The Law is Death

If in her desperation, a foreigner breaks a rule of residency whose infraction typically results in a misdemeanor, I don’t see how anyone has the right to punish her by abandoning her to atrocity. I don’t understand this. I don’t think I’m equipped to understand it. And when I consider those who are so able, I’m left thinking that if legality is the true cornerstone of their morality, then they must be simpletons, or henchmen, or devils.

(Originally posted June 22, 2018)


My father frequently hosts a medicine-at-sea program, where he goes on cruises with physicians, teaches a class, and enjoys the sights. This past week, he had work on a short cruise through the Gulf of Mexico. In the middle of the voyage, the ship encountered a raft of twenty-seven Cuban refugees, who had been at sea for twenty-two days. The ship took them on board, to find that seven of the people had already died. The doctors helped the rest the best they could, while my father–a psychologist–debriefed some of the folks who helped with the worst trauma. Two more refugees died a few days later. The cruise ship took the survivors to Cozumel, where each would face return to Cuba, and almost certainly a prison sentence. 

Think of what you’d have to flee to risk your life at sea. That impulse doesn’t come from some desire to steal an agricultural job. It certainly doesn’t come from laziness. It comes from a desperation that leads to heroism.

(Originally posted March 24, 2016)