Henry Cejudo hates his country’s immigration laws.
Cejudo’s country is the United States of America, of course. Is there some other country these days that would be criticized for its immigration laws?
In summer 2008, Cejudo was the youngest American ever to win an Olympic gold medal in freestyle wrestling. In fact, Cejudo was the only American to win a gold medal in freestyle wrestling during the last Summer Olympics.
So this is not a column criticizing Cejudo. As a fan of amateur wrestling for the past 47 years, I’m darned grateful for what Cejudo did. But there are a few things that drive me absolutely bonkers when they don’t occur during the Olympics.
One is when an American team fails to win a gold medal in basketball. Another is when Americans fail to win a gold medal in either the men’s or women’s 100-meter relay in track and field, which means my nose was really out of joint in 2008. And the last is when Americans go home with no gold medal in freestyle wrestling.
America’s men’s and women’s 100-meter relay teams didn’t win gold medals in 2008. Then along came Cejudo, at the youthful age of 21, to save my nose from getting totally out of joint. And once he won, we learned the full Cejudo story.
Yes, he’s an American citizen, born and reared here in the United States. Not so his parents, who illegally came to the country from Mexico.
His father was a drug-addicted bum and petty criminal who eventually died in squalor in Mexico City. His mother remained here, took advantage of an amnesty, got her green card and struggled to raise Cejudo and his five siblings.
In his recently published autobiography, “American Victory,” Cejudo tells of his rise from child of a struggling, poor, beleaguered single mother to Olympic champion. And he couldn’t pass on the opportunity to diss his country’s immigration laws.
“To me, immigration laws are stupid,” Cejudo wrote. “Immigration laws don’t work. Think about it. If my parents had not been able to figure out how to come over to this country, I would never have been able to represent the United States in the Olympics. I would never have had that chance to help make this country shine brighter. It doesn’t make sense.”
It’s hard to know where to begin in critiquing this tortured reasoning. Is Cejudo really saying that because something good happened from his parents’ flagrant violation of America’s immigration laws that we should repeal them? Or that it’s OK for foreigners to flagrantly flout them?
Because the opposite reason could apply as well: If an illegal immigrant or the child of an illegal immigrant does something awful, then that’s justification for making our immigration laws more draconian or closing the door on immigration completely.
Here’s a more reasonable approach: How about having foreigners obey and respect America’s immigration and customs laws because Americans are required to do the same for other countries? How about just showing some respect for the law of the land?
What Cejudo, perhaps unwittingly, proposed is that it’s perfectly acceptable for foreigners to violate America’s immigration and customs laws. They are, after all, stupid. Ponder where this kind of thinking will get us.
Don’t like traffic laws? Fine. Go ahead and run those red lights and stop signs.
Think tax laws are stupid? Don’t pay any taxes. Use the same approach for any other law you find objectionable.
Then, soon you’ll have a country governed not by the rule of law but by the rule of whim.
Examiner columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to Sudan.