I married an alien

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(HOST) Commentator Mike Martin has been thinking about immigration lately, and he’s found some of our ideas to be a little – well – strange.

(MARTIN) So I married an alien. Mind you, she doesn’t look like one of those bony reptilians that keep drooling on Sigourney Weaver at the movies. And she can’t shape-shift or blast things by shooting laser beams from her eyes. She doesn’t even own a spacecraft. I just know she’s an alien because it says “Resident Alien” on her Green Card – which is pink. I guess that name could remind me of “Resident Scholar” or “Resident Expert,” but it doesn’t. To me, it sounds more like, “You’re strange, but you live here.” Just like the confusion surrounding the Green Card’s color, sometimes our ideas on immigration seem a little odd.

Even though my wife is not a space alien, she doesn’t always melt in with the rest of us. For example, she definitely de-lints her black clothing and shines her shoes more than your average American. And she likes to have dinner a little later and doesn’t think that sports are good for you if they injure you. She also likes to bring up controversial topics at Thanksgiving dinner – which is something totally alien – excuse me, foreign – to my family. She’s a cute little alien though; she looks the same today as she does on her Green Card, which is ten years old – and pink. She’s thinking about getting “naturalized” soon – I mean you can only be unnatural and alien so long! – and then she’ll be American like the rest of us, in all her beautiful uniqueness and originality. I think most agree that diversity makes America great, after all.

There’s been some pretty interesting talk about immigration lately. Like, should we just let in the smart and cute ones, for our economy – or mostly the tired immigrants, like “wretched refuse,” for our conscience? Should we decide who gets in based on their family ties – or based on quotas for different countries? Or should it be a question of political asylum? That’s a Cold War notion we don’t talk about much anymore, since we’d have to admit all the citizens of Chechnya, Myanmar, and quite a few other nations too.

When Pat Buchanan was running for President in 1996, he said we should put up a 2,000-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. People thought he was crazy, so they made him a political pundit. Well now they’ve done some work on that fence, and the President’s sent the National Guard down there as if we were chasing around Pancho Villa. I guess it’s better than the Berlin Wall because at least people are trying to get in, not escape. That’s reassuring.

Still, I was a student in Paris when the Berlin Wall came down, and it was liberating and hopeful and people were happy. Pink Floyd even played a concert on it. I thought the lesson was that building walls is an expression of fear. And fear just seems so un-American.

Mike Martin writes about issues of culture and education and teaches French at Champlain Valley Union High School.

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