My son was beaten and stabbed a few nights ago.
By a group of young immigrants.
I’ve spent my career defending immigrants. My commitment faces constant criticism.
Far too often, my immigrant journey has been forced to acknowledge news stories about immigrants who perform bad acts. Even friends and colleagues question my values when such events are reported.
I’ve always understood their concerns.
But I’ve seen the positive aspects of immigration in my own life. From my perspective, the good which flows from immigrant contributions outweighs the bad.
My dad was an immigrant. My mother had roots in two different countries. My parents were laborers with little education.
My father spent the early part of his life here as a farm worker, the latter as a dishwasher and kitchen helper for a Chinese restaurant.
My mother worked in factories until her bad back forced her to move into housecleaning. They made positive contributions to American society.
They were unsung American heroes.
Like many immigrants, they brought a solid moral foundation with them.
I was raised to use good manners, to be polite and courteous, and to respect my elders.
I was taught to do my best at all times. I was encouraged to study hard, to work hard, and to help others.
I was taught to obey the law – and not to harm others.
The incident a few nights ago shook the foundations of my world. My personal views on deportation defense were again called into question. This time I am the examiner.
The ugly realities about immigration and our society, which, for me, were way out there – are staring back at me. And they’ve never been closer.
I’m shocked, hurt, angry, and saddened – all at once.
I suspect some of the youths who stabbed my son feel left out of the American mosaic. It doesn’t excuse their actions.
These types of misguided actions, whether committed by citizens or immigrants, destroy the fabric of society.
For many immigrants, striving in all the right ways to be accepted into the American community, the negative effects are magnified.
Those who harmed my son did nothing to change the good that my parents accomplished.
But they undermine the efforts of new immigrants who, like my parents, simply want to earn an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work.
One consequence of such heinous behavior is the call for stricter immigration laws. There are no exemptions. Worthy immigrants who would benefit from positive reform are forced to continue hiding in the shadows of American communities.
In stabbing my son, these immigrant thugs stabbed all immigrants.
Thank God, I still have my son.
By Carlos Batara, Immigration Law, Policy, And Politics
(Note: An earlier version of this article was was originally posted in Batara On Immigration: Personal, Passionate, And Provocative.)