On August 30, 1945, my late father of blessed memory was awarded the Bronze Star. The medal was pinned on his left breast at a ceremony in Luxembourg. It was for his dedicated service in Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army. Not bad for a man who had entered the United States brazenly but illegally 21 years earlier. CWO Gregorio A. Diaz retired in 1954 after 30 years of regular military service. He went to his grave some three decades later without bothering to tell anyone else — including his wife and family — that his entry into the United States at El Paso in February 1924 was a fraud based on a single but oh-so-important lie.
Okay. There were technically two lies, one not so, so important. Sometimes, a man has gotta do what a man has gotta do.
My father’s service to his new country was in several ways very ordinary for Latino immigrants.
First he was not a raging criminal or a degenerate pervert. He was a man of strong moral principles and considerable personal courage.
The relationship between crime and immigration is precisely the opposite of the line that “race” experts and their twisted ilk peddle.
According to these grim Nativists, immigrants of the brown-skinned variety are a slavering horde of criminals pouring in to sell dope to our kids and rape our chaste womenfolk. In fact, immigrants of every national origin actually have a much lower crime rate than their second-generation children (measured by their rate of imprisonment for criminal conduct). And foreign-born men are imprisoned at half the rate of non-Hispanic native-born white men. Here’s more news: Among Latinos, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Mexicans — “precisely the groups most stigmatized as ‘illegals’ in the public perception and outcry about immigration” — have the lowest incarceration rates!
Second, my father served his country in uniform, in peace and in war. He did not go on a crime rampage the minute he was safely into El Paso. He went to Ft. Bliss and joined the U.S. Cavalry.
Something I like to think about on Veteran’s Day.
Oh, yeah, my dad’s lies? Well, he claimed he was born in Mexico, but he actually was born in Spain. As hard as it is to believe today, in February 1924 Mexican nationals could legally cross the border and declare for immigration with a few token formalities, like a head tax and no apparent health issues. But Spaniards? Spaniards were subject to a relatively new quota system designed to preserve America’s racial purity. My dad was from a poor fishing village in the Canary Islands, Garachico on Tenerife. There was no way he was going to get one of the 130 or so visas allowed for Spaniards that year. So he just claimed he was from Mexico. The inspectors waved him in. (You know, we all do kinda look alike.)
My dad also added a year to his age at the border, claiming he was 18, rather than 17.
The man had true grit.