Perspective matters. It changes viewpoints, often by rendering the abstract concrete. The immigration perspective-shift also happens this way.
In our business we hear a version like this: A U.S. citizen comes in for a consultation and says, “I’m not in favor of illegal immigration, but…. I want to know what I can do to help my Consuela.” Then we hear about the trusted nanny / housekeeper / ranch-worker, etc. who’s “like a member of the family. We want to get her legal. What do we do to help?”
The earnest U.S. citizen doesn’t really preface the alien’s name with “my” (though that did happen once). But he or she does show a kind and genuine protectiveness of another. Or, more accurately, of “an other.” It’s an alien we’re talking about; the quintessential “other.” Increasingly the subject of hardline state laws, zero-tolerance for “illegals” is acceptable to otherwise reasonable people, when the targeted aliens remain nameless, faceless and thus vaguely threatening abstracts.
Common to these earnest citizen inquiries is the initial good-Samaritan posture: I’m ready to help. We can fix it because I’m willing to be a sponsor, a character reference. What can I do? It’s the well-meaning but naive presumption of the empowered class.
Typically we must explain why there’s no easy or immediate fix. Not under current federal immigration law. Certainly not with the “self-deportation” state laws proposed and enacted.
We suggest that the U.S citizen, if truly concerned about this issue, might want to contact his or her legislator. Not that it will help in this case. But it might make a difference in the future.