Monday, February 23, 2009

Elephant Walk: Crossing the Rio Grande

They say, "Elephants never forget," a thought crystallized in the movie, Elephant Walk, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Peter Finch. Set in colonial Ceylon, it is a tale of migrant elephants - "illegal migrants," you might say - who insists on returning to their ancestral grounds. Only a sprawling tea plantation blocks their way; that, and a cement wall the English owner erected decades before to insure the elephants could never return.

The elephants continue, nonetheless, to rail against the wall - to demand their right of way - until one day they overcome it, literally smashing the wall and mansion behind it.

America's so called "illegal immigrants" are like the elephants of Ceylon. Certainly not to be confused with beasts, they are men and women of great dignity and character whose people once claimed those lands that stretch from California to Texas, and all of the Southwest in between. Though many of them have never seen this land, they are pulled by it; it is in their blood. And even as the U.S. government erects its own wall between the land and them, deep down we sense such wall belie a simple truth: Instincts prevail.

We call them "illegal" today. Tomorrow, amidst the rubble of another shattered wall, we will say to them, "Welcome home."

They have been here before. They will never forget.

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