This story might be the most instructive one in the entire DACA debate.
Showing her support of President Trump’s decision to get rid of DACA, thus risking the legal status of many children of illegal immigrants, Fox News’ Tomi Lahren tweeted Wednesday:
Less than ten hours later, Wonkette’s Jennifer Mendelsohn, an amateur genealogist, discovered Lahren’s ancestor didn’t exactly become a U.S. citizen completely legally.
“I was curious how long it would take me to hit an immigrant if I dug into the tree of Tomi Lahren, the platinum blonde, snowflake-hating ultra-conservative firebrand recently hired by Fox News. The answer was ‘not long’,” wrote Mendelsohn, adding, “but I never expected to hit pay dirt quite like I did.”
RARE POV: Sympathy for Tomi Lahren
Mendelsohn identifies Kevin and Trudy Lahren of Rapid City, SD, as Tomi’s parents. From there, Wayne A. Dietrich of South Dakota is determined to be Lahren’s grandfather, which is confirmed by Tomi through a tweet in his memory on the third anniversary of his passing. From there, you can find in a 1940 census that Dietrich was born in 1938, the son of Julius Dietrich and Edna Schlacht. Julius is found to be the son of “Constantin (sometimes spelled Konstantin) and Pauline Dietrich.”
Constantin’s birth is listed in his obituary as taking place in Odessa, Russia in 1887. He would be Tomi Lahren’s great-great-grandfather.
And apparently Dietrich might not have respected the American laws his great-great-granddaughter considers sacrosanct.
Mendelsohn discovered Constantin Dietrich had been prosecuted for “forgery, in altering the date of his declaration” in Bismarck, North Dakota in 1917.
Mendelsohn continues (emphasis added):
I ordered the court file, which included Dietrich’s grand jury indictment, in all its 14-page glory. Tomi Lahren’s great-great-grandfather was indicted on two separate counts, for “willfully, unlawfully and knowingly” making a false affidavit in connection with a naturalization proceeding, and for forging a naturalization document, in violation of the Naturalization Act of June 29, 1906. The grand jurors accused him of swearing falsely to the date of his declaration, and of altering the original papers (“with a knife or steel eraser or other instrument unknown to the Grand Jurors”) to make it look like his declaration of intention to become a citizen had been executed in 1911 rather than 1909, apparently because he’d let too much time elapse before completing the naturalization process.
In other words, Tomi Lahren’s great-great-grandfather appeared to break — or skirt, or trample on, or ignore, however harshly or kindly you want to describe it — America’s laws in his quest to become a U.S. citizen.
Shouldn’t the United States have kicked out Constantin Dietrich right then and there? After all, we might be a nation of immigrants, but “we are also a nation of laws. Respect our laws and we welcome you. If not, bye.” This tweet could have been read to Dietrich right before they shipped this dastardly un-American law-breaker back to Russia. Perhaps the Tomi Lahren of Constantin’s day could have kicked him in the ass on the way out.
Luckily — for Tomi and her grandparents and parents, possible future children and surely a multigenerational host of aunts, uncles and cousins — the jury took it easy on Dietrich and acquitted him of the charges.
Constantin Dietrich got to remain in the United States where his great-great-granddaughter would later become a star on Fox News.
Isn’t America great?
It is. It’s why people like Lahren’s grandfather and many others strive to come to the U.S. because of the opportunities it affords, particularly compared to, often, their countries of origin.
DACA was passed as an unconstitutional executive order and should have been rescinded, in conjunction with Congress passing a new law or establishing a way for the 800,000 affected by it to remain in the United States.
Who are the 800,000 “Dreamers” that Lahren, the president and others are so eager to kick out of the country, because their parents broke the law with innocent children in tow? Their average age of arrival was 6 years old. The United States really is the only home most of them can recall. Their current ages range from 16 to about 35. Seventy-nine percent came from Mexico. A vast majority are educated and employed. They are arguably even more Americanized than most newcomers to the United States.
The incarceration rate among DACA-eligible immigrants is lower (.98 percent) than the native born incarceration rate (1.12 percent).
It turns out people actually born on U.S. soil break more laws than Dreamers too.
Our immigration system is broken, and not just illegal immigration but immigration, period. It is difficult to come to the United State legally, as any law abiding immigrant will likely tell you. Those with means stand a better chance. Poor people, on the other hand, might risk breaking the law to feed their families. This doesn’t mean America should accept lawbreaking as the norm or tolerate porous borders.
But it does mean all Americans should be more understanding of why some do break the law, just as a jury showed compassion for Tomi Lahren’s great-great-grandfather a century ago.
“I bring this to light not to shame or embarrass Tomi Lahren,” Mendelsohn writes of Lahren’s potentially embarrassing family history. “Poke any family tree and you’ll often find similar irregularities.”
It doesn’t necessarily mean that Constantin Dietrich was a bad person or a scorn-worthy “illegal” to be demonized. Perhaps it only means that like millions of others, his overweening desire to become a US citizen may have caused him to try to cut a corner or two. It means he may have been a good man who made a bad decision under pressure. It means you’d hope his great-great-granddaughter would have empathy for the plight of immigrants rather than try to pull up the ladder behind her.
It means Tomi Lahren and her family have enjoyed the privilege being Americans for the last 100 years because their ancestor risked breaking the law to do so.