Published on
the Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Xenophobe: Warrior Princess

I know this pretty little lady. She's got a hot little husband and an adorable little boy. They are a sweet Maine family - picture perfect - including the little bun she's got growing in her oven. I call them little because they're diminutive. She barely clears five feet and he's maybe six inches taller. I don't know, maybe I'm "sizeist" but their smaller-than-average stature just adds to their allure.It adds to the surprise factor, too, when you find that they're xenophobic.

Well, I'm not sure about the husband and the 2-year-old, but she definitely is.

The other day she struck up a conversation with me about wanting to send the immigrants home. I asked her what tribe she was from, like the Penobscot or maybe one from away like the Cherokee. Mind you, I don't smile when I ask this - my standard rebuttal question - but for some reason every time I ask it, the person I'm asking laughs like I'm kidding.

I've met a number of illegal immigrants in my travels. Interestingly enough, I've never met an unemployed one. Locking up the people who hire illegal immigrants (so they can avoid little things such as payroll taxes and workers compensation insurance) would go a long way in addressing the problem.

Let's start with Mitt Romney. He's got time on his hands since he's stepped away from the presidential race. Yep, he's got the time to do some time - now there's a keen campaign slogan. If President Bush locked up Romney for hiring illegals, maybe some of their Republican counterparts would believe that he's really against the practice and this would lend credibility to his immigration reform.

It does make a darling campaign slogan, "Got the Time to Do Some Time!"

Wait. John McCain should use that slogan and call for Romney's arrest. Same benefit for McCain as for Bush seeing as his critics dog him for supporting Bush's immigration policy. And he'd have the added benefit of looking tough on crime. After all, hiring illegals is illegal too.

But none of these arguments would sway my friend. Even the Cherokee comment; she sees herself as a native - yep, good old-fashioned bona fide American stock.

And she didn't care if folks came here to work.

See, she didn't mean illegal immigrants, she meant all immigrants.

Eventually she got quite specific with her desires; she particularly wanted the Somali people who settled in certain parts of Maine to get out.

Now I know this person a bit, and she really has the sweetest demeanor. I've seen her lovingly interact with her little boy so I decided to ditch the whole, "gee, with rare exception we're all immigrant stock" logical argument and appeal to her basic humanity.

I said, "But most of those folks come here because of persecution in their own country." I didn't get into the U.S. interference in their country's inner workings or describe the possible responsibility we had to the refugees. I wanted to keep my argument succinct and a little heart-wrenching. So I added, "Many Somalis come here because if they stayed home, they'd be killed."

She looked at me with that sweet little blue-eyed, porcelain-skinned face of hers and said, "Hey, not my problem."

People dying - not her problem. Gasp. Game over.

Little Xena, my pet name for her now, came to see me the next day. Our conversation bothered her and she felt that she needed a solution, so she proudly announced her plan. She's moving her family to Canada.

I nearly convulsed.

Why would she think Canada wants her any more than she wants our immigrants?

Maybe it's comments such as those of former Canadian Immigration Minister Elinor Caplan, "A successful immigration program like ours is not just about numbers on a page, but rather about hard-working people and their families who come here from the world over to help build our economy, our society and our culture."

Consequently, according to Ryerson University's Diversity Watch, in 2001, 33,725 Somalis lived in Canada and "80 percent of Somali immigrants to Canada are refugees from the civil war."

I wonder where Xena will go when she learns that. Oh well, "not my problem."

Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche is an author, activist and advocate. She is the author of "Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States."  Her new novel, The Magic Diary, is now available.


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