"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

December 06, 2007

"Remember Manuel Cordova"

Not exactly what I was expecting in an Op-Ed representing the Arizona Republic. However, it is outstanding when a major media outlet will recognize that illegal immigrants are human beings.

I am proud of the fact that my Congressman, Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva, (District 7 - AZ), feels that this man should at least be allowed a work visa.

What do you think?

Illegal immigrant.

Fighting words.

Unwelcome people.

But people, nonetheless.

The act of one of those people on Thanksgiving Day saved a little boy's life.

You've heard the story. Manuel Jesus Cordova, 26, was walking across the desert when he came across 9-year-old Christopher Buchleitner, whose mother died in a car crash.

The child was alone. The man had been walking for two days, on his way to find work. Illegally.

He stopped. Gave the child his sweater, built a fire and stayed with the little boy through the night. They didn't speak the same language, but he made the child comfortable. He watched him as he slept.

Authorities said if it hadn't been for this illegal immigrant, the child might have died.

Help came. The child was rescued and Cordova was returned to Mexico. He came to the border Tuesday to pick up a certificate of appreciation for what he did.

He talked of the night he became a hero. He said he'd been afraid that nobody would come to help the boy. Before he met the child, his fears had been precisely the opposite. He didn't want to be found then. His goal then had been to evade detection and get to a job.

Funny, isn't it, how human beings change their plans to help each other?

Funny, too, how the current debate over illegal immigration focuses on the negative and forgets the human.

Remembering that illegal immigrants can be decent human beings doesn't change the need to reform a broken immigration system. But it could change the tone of the diatribes about the problem.

It should do that.

Rep. Raul Grijalva plans to introduce legislation that would allow Cordova to get a special visa and come here to work. That probably won't happen. But Grijalva deserves credit for trying.

As Arizona works through the challenges of being a border state at a time when the federal government's failure to deal with illegal immigration has resulted in crisis, Cordova - this illegal immigrant - has already done important work here.

He saved a child.

He reminded Arizona that undocumented immigrants are people with the same range of good and bad attributes as any other group of people.

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