall in love with illegal aliens, right, and but what about Melania?

I am not making that up.

My replies: 1. you’re welcome, 2. in my left pinky toe which is obviously a larger compartment than the one for your logic 3. No, I didn’t say that, I just said that being married to a citizen is not automatic legal status for noncitizens 4. What? I have no idea what about Melania and I don’t care, either, but I do know she didn’t become a citizen just because she’s married to Trump. Sheesh.

Those were not all my replies, btw.  Especially not to the second question.  My answer to that was more along the lines of ‘I didn’t say anything about whether any of this is right or wrong or kind and good or evil. I just pointed out it’s an error to claim being married to a citizen conveyed any kind of legal resident status on her or anybody else.

I know I must be a cyborg compared to all the super feelings based emotional types on the internet, but I really just don’t even understand this approach.  Compassion has nothing to do with correcting this misinformation, it was merely a statement of what *is* to correct your statement about something that *is not*.

It’s not really compassionate, btw, to blather away about how marriage conveys citizenship so Trump is doing them dirty by denying her ‘right’ to stay when there is no such right or legal practice.  It’s bad advice, dangerous if somebody were stupid enough to trust you, and leading to a complacent sense of wellbeing in people who want to believe it’s true because it’s easier and sounds nice and comforting and how they wish things were.  But reality does not care about your comfort or your wishes.  Wherever you stand on immigration, and on this specific family and what’s happening to them, spouting things that are wrong about marriage conveying legal status automatically does not help anybody and facts are facts.

Tough luck, she had years to become a citizen and she didn’t do that.

I want a wall, but I hate this argument. It’s also wrong.  It really is not that easy. Becoming a citizen legally takes a lot of time and a lot of money, and they just might not have had enough of either.  Our legal pathway to citizenship is a lot more complicated and difficult than most people realize, and some people who think they want a wall wouldn’t want one at all if they realized how hard getting legal status is.

Furthermore, in her case, that piece of paper she signed promising not to return to the U.S. illegally probably stands between her and any attempt at the citizenship process.  She very well may not even have been eligible to try.

He’s served his country so she should automatically be granted citizenship.

On the one hand I am at first glance deeply sympathetic to this view.  On the other hand, after about ten seconds of thought I have to ask if you could join me in thinking about this more logically?  Can we stop and consider just why we might not to want to grant automatic legal status to just anybody who illegally enters the country and manages to snag a soldier?  Shouldn’t we investigate and be sure that people who have access to deployment plans and military bases are not here illegally?  Can you really not think of why that might be a good idea?  How soon might it be before a terrorist or a spy or fifty took advantage of these easy, careless, no questions or paperwork pathway to legal status?  Remember the active duty terrorist who shot up people at Ft. Hood?  What if he’d married an illegal alien?  There are reasons we vet would-be legal immigrants, and there are reasons people cross over illegally and not all of those reasons are because everybody crossing the border illegally is innocent.  That is a fact and a piece of reality that we have to consider .

Tough luck. He voted for Trump, so it serves them right.Deport them all.

And what a sweetheart you are.  So citizenship is something you would reserve only for people who vote the way you like, there are no other principles you hold to here?  That’s not a principle, and you and your ilk terrify me.


Oddly, this one often comes from the same people who are gloating over the family’s separation when they find out they supported Trump.  For me, I am a hard-eyed realist as well as a compassionate human being and what I wish is the case is far too often just not compatible with reality.  The real world, the world as it is, is a messy, complex, contradictory, and far from perfect place and sometimes we are trying to fix things, to unmake things, starting from a place we should not have to be at all.  I wish the family could stay together. I also wish she had obeyed the law all these years, and not crossed our borders illegally twice and already been deported (some stories say twice deported which is a bit excessive), and I wish she had given as much care and thought to her situation over the years as lots and lots of people are attempting to do now, and I wish there weren’t troublesome reasons why we need to vet people crossing our borders and I wish wishes were horses and that this family didn’t have to suffer.


This is no way to treat a war vet.

We can’t overlook the illegal behaviour of people based on who they married.  That isn’t compassion, it’s folly, and the sort of folly that can get people killed.

An unjust law is no law at all.

Sure.  But I do not believe that it is unjust for countries to have borders and laws about how to cross them and who may cross them and who can stay and how long.  Just stating unjust laws are bad doesn’t prove anything about this one.  That’s called begging the question, assuming as true the very point that you haven’t established is true at all ,the very point of discussion.

But it’s so sad.

Oh, it is.  It is very, very sad. I have to wonder why her illegal choices and his knowledge of them is now my fault, though.  They knew the risk they were taking, and I very much wish that had paid off for their kids, but I didn’t do this to them, and I’m not the cause of their suffering.  Start a go fund me to pay for transportation for the husband and teenager to join the family in Mexico, I’ll contribute.  Start a petition stating she has no other reasons to deny her citizenship and asking Trump to let her stay, and I’ll sign it.  Beat my chest and wear a hair shirt of guilt and agony over this, I will not. She broke the law and she knew she was breaking it and she knew she could be deported. So did he (he was also here illegally and he became a citizen just before joining the military).

But it’s not like nobody warned her she could be deported.  It had already happened, she knew it could happen again, and she chose that risk.  I’m not saying ‘well tough, she got what she deserved,’ but I am saying, “Why is this my fault?”

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