Friday, November 20, 2009

Miranda, Rights, & Immigration

The young Guatemalan had walked for miles. He was determined to make it to the United States for a better life. As he walked, he thought of all he would need when he arrived in his new home--a companion came to mind, one who spoke Spanish. By now he was in Mexico, having hitched enough rides to make good time in his trek. He stopped in a village filled with the poorest of the poor, a village where some families lived in cardboard shacks.

When the young man left the village, he resumed his trip north with a 14 year-old girl for whom he had paid the equivalent of $20.00. This terrified child was to be his companion for the next five years as he made his way to Athens, Alabama, and began work in the Sweet Sue plant.

His "bride" was not allowed out of the house or allowed to learn any English with the exception of what she gleaned from television. She attempted to escape, but the birth of her first child chained her to her captor. It was during her second pregnancy that the neighbors on the quiet Athens street heard her screams from the latest beating and called the police. The Guatemalan quickly headed south, ostensibly returning to his homeland. The girl was now 19, heavily pregnant, and forced to live off the charity of a Hispanic family in Decatur.

When she delivered her second child, she arrived at the hospital in so late a stage of labor that the physician would not give her any pain medication. Holding the hand of a student nurse who stood next to her while communicating in Latin and praying for the young woman and her child, the girl gave birth to a second son. Now she had two anchor children, no education, and no money. What became of this young woman and her children? We don't know...

The above story is true and is related here to present two very different sides of immigration. Are we against all Hispanic Indian immigration? No. Do we see the problems illegal immigration brings? Yes.

Valentino Miranda is a man very much like the one in this story. Last year he killed a young Florence woman who was visiting Knoxville, Tennessee, on business. Now his attorney says he didn't understand his aptly named Miranda rights when he was questioned in the death of Jennifer Hampton. Will this stop his trial? No. It probably won't even slow down the judicial process that will bring a sure punishment to this brutal rapist and murderer. What punishment does Valentino Miranda deserve? Our individual answers to that question say a great deal about us.

Tomorrow: The Short Life of Jennifer Hampton