Heroic Immigrant

It should go without saying, but rarely does, that people who break our nation's unjust immigration laws are not necessarily bad people. In fact, when faced with a terrible situation, some of them rise to the occasion, as was the case with Antonio Diaz:

The man who chased down a suspected child abductor and saved a 6-year-old girl from what could have been a horrible fate was honored as a hero Friday. But he is also gaining a new kind of celebrity: as a poster child of sorts for immigration rights in state and national immigration debates.

"As exceptional as his story is," said Christina Parker, a spokeswoman for Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso, Texas, "it points to the fact that most undocumented immigrants living in the United States are not criminals. He's more than not a criminal now. He's a hero."

Antonio Diaz shows himself to be a fine man through his actions. Those actions reflect only on himself, not on Hispanics generally or even the larger immigrant community. The point, however, is that the reverse is also true; illegal immigrants who commit horrendous crimes have no bearing on Antonio Diaz as a person, and whether or not he should be allowed in the country legally.

We must judge individuals for who they are, including what they say and what they do, not for their country of origin, by the language they speak or our preconceived notions.

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