When The Atlantic Wire talked to an immigration law expert earlier today, he said he thought it was unlikely Jose Antonio Vargas, who outed himself as an illegal immigrant in The New York Times Magazine, would be deported: He's too prominent, and the federal agencies responsible for dealing with these cases are pretty image-conscious. Readers absolutely tore into each other in our comments section over whether Vargas should stay or go, whether he's a hero or villain, etc. Commenter rmgdnnow, though, dropped a thoughtful observation that partisans on both sides might appreciate:
Could this be a precedent for other illegal aliens to demand citizenship, if this guy gets away with it?
It bothers me that certain individuals can break the law(s) and become prominent figures, if not heroes, while someone steps beyond the law and is prosecuted without mercy.
If our country devolves into that kind of place, heaven help us.
Whatever you think of the illegal immigration issue, it's hard to dispute that there's a fundamental injustice occurring if Vargas gets let off the hook, while hundreds of thousands of other illegals get deported. Even those who want to see productive illegal immigrants granted amnesty might admit that making exceptions purely based on prominence isn't right. What if there's someone as intelligent and productive as Vargas--but not as famous--out there right now?
Anyway, that's the Comment of the Day. If you're inclined, browse Open Wire, where you can share tips and links to the stories you think we should be covering.