ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–“Dad,” my daughter Karis said, “it was just so random!” She added, “This is the kind of stuff that happens to other people.” What my 15-year old was reacting to was the recent carjacking she had endured.
My wife, Mindy, and our two daughters — Karis and 12-year-old Hannah, were visiting family in Texas. They had arranged to meet my oldest brother’s family at a convenience store near my in-laws home in the small town of Salado. The purpose of the rendezvous was to pick up my 15-year old niece so she could spend the night with her cousins.
At approximately 10 o’clock that evening, Mindy and Karis arrived at the convenience store about the same time as my brother and his family. Hannah had elected to stay behind at grandma’s house.
Karis left the passenger seat to welcome her cousin, Sidney. Mindy left the van and walked around to greet our sister-in-law. They said hi and hugged as the girls were transferring Sidney’s overnight bag from my brother’s car to our van.
When Mindy returned to the van she was stunned to find a man sitting in the driver’s seat. He had started the van and was putting it in gear. My wife’s only thought was that her daughter and niece were in the van.
In frantic desperation, Mindy grabbed the van’s open door. As the man drove off, he pushed her away. Thinking the girls were in the van, my wife was seized by panic.
What my wife did not know was what was taking place on the other side of the van. About the same time that my wife was making her discovery, Karis was getting into the van. She saw the man and yelled, “Get out.” She said he only laughed and said something in Spanish.
While Mindy was clinging to the door and Karis was confronting the carjacker, Sidney was taking a seat in the van. When the vehicle began to move, my daughter jumped out of harm’s way. My niece realized what was happening, leapt from the moving van and landed face down on the parking lot.
At that time a man walked out of the convenience store and saw what happened. Thinking quickly, my family jumped into his car and followed the van. He called 911 and in about 20 minutes the carjacker was arrested and our van recovered.
The story of my family’s carjacking turned out well. For that, I am thankful to the Lord. Other than some scrapes and bruises Sidney suffered from her jump, everyone emerged safe and sound. Others in similar situations have not experienced such a happy ending.
The purpose of this story has nothing to with my family. The reason for my sharing it has to do with the perpetrator of the crime. When he was apprehended, law enforcement learned that he was in the United States illegally.
While no country of origin has been revealed, based on his name and language, the 20-year old carjacker is most likely Mexican. It was also discovered that until recently he had been at a mental institution in state custody.
Words cannot describe how happy I am that none of my family was harmed. At the same time, however, words cannot fully describe my frustration with our government, and President Bush, over the lack of border control. Simply put, if our borders were secure, my family may not have endured a dangerous, distressing situation.
Lest someone think I am a bigot with an immigrant chip on my shoulder, please understand I was reared in a small town in Central Texas. Until I was around 12-years old, I was the only Caucasian kid in a neighborhood that was made up primarily of Mexican-Americans.
Until I was eight, I thought my name in Spanish was “Bolillo.” That was what all my Mexican friends called me. One day they told me that “bolillo” was a white bread popular in Mexico. Since I was the only white kid around, they thought it was an apt nickname.
Illegal immigration is out of control in America. I do not have the time nor the space to cite statistics that reveal that illegal aliens –- and I do stress the word “illegal” — are a drain on the American economy.
Our country has a process whereby a person can come here legally. When you ignore that process, for whatever reason, you are a criminal.
Some argue that illegal immigrants come to our country in order to provide a better life for their poverty stricken families. While I am somewhat sympathetic to that argument, the same could be made for thieves. Aren’t they only trying to provide for their families? If we are going to excuse illegal immigration on the basis of motive and/or need, then let’s excuse other crimes as well.
There are those that justify illegal immigration on the basis that the process of becoming legal takes too long and is fraught with bureaucratic red tape. Okay, fine. I want to be a lawyer but I think it takes too long to obtain a license to practice law. I also think the bar exam is just a bureaucratic hoop that I want to avoid. As a result, I’ll put a sign outside stating that I am a lawyer, when I in fact am not one. If length of time and bureaucracy can be used to justify illegal immigration, then it can be used to justify most any behavior or practice.
I know there is no simple solution to the problem of illegal immigration. However, we can and we must secure and control our border, and not just for the sake of our economy. In some instances, the safety of our citizens is at stake.
While I am grateful beyond words that my family endured the carjacking safely, I am frustrated beyond description that our lawmakers, as well as our president, are so nonchalant over the issue. Something tells me if any of their families were ever victimized like mine was, things would change. Until then, I suppose, they will continue to think it just happens to other people.
Kelly Boggs is editor of the Louisiana Baptist Message. His column appears each week in Baptist Press.