Monday, February 13, 2006

Washington Post: Hold On To Those Yearning to Breathe Free, We Need Ice Dancers

There is a clearly identified problem in this article, namely the outrageous and ridiculous double standard employed to distinguish between the applications of the two immigrants in question. The term 'ridiculous' is employed with a purpose, indicating that the sort of immigration policy highlighted by this story is worthy of ridicule.

Imagine this scenario:

A refugee from Sierra Leone and her attorney wait for hours in a crowded courthouse, after months of assembling what documents were available and testimony from what witnesses cared enough to help a familf as ravaged by war as their homeland. Now at the end of this long waiting, the small party is brought before the designated authority of the US Government who tells them, calmly if not without an ounce of consideration for their trouble, that a formal adoption paper, something that basically does not exist for refugees, is the only pertinent detail in the case. To appeal the issue further will take months of incalculable struggle against an indifferent system. But for a mother whose child is depening on her, there is no alternative.

At the same time across town, in a different part of the legal system, a quick break in the schedule in Congress confers citizenship on a young woman in a hurry. She has also been working for months, not on her paperwork to become an American, but on her ice dancing. Her citizenship has come just in time for her to leave her adopted country for Italy for a few weeks of glorious competition and revelry. She will never meet the young girl in Sierra Leone whose hope for the future is fading daily, unless perhaps she uses the protection of her status as an American to go to Africa with a volunteer organization, perhaps and IOC charity.

When that girl, who by then will have spent years mourning the war that took her first family from her and the cold and callous government that kept her from her second, realizes she has finally met an American she might ask about the best thing about life as an a citizen of the land of the free. Ice dancing in Italy.


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