Freedom isn’t free, and some things may be worth the cost

This week 38 people were picked up in a white bus with shaded windows and taken out of sight.

We still don’t know where exactly they all went, who exactly they were, or how long exactly they’ll be there.

Now, I almost said “38 illegal immigrants,” but that’s probably not true.

Getting a work visa and leaving it at home is something like going out without your wallet; overstaying it is like driving your car with an inspection sticker out. It’s irresponsible, but let’s not pretend it isn’t commonly done.

“That’s exactly the problem,” you say.

Well.

“Illegal immigration is illegal, after all,” you say.

Well. So was speeding on your way to work last week, though there’s something to be said for degrees (it would also be illegal to slam through a pack of pedestrians, and much more likely to get you ticketed).

“These people are everywhere now!” you say.

Even our construction jobs? No!

So, if when I was standing across the street from a construction yard gearing up for another “standoff,” forgive me if my journalistic balloon was quite suddenly punctured as my coworker said she’d found out it was an immigration-related raid.

Odessa police and Midland deputies are good people, don’t get me wrong, but the SWAT team and a DPS helicopter suggests something a bit more than checking the papers of construction laborers.

I mean, I suppose I am shocked and outraged that in northeast Odessa of all places, not a stone’s throw from the Country Club golf course, there was a virtual nest of huddled, unwashed masses gathered incognito, but I’m a bit more concerned that the federal government searched and checked out several hundred people based on a probable cause they’re still unwilling to release. That they apparently don’t have to release anyone’s name that they picked up. That they won’t say how many actually checked out as legal and have got to go home.

I’m a bit more concerned that someone at a construction site should have to submit his or her documents for inspection to see if they have any outstanding warrants when checking out something unrelated. We certainly wouldn’t stand for it if we were walking down the street and a police officer wanted to run our thumbprints, or sitting at work had to let the FBI examine our retinas.

I know, I know. I’m overreacting, but illegal immigrants, like terrorists, are not a threat to me. I’m not worried about getting kidnapped. Not by migrant workers. I’m scared as hell of Mexican drug traffickers, sure, but of all the people I could be shot by, I doubt a Mexican national is going to be the one pulling the trigger. I’ve certainly had second thoughts about traveling to Midland recently, what with the extensive lumber collection I keep in my car.

Fundamentally, I worry not about getting blown up by terrorists but being felt up at the airport — a much more likely event. And not even that. Once office folk in northern Virginia can track every book I’ve checked out, website I’ve been to, and listened in to all my phone calls (in the name of national security, of course), the gropey sort of molestation is an anticlimax.

Do I have empathy for illegal immigrants? Yes. I mean, honestly, no, not really. But what I’ve got in common with them is I’m terrified of the things the government at every level can do to make it harder to live, be liberated, and pursue happiness.

Freedom isn’t free. I’m OK if part of that cost is foodstamps for noncitizens.

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adavidjohnson

A David Johnson, of many. The (poorly) recovering journalist of West Texas extraction one.

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