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Friday, July 9, 2010
Documenting the undocumented workers

I HAD BEEN HEARING ABOUT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, and I wondered what all the brouhaha was about. I looked up illegal and found out it meant "not legal" -- and so it seemed like that this could be problem. This inspired me to investigate more deeply. So, I started reading the newspapers and newsmagazines and found out that according to their coverage these individuals weren't illegal after all; they are just undocumented.

I was relieved. That sure is better. This seems like a much more tractable problem. They just need to find their documents. I have had the same problem on occasion myself. For example, on my wedding day, I couldn't find my marriage license. Since I wanted to go on a honeymoon with my wife, I thought I might need one. (Wouldn't it have been embarrassing if the motel desk clerk had asked to see our marriage license and I had to say, "I'm sorry I don't have it with me." It's possible the clerk would have accepted the evidence of rice in my shoes, but I didn't want to risk it.)

Anyway, I did eventually find my original marriage license -- but only months after my wedding. (It was in my office file cabinet, filed under "M.") This experience makes me think that I could be of some help to these undocumented individuals in finding their missing documents. My technique then was to be persistent. If you just keep looking, you will, in my experience, eventually find the missing documents. But, over time, my frequent experience in losing and then finding things has led me to a better way.

Here's how you start: Think about the last place you would have put the document. (Not the last place you remember putting the document -- that almost never works. That’s usually the first place you look, and, in my experience, it is never there.) No, think about the last place you would even think of putting it. Look there. My experience is that whenever you look for something you have lost or misplaced, you will find it the last place you look. So, start there! It saves a lot of time and energy.

But, if that doesn't work, my further advice is to look elsewhere. Instead of giving up, look in a completely different place. I usually start looking for my lost keys under the street light. Although it is easier to see there, that usually doesn’t seem to work. What I do then is go back and see if I left them in my house.

So, if the undocumented persons can’t find their documents anywhere in their dwellings where they are staying now, it may be they should consider that they left them at home. If they would go home and get their documents that would solve everything, it seems to me. And, then, even if they have a hard time finding them, at least they will be at home while they look.

I know some people could be reluctant to do that because their homes are far away, many even in other countries, and it would take a while to go and get their documents. So, perhaps the U.S. government could help with bus tickets or airfare to get them back home. People without documents should consider taking the help, since after they went home and got their papers, when they got back here they wouldn't be undocumented anymore. That, it seems to me, would be better for everyone, because I am not sure anything will get done around here until they get back.


Gary D. Gaddy, when he travels to foreign countries, always carries his documents with him and a photocopy in his luggage.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday July 9, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:27 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, July 9, 2010 9:31 AM EDT
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