May 11, 2005


Immigrant a Graduate of the U.S. System (Steve Lopez, May 11, 2005, LA Times)

Ann's graduation robe hangs from the door of her Long Beach studio apartment, and she's counting the days. After a 10-year odyssey, she's scheduled to graduate Friday from USC — unless she gets arrested first.

The political science major, whose walls hold 15 framed academic achievement awards, is an illegal immigrant.

"I would like to share my story with you," Ann wrote to me in an e-mail.

Most illegal immigrants don't graduate from schools the caliber of USC, as far as I know, so I was intrigued by Ann's case. Especially since she wrote to me in the middle of a heated national debate about illegal immigration.

Ann, who asked that I not use her full name, grew up in a tropical island nation in the Atlantic and came to the United States legally. But she ran into trouble, she said, when she transferred from Compton Community College to Long Beach City College.

She said she was exhausted by the federal bureaucracy while trying to straighten out her visa, so she gave up and decided to carry on as if she were a legal resident.

It was a brazen thing to do, but Ann's mother wasn't surprised by her daughter's fierce determination.

"She got it from me," said her mom, who is in L.A. for the graduation.

Ann's father was killed in a car accident at 28, leaving her mother with five children to raise alone. Her mother became an accountant, going to school part time while working to provide for her family.

Not that Ann's mother endorsed her daughter's decision to stay here illegally. In fact, Ann says, her mom urged her to come home before she ended up being deported.

It was like talking to the wall.

Living under the radar of federal authorities proved to be surprisingly easy, in part because Ann taught herself to speak English with hardly a trace of an accent. Her life of deception got a boost when, in what she assumes was bureaucratic incompetence, she was granted a Social Security card that enabled her to work.

Having a Social Security card opened up new job possibilities, and when she applied to Long Beach City College as a resident, no one was wise to her. As a "resident," she also caught a break on the higher tuition fees charged to foreign and out-of-state students.

Ann's plot to get an American college education was humming along just fine until the day a rebuffed suitor, who had been bugging her for months, assaulted Ann with a knife. She was horribly injured, with multiple cuts to her face. But it turned out to be one more setback that only strengthened her resolve.

When she finished school in Long Beach, she applied to USC. Not only was she accepted, but she also was awarded a scholarship that paid half her tuition.

At that point, a touch of American greed seemed to be rubbing off on her. Ann applied for additional financial aid, and the jig was up when USC discovered she was undocumented.

No financial aid for illegal immigrants, she was told, even the merit scholarship she'd been awarded.

"Come on home," Ann remembers her mother telling her.

But still, she wouldn't give up.

The President should start routinely pardoning such people.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 11, 2005 8:51 AM

I cannot concur. Every single false official statement made in this criminal career, and their number is legion, should be prosecuted. What are we saying here? Lie well enough, cheat well enough, and we will celebrate your achievemen?

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 11, 2005 10:30 AM

You'd have a better case if she weren't a poli-sci major, surely destined for a faculty job somewhere where she'll routinely speak of how evil America is.

Posted by: b at May 11, 2005 10:40 AM


Worked for John D Rockefeller and the Kennedys.:)

Posted by: bart at May 11, 2005 10:50 AM


Yes. Come here and bust your butt and you'll be rewarded.

Posted by: oj at May 11, 2005 11:34 AM

"you'll be rewarded"

To the detriment of the children of taxpayers.


Nothing I have heard would indicate that Rockefeller was a liar or cheat.

Posted by: h-man at May 11, 2005 11:46 AM

If the children of taxpayers are slackers, yes.

Posted by: oj at May 11, 2005 11:58 AM

If nothing else this shows how vulnerable we are.

Posted by: Genecis at May 11, 2005 12:30 PM

And how little we care.

Posted by: oj at May 11, 2005 12:59 PM

Lou: Our sympathy is with the outlaw, not the law. That is, of course, an American tradition.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 11, 2005 1:55 PM


He sold rotten meat to the Union army during the Civil War, which enabled him to get his grub stake to start in the oil business. Of course, his behavior in the oil and other businesses was certainly criminal as well.

Posted by: bart at May 11, 2005 3:28 PM

Why is it that so many Republicans hate bureaucracy, and praise its flouting, except when it comes to what might be the worst bureaucracy of them all--immigration?

Posted by: Timothy at May 11, 2005 3:28 PM


Saddens me that you've been led astray with anecdotes like the "rotten meat" fable, which sounds like it's straight out of the Ida Tarbutts slander. She of course could hardly be considered an unbiased source, since she practically devoted her entire life to harrassing poor JD, in order to avenge her own father's inadequacies as a businessman. By the way Confederate soldiers would have considered the meat an improvement over what they got.

Posted by: h-man at May 11, 2005 4:27 PM


A high-school history teacher once told me he had some goons blow up a competitor's refinery. You know if there's any truth to that?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 11, 2005 6:39 PM


I guess there was no Ludlow massacre either. LOL!

Posted by: bart at May 12, 2005 10:22 AM

What's this Rockefeller and Kennedy business? Is that what it has come to? It is all right for me to be a liar and cheat because this or that prominent person is a liar and a cheat?

I suppose this accounts for Bill Clinton's popularity: liars and cheats need to feel represented also,

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 13, 2005 2:45 PM