Sunday, October 4, 2015


by rev byrd tetzlaff

Take what you like and leave the rest.  Or don’t.

I am an American Citizen, not because I have earned it, but simply because I was born here.  Both my parents were born here.  Three out of four of my grandparents were born here, but my grandfather came over from Germany to avoid the Kaiser’s draft.  I am not certain if he had papers.  He married someone who was part Native American, but that fact puts my citizenship in doubt, rather than solidify it.

I tell you this because the rest of this article is about undocumented persons in this country and I want you to know who is speaking.

I am a citizen and I personally want to welcome the undocumented people that are living here.  It is you and folks like you who have built this country.  It is you and folks like you that most of the rest of us are descended from.  

And I want to apologize to you for all the bad things that this country does to you in my name.

You add to our strength and you will do work that me and my fellow countryman will not do.  You will put food on our tables for a reasonable price.  The people who hire you will take advantage of you and have you working for slave wages with no health care, no decent place to rest when the day is done, no bathroom breaks or chances to rest.  They will work you until you are almost dead, and then they will ship you off, saying how terrible it is that you have taken advantage of our generosity.

If you have children while here, they may be citizens, but many will hate you for having “Anchor Babies” even though those children will not give you any measure whatsoever of safety.  In fact, those children may even cause you great sorrow, because if you are deported, they may be taken away from you and put into foster care rather than return with you to a country that is as foreign to them as it would be to me. 

All your life here, you will live in fear of the shadow of deportation, knowing full well that your family could be torn apart.  You need not commit any sort of crime, you can be perfectly law abiding, church-going, volunteering,  putting your children through school while working for far less than minimum wages, even paying taxes - and you can still be shipped off.

You will not be able to drive legally, nor will you be able to take advantage of any of the many benefits you be accused of using.   You will not be able to take better-paying jobs even if you are qualified, because you do not have a social security number.  You will not be able to buy a home, even if you could pay for it outright, because, again, those pesky papers you do not have.

True, you may not be paying taxes on your wages, but that is not your fault, that is the fault of the people who hire you, because they are saving themselves money twice:  once by not paying you living wages and once by cheating the government when they choose not to pay taxes on the little you do make.

If you decide to try to become a legal immigrant, you will be stopped by the fact that we still have racist quotas here about who can or cannot apply for citizenship.  And your country will probably already have the quota filled up for many years yet to come – unless you are from Western Europe or England.  If your skin is even the tiniest bit brown or yellow, we will make is very difficult, if not impossible, for you to take the proper legal steps – and then we will blame you for not taking those steps.

It does not matter that the country you fled from has become war-torn because of politics that you have nothing to do with.  It does not matter that your country has become a living hell because of drug lords that are funded by Americans.  It does not matter if your life is in danger because of your sexual orientation, the hatred of which has been fanned by American ‘Missionaries’.  It does not matter if you fleeing from religious oppression (unless you are a fundamentalist Christian), because much of that oppression is funded and/or encouraged by Americans anyway.  Even though we claim to be a country with freedom of religion, many of my fellow citizens will gladly persecute you in your home country and then refuse you asylum here.  As a country, we don’t care.  That is your problem, not ours.

The vast majority of my fellow citizens have no concept of the issues you have faced and no idea of what really goes on in the world.  Most of them have done nothing to earn the right to live here and over half of them do not understand the structure of how our government works or the rights that we all have under the Constitution.  The vast majority of them are descendants of undocumented immigrants, but since they were from Europe, that makes it OK.   The fact that they stole the land from the original inhabitants – and usually murdered them in the process -  does not bother them in the least.

In spite of all this, I still want to say Welcome to you, the undocumented people.  I hope you do well and prosper as so many of you have done, through your own hard work and effort.  

I hope you find friends, because in spite of all the bad things I have told you about this country, there are good and decent people here too, people with loving hearts and open minds, people that are capable of putting themselves in another’s shoes and not judge, people who actually occasionally try to live the principles of the religions they say they believe.

Welcome.  I hope you find peace and safety.  I personally am glad you are here.  I hope you get to stay.

So Be It