Tonight, we got a knock on the door at about 8:30pm. Opening it up, I found myself staring into the face of my former neighbor. Fortunately I don't know the Spanish for 'Holy Crap!' because that's exactly what I would have said to him.
You see, my neighbor was an illegal immigrant. He'd been arrested and deported a couple of years ago and, after popping straight back across the border, been subsequently arrested again and banged up by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services - in a federal prison where, I'd been led to believe, he was going to rot.
Except here he was, on my goddamn doorstep.
Not that I'd wanted him to rot, I kept reminding myself. I had nothing against this guy, apart from the fact that he had flagrantly and repeatedly violated the immigration law's I'd spent five years as a slave to, reaped the benefits of New Jersey's free health care and schooling while I struggled to pay for insurance and daycare, didn't pay a dime in taxes (and subsequently pulled in more a month than my wife did) and insisted on driving his unregistered, uninspected, uninsured minivan home drunk off his arse every night.
But seriously. Apart from that? Nicest guy ever.
Anyway. Instead of being behind bars like I'd been led to believe he was, the guy was standing on my porch, politely inquiring if our landlord was around.
After a moment's disorientation, I shook his hand, invited him in and Mummy Militant and I found him our landlord's number. During the process, we exchanged what niceties we could given the language barrier.
"You've lost weight!"
"Thanks, so have you."
"Well, I've been in a federal prison for five months."
"Ah, right." Awkward pause. "So, erm. What happened then?"
"I got deported back to Mexico."
"I came back here."
"Oh, no." He paused. "It took three weeks."
So with another shake of his hand, I sent our border-hopping pal on his way and closed, locked and bolted the door. Pressing my back against it, I asked Mummy Militant: "These immigration guys... Are they freaking kidding me?"
Since President Bush left office, a lot less attention has been paid on the question of illegal immigration of America. In fact, Obama's accomplished more in the past year regarding the issue than Bush and his cohorts did during two terms in office (which isn't necessarily a good thing. Obama's policies are brusque and unforgiving.) Tie that into a crappy economy - when even illegals find difficulty getting a job - and you're looking at the best immigration situation for years.
But the fact is, my neighbor was back. Being arrested, imprisoned and deported - twice - was as minor an inconvenience to him as renewing his motor-vehicle registration.
Which, incidentally, he never did.
It just goes to show that, whether the government's Democratic or Republican, they're all equally pathetic and powerless in the face of illegal immigration. In fact, it seems like the only reason people like my drink-driving neighbor are considering leaving the Land of Opportunity is because our crappy economy means those 'opportunities' are fewer and further apart than they used to be.